The Initial Excitement of National Board Candidacy

Last fall I went to a showing of the documentary Mitchel 20. This movie is about 20 teachers from Mitchell Arizona who together, attempt to receive their National Board Certification. If you’re interested in learning more about Mitchel 20, watch the trailer below.

After watching the Mitchell 20, I knew I wanted to be a National Board Certified Teacher. (NBCT)

Well, it’s official; I am a National Board candidate!  I received “my box” in the mail last week. The only things inside the box was a bunch of paperwork, some envelopes and directions for what needs to be mailed in when and how to mail it correctly. I need to keep track of “the box.” All of the information I need is available online. I have printed and read through a lot of it already. If you’re interested in learning about the National Board Certification process, check out their website for more information.

I’m really excited to begin my journey towards certification. What an excellent opportunity to reflect on student learning in my classroom and improve the quality of my teaching. Quite honestly, I’ve read through the material and still am not sure I know what I’m getting myself into. That’s okay; I think it’s better at this point. If I was able to truly comprehend the amount of work ahead of me, I might freak out. So far, I’m all smiles.

I have applied online, paid the initial $65 dollar application fee and the $500 down payment. National Board Certification cost $2,500, not including the application fee. The state of Iowa pays for half of the $2,500 if you apply for a grant online. I applied and mailed in my paperwork. A week later the $1,250 showed up as payment in my account. Yay Iowa!

Now all I have to do is pass my National Boards. Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, the statistics don’t look promising. I think its part of the reason why people shy away from even attempting to get their National Board Certification. Only 50% pass on their first attempt. (Don’t worry; with all your wisdom, guidance and support, I’m confident I will pass!) If for some reason I don’t, I can always retake a section.

So, here’s to the beginning of my National Board journey.
Hold on tight, it’s going to be a wild ride!

Do you have your National Board Certification?

If so, do you have any suggestions for me as I start my journey?

Cassidy Reinken

This article was written by former AOE writer and life-long learner, Cassidy Reinken.


  • Laura

    I began my journey last year and waiting my results.  Fingers crossed!  It is a tough process but rewarding.  My advice is to start entry 4 NOW and begin taping now.  Tape anything!  Our classrooms are not setup for sound so you want to work out all of the kinks early.  There are some great Yahoo message boards to join for support and advice.  Good Luck!

    • Thanks for the advice Laura!  I brought my camera to school last week and am working on getting the parent permission forms returned.  I will search for Yahoo message boards.  Be sure to reply to the post in December to let me know that you passed!  :)

      • Libyad

        Yes.  Those Yahoo groups are the best.   The people who facilitate them also lead sessions at NAEA conferences most years.

        • If you happen to know of a group, can you respond with the link?  I am hoping to attend the NAEA convention in March, fingers crossed!

    • Stef

      I went through the process last year as well and am awaiting my results. I definitely learned a lot about my teaching by going through the process!

  • erica

    What makes being National Board Certified alluring? I’m just not clear on the reason, seems like more paperwork. Does it help secure your job? Do you learn through the process with a cohort? What is this and how does it work to improve teaching? 

    • Those are all really good questions. I’ll do my best to answer them all!

      I love professional development classes. After completing my master’s program I continued to take graduate classes. I’ve taken a variety of classes and although I could relate what I was learning to teaching art, I felt like I was missing something. I wanted the professional development I took to relate to teaching art. National Board Certification is relevant to your teaching area. You pick a certification area and focus on what you teach. My certificate is Early Adolescent through Young Adulthood Art. (I teach middle school) National Board Certification will give me the opportunity to reflect on my teaching and student learning.    I think everyone can improve in their teaching and National Boards helps improve.  Four of the ten sections are portfolio entries including written reflections of teaching and student learning. The other six of the ten sections are assessments based on content knowledge.

      Achieving certification doesn’t secure my job. The state of Iowa offers a financial incentive of $2,500 per year for ten years for those who achieve certification. My district also offers a financial incentive. The financial rewards are appealing as well as the rewards in my teaching and my classroom.

      You can learn through the process as an individual or as a cohort. There are other people in my district who I plan to create a cohort with. If you ever decide to go through the process, they recommend creating a cohort. There also seems to be a lot of support with in my district of NBCT’s who are willing to help me through the process. Many of the NBCT’s say that National Boards was the best professional development they have ever participated in. I hope I can say the same thing! I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with the AOE readers.

      • erica

        Thanks! I had honestly never heard of this before! I didn’t realize it is like a graduate degree with a potential cohort and classes in a relevant teaching area. Also the financial incentive is a good one. That is a start to a college fund for sure. 

  • Libyad

    The best advice that I can give you:  Unpack the rubrics.   Look at their scoring rubrics for each Portfolio and Assessment.  Be clear about what the the assessors are looking for.  You will not get any extra points for style and flare.  But, as I understand it, the assessors literally have a checklist (read:  the rubrics) that they are looking to see if you met the criteria (anywhere within each Portfolio or Assessment).  There is not an extra spot for ingenuity, just strong evidence that is aligned with (read: matches) what the rubric says.  Think of the rubrics as your “cheat sheet.”  They are telling you exactly what they will be assesssing you on.  When you edit your Portfolio entries, use the scoring rubrics as a checklists.   Did you do everything?  Is it consistently clear.  Make it easy for the assessors to see that you have seriously reflected on everything you did and you can provide evidence of your outcomes/process.  You see, when it comes to the Portfolio Entries, it is not necessary for you to become an art education scholar.  Nor is it necessary to become an Art history buff that knows specific dates, etc. for the Assessments.  Know what they want, be reflective, have good documentation, find ways to explain yourself clearly.

    • Thank you so much for all the advice.  This is so helpful!

  • Jessica Bonilla

    I am currently working on my national board certification and happy to find that there are other art teachers that I can relate too. Thanks for all the wonderful advice.

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