At its January 15th meeting, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Board of Education recognized the accomplishments of the district’s four newly certified National Board teachers.

The teachers who have earned this certification are Sarah Frederick from Roosevelt Elementary School, who has been teaching for 11 years; Elizabeth Maccani at Webster Elementary School, who has been teaching for six years; Constanza Murcia from Edison Language Academy, who has been teaching for 14 years; and Marybeth Reardon from Santa Monica High School, who has been teaching for seven years.

Though support for this process varies nationally, the district offers support to its candidates by reimbursing them for all application fees, providing one-on-one support from current National Board Certified Teachers, providing sub days while working on the process, and a monetary reimbursement for supplies when they complete the process.

When they achieve certification, the district offers a stipend for the ten years teachers are certified in return for service hours in the area of professional development for colleagues.

Currently, the district has 52 National Board Certified Teachers, six of whom are now administrators.

Dr. Susan Samarge-Powell, coordinator of teacher support in the district’s Human Resources Department, introduced the newly certified teachers at the board meeting, and explained the history and process of National Board Certification.

The National Boards for the Professional Teaching Standards is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan and non-governmental organization governed by a board of directors, with the majority of its members being classroom teachers.

It was created in 1987 in response to the 1983 President’s Commission on Excellence in Education report. The report, in addition to the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy’s Task force on Teaching as a profession report led to the development of the National Boards.

National Board Certification is a symbol of professional teaching excellence. It was created so that teachers, like professionals in other fields, can achieve distinction by demonstrating through a demanding performance assessment that they meet high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do.

Teachers must demonstrate their knowledge and skills through a series of performance-based assessments that include student work samples, videotapes and rigorous analysis of their classroom teaching and student learning. Written exercises probe the depth of their subject matter knowledge and their understanding of how to teach those subjects to their students.

Teachers who have earned this certification say that they are strengthened in their practice and the beneficiaries of their improvement are the students in their classrooms.

Currently, there are candidates from across the district pursuing National Board Certification. The teachers range from elementary to high school and their years of teaching experience vary. They will complete their process this June and will find out if they are certified from the National Boards in December.

In California, 365 teachers achieved certification this year, for a total of 4,240, which helped make California sixth in the nation in the overall total of National Board Certified Teachers.

“As exciting as that sounds,” Samarge-Powell concluded during her presentation to the board on January 15th, “just over one percent of California’s teachers are Nationally Board Certified; whereas in our district, we have just over eight percent of our 650 teachers who are certified. We are small, but mighty.”