COLUMBIA — Jefferson Junior High School reading teacher Anna Osborn achieved National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification in November, a high honor for teachers.
"I was overjoyed," Osborn said. "National Board takes a lot of work, and it really made me feel validated that all of my hard work paid off. Anyone who goes through this process knows that you're doing it to become a better teacher. We're constantly trying to become better at what we do."
Osborn began the National Board certification process in 2004 when she was living in southern Louisiana, but Hurricane Katrina hit, and she moved to Columbia. She began teaching at Jefferson Junior and tried again for certification. She didn't achieve it at first but asked for an appeal and finally became certified.
"Anna is an incredible find for us at Columbia Public Schools," said Mary Laffey, assistant superintendent for human resources. "It's a specialty, and we have people who set the bar high for themselves and to benefit the children and the community.
The National Board certification process can take up to three years. To apply, teachers must have taught for three years and have a state certification. Teachers from all levels and subjects can apply. Teachers submit portfolios with student work, their own written analysis of their teaching, examples of work done outside the classroom such as working with student families and videos of themselves teaching. In addition, there is a written assessment with six essay questions pertaining to their area of education.
"I think the best part of the process was that it forces you to step back and look at all the things you do as a teacher and organize it in your brain," Osborn said. "It makes you a great teacher and gets you to seek out colleagues who have gone through the process who are good at what they do."
The assessment costs $2,500 with an additional $65 application fee, but scholarships are available, according to James Minichello, media relations director for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the organization that administers the certification.
Students taught by National Board certified teachers have higher gains on achievement tests than those who are taught by teachers without the certification, according to a study by the National Research Council.
National Board certification also improves teacher retention and professional development, said Minichello. Additionally, achieving National Board certification adds $5,000 to a teacher's salary in Columbia, according the the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Web site.
Columbia Public Schools ranks fourth in the state, with 29 National Board certified teachers, according to a news release from .
"It shows the level of caliber of teachers in the district," Laffey said. "The standards are extremely high, and it represents a level of personal commitment."
This year, 76 teachers achieved certification in Missouri, which ranked 19th in the nation. Nationally, 9,600 teachers were certified, setting a record for the second year in a row, Minichello said.