appropriate teacher certification tests. The first two requirements may be combined in the same program.
Colleges of education in Texas generally do not offer bachelor’s degrees that include teacher training programs, but the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture, where Li works, does offer an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree that is acceptable for certification.
One way in which U.S. teachers gain enhanced recognition and responsibilities is through advanced certification. For example, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which is a nongovernmental, nonprofit, and independent certification organization, has certified more than 70,000 teachers since the program began in 1987. In many states and districts, board certification triggers additional pay. Teachers also can earn greater pay and higher professional standing through graduate education and certification programs offered by educational institutions and other organizations.
In addition, teachers in the United States can earn a variety of honors and awards offered by government at various levels, colleges and universities, foundations, and private-sector organizations. For example, several presenters at the workshop had received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching. These kinds of honors and awards “help promote school education in this country,” mentioned Li.
The criteria for these awards are not always clear or consistent, Li observed. Also, the achievements of the teachers who are honored do not necessarily paint a consistent picture of effective teaching.
As Jennifer Bay-Williams of the University of Louisville pointed out, many teachers remain classroom teachers for their entire careers. In general, pay rises with seniority and additional levels of education. An additional problem with both certification and awards, mentioned Bay-Williams, is that not many teachers strive for these exceptional levels of achievement. “It’s not a systematic thing where everyone is trying and only a few get it,” commented Bay-Williams. “We just have a few who are trying.” Similarly, merit-based pay systems, in which teachers are rewarded on the basis of specific output, have been “largely unsuccessful” in the United States, she pointed out. “Many teachers don’t like to be in competition, or on a career ladder, or having to put materials forth to show how good they are.”