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North Carolina ranks first in U.S. for number of National Board Certified Teachers

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North Carolina has the most National Board Certified Teachers in the country, with 24,243 certified teachers — nearly 24% of the state’s teachers — according to new data released by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NCPTS).

North Carolina also ranks second for the number of new National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs), at 549, and for the number of teachers who maintained their certification, at 1,158. The state accounts for nearly 18% of the country’s 137,015 national certified teachers.

“We are so excited to welcome these new NBCTs to the growing ranks of accomplished teachers across the country,” Peggy Brookins, president and CEO of the NCPTS, said in a release. “I am proud to be an NBCT and to be among this incredible cohort of teachers who work tirelessly, day in and day out, to nurture and enhance the brilliance of their students. This week and all year round, the National Board is proud to support and celebrate teachers and is proud to work towards the goal of ensuring every student has equal access to the best teaching possible.”

In North Carolina, teachers who achieve National Board Certification receive a 12% salary increase as part of a new salary schedule. Board certification can also enable teachers to take on leadership roles within their schools and districts.

National Board Certification, offered by the National Board For Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), is a way to recognize the accomplished teaching that is occurring in North Carolina’s classrooms. The certification process is based on high and rigorous standards that evaluate teaching practice through performance-based assessments; the ultimate result is improved performance and achievement for North Carolina’s students.

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI)’s website on National Board Certification

Several North Carolina school districts were also included in the top 25 districts by total number of new NBCTs:

  • Wake County Public Schools System was ranked third with 106 new certified teachers.
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools was ranked sixth with 70 new certified teachers.
  • Union County Public Schools was tied for 18th with 20 new certified teachers.
  • Buncombe County Schools was tied for 21st with 17 new certified teachers.

“The board certification journey is intense and demanding,” Wake County Public School System National Board Coordinator Sherri Morris said in a district release. “We could not be more proud of the accomplishments of our newly certified and newly renewed NBCTs or more grateful that they are WCPSS teachers who serve our students, families, and community with such excellence.”

Take a look at NBCTs around the country in the graphic below.

Screenshot of graphic from 2024 National Board Certified Data. The top number reflects the total number of Board Certified Teachers; the bottom number reflects teachers who became certified in 2023.

Cost of certification

State lawmakers have continued to fund higher pay for national certification, even after dropping higher pay for teachers with master’s degrees.

State data, along with a study released by the National Board, shows certified teachers “significantly outperform their peers who are not Board Certified on 11 of 13 key dimensions of teaching expertise.”

The most recent state budget included $1 million for 2024-25 to create a grant program for teachers seeking national certification.

That program gives priority to teachers in low-performing schools or schools where at least 10% of students are identified as at-risk. The funds are in addition to the $1 million that was allocated in 2023-24 using COVID-19 relief dollars.

For teachers seeking certification, the process costs a good deal of time and money.

The total application process costs $1,900, which can be spread out over three years, plus a $75 non-refundable registration fee for each year the application process spans. The process takes 200 hours or more.

Maintaining the certification costs $495, plus a $75 registration fee.

In North Carolina, the state offers a low-cost loan program for eligible candidates after they apply for certification. Candidates who receive a loan have three years to repay it. The first year of the loan as interest-free, and subsequent years have a 3% rate.

“The deadline to apply for the loan in the 2023-2024 cycle is January 31, 2024, or until all funds are dissolved, whichever comes first,” DPI’s website says.

You can learn more about the certification process on DPI’s website. You can also contact Sonja Brown, DPI’s educator advancement lead, with questions by email. Here is a list of certification coordinators by school district.

Hannah Vinueza McClellan

Hannah McClellan is EducationNC’s senior reporter and covers education news and policy, and faith.