improve teacher quality. We identified the following issues to investigate and to provide evidence about the cost-effectiveness of the national board’s certification program, specifically:

  1. What are the benefits of the certification program?

  2. What are the costs associated with the certification program?

  3. What other approaches have been shown to bring about improvement in teacher quality? What are their costs and benefits?

It is important to note that the existing research base for such an inquiry is inadequate. The cost side is not the issue. Although there have not been extensive examinations of the costs associated with the NBPTS, a relatively coarse consideration of costs is sufficient for the task at hand. Rather, it is the benefits side of the analysis that is the problem. Furthermore, while the evidence about the benefits of the NBPTS is inadequate for a thorough cost-effectiveness evaluation, even less is known about the benefits of other interventions to improve teacher quality. As a result, the kind of cost-effectiveness comparison one would like to perform, and as stated in our charge, is not possible at this time. Despite the inadequacies in the evidence base, we lay out the issues to the extent that available research and data allow. In the sections that follow, we first consider the benefits, the costs, and the resulting cost-effectiveness of board certification as a route to improving teacher quality. We then examine the available information about the cost-effectiveness of four comparison interventions.


Before considering the specific benefits of the NBPTS, we step back to consider the ways in which an intervention intended to improve teacher quality might operate. There are three kinds of benefits such an intervention might produce:

  1. Identifying highly skilled teachers.

  2. Improving the practices of teachers who go through the program.

  3. Improving the quality of teachers throughout the education system, keeping accomplished teachers in the field, and attracting stronger teacher candidates in the future.

We note here that simply identifying highly skilled teachers provides no direct benefit, and therefore the first benefit requires that some action be taken once highly skilled teachers are identified. For example, administrators and policy makers could implement incentives for teachers who are identified as highly skilled, either to encourage them to remain in teaching

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