be answered with the existing data. Most important, no existing data sets make it possible to determine exactly where board-certified teachers work. We can identify where teachers were employed at the time of application, but we do not know what teachers do after becoming board certified—even whether they stay in their original school or transfer elsewhere. Thus, we cannot evaluate the distribution of board-certified teachers across the country. This is a topic we return to in Chapter 9, where we address teachers’ career paths.
From the committee’s examination of participation patterns, it is not clear whether the board should be judged successful at creating a significant cadre of advanced certified teachers, and we spent considerable time debating what, if any, conclusions to draw and recommendations to make. On one hand, the founders of the NBPTS never expected that all teachers in the country would become board certified. They intended the credential to create an upper echelon in the profession, with only the most accomplished teachers attaining this level. If the upper echelon was interpreted to mean the top 10 percent of teachers, one might expect that eventually roughly 400,000 teachers would become board certified. If one were to assume that all of the current total of 63,800 board-certified teachers were still teaching, the NBPTS would be about one-sixth of the way toward achieving this goal.
On the other hand, the founders did expect that there would be an ever-increasing number of these accomplished teachers, in sufficient supply that administrators could call on them to perform in leadership roles, and that this cadre would influence the professional development of other teachers. In many places, the current numbers of board-certified teachers and annual applicant and success rates are not sufficient to realize these objectives. However, in a few districts, the numbers are approaching levels likely to be sufficient for the program to have the intended effects.
Judgments about the program should be based on a complete examination of its benefits and costs. The other aspects of our evaluation framework all bear on this kind of judgment, so we reserve our overarching conclusions for the final chapter of this report. At this point we draw two conclusions about participation, based on the information that we have reviewed:
Conclusion 6-1: Although the number of teachers who have obtained certification is small relative to the population of eligible U.S. teachers, the total has grown since the program began and is now over 63,800. Participation varies significantly by state and district, however; in a few districts, participation rates are approaching levels likely to be sufficient for the program to have the intended effects.