OXFORD, Miss. – For 172 Mississippi educators, the University of Mississippi’s World Class Teaching Program is a means to become certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, an organization dedicated to fostering excellence in the classroom.
This year’s record enrollment makes the 10-year-old program the largest of its kind in Mississippi and accounts for more than 65 percent of Mississippi’s national board candidates. Upon passing national boards, Mississippi public school teachers receive a $6,000 salary bump funded by the state Legislature, plus other professional benefits.“Becoming a nationally board-certified teacher can be rigorous,” said program coordinator Jackie Parker, a national board certified teacher and former Mississippi Teacher of the Year. “The process is designed to help keep Mississippi’s accomplished teachers in their classrooms. So far, Mississippi has a total of 264 national board candidates for the 2012-13 cycle. We’ve recruited and are mentoring 172 of those. It’s our goal to lead those teachers through the process.”
Supported by the UM School of Education, Mississippi’s largest teacher preparation institution that produces nearly of quarter of the state’s new education graduates each year, the World Class Teaching Program, or WCTP, supports teachers in north Mississippi with regular workshops and mentorship programs to prepare them for their board examinations. Teachers select areas to become certified in based on subject areas and grade levels.
“The mentors have all successfully completed the process,” said Tammy Kirkland, an alumna of the program and current WCTP mentor in New Albany. “They share their journey and help keep you aware of the deadlines, which are very important.”
Parker runs workshops with teachers in Batesville, Booneville, Clarksdale, Fulton, Lambert, Lake Cormorant, Olive Branch, Oxford, Senatobia, Southaven, Tupelo and Winona.
According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the national first-time passage rate for teachers taking national boards is nearly 30 percent. WCTP candidates pay an annual fee to take part in the twice-monthly workshops and have a first-time passage rate of more than 50 percent, Parker said. All teachers must present a portfolio and demonstrate content proficiency in selected subjects to pass the examination.
Other benefits to the board certification include career advancement, mobility of licensure – many states will grant teaching licenses based on a national board credential – salary increases and acquiring of continuing education credits.
“I have several degrees, but it is the national board certificate that is framed and hanging on my wall,” Kirkland said. “When a fellow educator sees the letters, NBCT, behind a person’s name they instantly think that individual is willing to go beyond what is expected both professionally and personally.”