effectiveness evaluation of the NBPTS, primarily due to a lack of research documenting benefits. We note that it was not necessarily the case that there is evidence of no benefits, but that the evidence base is simply too thin, and findings from research that has been conducted are in need of corroboration. For example, research on the effects of board certification on teachers’ longevity in the field and studies of the extent to which the certification process improves their effectiveness (as described in Chapters 8 and 9) have the potential to yield estimates of benefits that could be used in future cost-effectiveness evaluations. It was also not possible to compare the effectiveness of the NBPTS with other mechanisms for improving teacher quality—such as alternative kinds of advanced-certification programs for teachers, encouraging teachers to pursue master’s degrees, and providing inservice professional development—because of a lack of information on both the costs and benefits of these activities. While our cost analysis suggests that the annual per-teacher costs associated with board certification are probably lower than annual per-teacher costs of obtaining a master’s degree, a sufficient number of rigorous studies was not available to allow us to compare the benefits of these two interventions in a meaningful way. Thus, we conclude:
Conclusion 11-2: At this time, it is not possible to conduct a thorough cost-effectiveness evaluation of the NBPTS because of the paucity of data on the benefits of the program and on both the costs and benefits of other mechanisms intended to improve teacher quality. Such an evaluation should be undertaken if and when the necessary evidence becomes available.
Because of the lack of evidence for a thorough cost-effectiveness evaluation, we undertook a somewhat speculative approach to considering the cost-effectiveness of the NBPTS. We laid out three kinds of potential benefits. To date, the existing research provides evidence of only one of these benefits: identification of high-quality teachers. We pointed out that this benefit cannot be realized without some additional action that makes use of the skills of board-certified teachers, and we explored the hypothetical example of requiring all experienced teachers to become board certified. While this is a policy that has not yet been tried, tested, or debated, we think it is worth considering, possibly on a localized basis for all teachers or teachers in some schools. Given the substantial investment that has already been made in the NBPTS certification program, it is important to consider not only the cost-effectiveness of NBPTS certification as a realized mechanism for improving teacher quality, but also its potential if it were to be used more actively by states as a policy lever for improving teacher quality throughout the education system.