By Elena Barbre
Teachers who took the Graduate School of Education (GSE) courses to prepare for certification by the National
Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) the only national teaching
certification had a 92 percent pass rate this year, compared
with a 52 percent average pass rate nationwide.
National board certification, a voluntary
process established by the NBPTS, is a rigorous,
yearlong, performance-based assessment for
kindergarten through grade 12 teachers, says education
professor Joan Isenberg, director of GSE's Advanced Studies
in Teaching and Learning Program.
Isenberg, along with Marlene Henriques and Faye Wagoner, adjunct professors who are
board-certified teachers in the Fairfax County
Public Schools, developed the two-semester
graduate-level course that takes candidates through the process
step by step. The course's 92 percent pass rate in each
of the two years it has been taught is an
accomplishment almost unheard of in the profession.
"The key to the course's success is that it
is taught by board-certified teachers, who have
been through the process and know where the pitfalls
lie," says Henriques, who teaches at Kings Park
The collegiality, networking opportunities, and sharing of ideas that result from a cohort of
professionals facing certification together is also key.
"Our course enables the candidates to meet other
colleagues in their same certification area and to
share ideas outside the classroom," says Henriques. "It
also triggers new ideas and helps them see things
from others' perspectives."
People around the country are starting to look
to George Mason's program as a model for teacher preparation for board certification, says
Isenberg. "This year, we've tripled the number of people
we're supporting with our preparation courses."
"George Mason's record is the envy of the
field," says Gary Galluzzo, former dean of GSE and
now executive vice president for NBPTS. "I know of
no group that has achieved the same level of success.
It appears that George Mason has figured out the proper way to help teachers think like
national board-certified teachers."