TRUTH: The written commentary questions come from the standards that are being assessed in the entry. Following the requirements of the entry and answering the questions allows you to address the standards. Citing the standards and referring to them regularly is not necessary. As a suggestion, comparing your responses to "How Will My Entry Be Scored?" will also help identify the link between the standards and your responses. Remember, the rubrics are derived directly from the standards.
TRUTH: The video that you choose should reflect the reality of your classroom. The National Board is not looking for the perfect class; assessors are focused on your discussion of the personality of the class and its varying levels of abilities, how you match the students to your choice of goals and instruction, and how you adjust when something does not go quite so seamlessly. The best video you choose may very well be the one where events do not go perfectly because it reflects what happens in the class on a daily basis.
Also be aware that NBPTS has received numerous complaints from concerned parents who question the National Board Certification process when their children are subjected to "learning" the same lesson over and over again.
TRUTH: Candidates need to see which portfolio entries best fit their current units. Some adjustments or revisions may be needed, but there is no need to develop new lessons. National Board Certification is about a teacher presenting the reality of his/her work. Certainly, reflecting on the process may make a candidate modify instruction, but there is rarely any need for a candidate to build brand new lessons.
TRUTH: Every portfolio should reflect the individuality of the candidate and the candidate's students. Therefore, there is no one successful "look" to a portfolio entry, and no ideal formula. Candidates need to focus on how their evidence connects best to the commentary questions. Candidates need to write with their own voice.
TRUTH: Although content knowledge is addressed in both the portfolio and assessment center, the focus is different. In the case of the portfolio, the candidate applies the content knowledge. In the case of the assessment center, the candidate is tested solely on their content knowledge. There is no causal relationship.
Besides, there is flexibility offered by the year-round calendar, which allows a candidate to test at his/her convenience and avoids a heavy volume of testers between April and June. Remember there is no extension of time for those who are unable to squeeze in an assessment center appointment.
TRUTH: The main goal is to make sure that as much of the conversation as possible can be heard, and as many of the students (and candidate) can be seen. As long as the equipment allows this, there should be no problem. Assessors are not looking for an award-winning film.
TRUTH: Candidate support providers/mentors are often available to help guide candidates through the process by reading materials, looking at videotapes, and posing questions to focus the candidate on what he or she has composed. Ultimately however, the portfolio is the candidate's. It reflects the candidate's students, planning, instruction, and reflection. No matter how much the candidate support provider/mentor may help, the decision of accomplishment reflects how well the candidate has articulated his or her practice in relationship to the standards of accomplished teaching.
TRUTH: Although classroom teachers may not use the term frequently, they do apply the concept: "Big Ideas" are the threads that tie together all the sciences. This concept comes from and is a major part of the National Science Education Standards developed by the National Academy of Sciences. The EC/Gen, MC/Gen, EA/Science and AYA Science portfolio instructions go into detail about the Big Idea and also provide a link to the National Science Education Web site.
TRUTH: All teachers have moments in teaching where things are going well. The assessment process honors the success, and the reflection offers opportunity for the teacher to reflect on how they could build upon that success. Encourage candidates to not "cheapen" the process by searching for something wrong. Assessors don't value "what's wrong" over "what's right." Assessors are looking for evidence of accomplished teaching. Candidates should be encouraged to present their strengths and weaknesses, but not create or search for something that is wrong in their practice.
TRUTH: The "My Portfolio* CD-ROM provided to candidates was developed as an interactive, Web-enabled tool. Candidates can select sections as related to their work at the moment. Individual pages can be printed when they are needed. Candidates miss the richness and value of the CD-ROM if they fail to use it. Just because the support provider put together a binder, doesn't mean this tradition must continue. Candidates should create their own organization and reference system that works for them, not for the support provider.
TRUTH: The DA is all about the connection between your work as a professional and its impact on student learning. Return to the portfolio directions that clearly state the connection required to the students in the candidate's classroom or school building. A resume is likely to contain a series of accomplishments that do not reflect the standards, or the connection of those accomplishments to student learning. As an example, think about the fact that good authors are not always good teachers.
TRUTH: The DA is not a contest about the number of crowns on a teacher's head, Candidates most often miss connecting the DA to student learning. When they receive a score lower than expected, they have trouble understanding the disconnect and often question the scoring process and accuse assessors of being biased against them. While the DA is the least weighted portfolio entry, it has become the most frequently appealed by candidates because they want their 'crowns' re-counted instead of reflecting on their impact on student learning.
TRUTH: Think about the purpose of the DA. Its value is a review of teaching practice over 5 years, including the year of candidacy. It could be considered as the "entry of reflection" on the candidate's work with students, parents, the profession and the community. It isn't about the awards or a distinguished resume. While it may take some time to log communications over time and obtain verification on certain forms, this is process or work time, not analytical reflection - which is a concept candidates often miss on this entry when they do not receive the score they expect.
TRUTH: No one teacher reads all 10 components of a candidate's performances. The performances of first-time candidates in existing certificates are scored by a minimum of 12 practicing classroom teachers and 25% of a candidate's work is double-scored. In addition, due to read-behinds by trainers (who are also practicing classroom teachers) and cases needing adjudication, third reads are often made.
All performances submitted by retake candidates are always double-scored.All candidate work submitted for new certificate areas are double-scored in the first year of their administration, which means a minimum of 20 practicing classroom teachers have looked at a candidate's performances in these certificates.
In addition, each portfolio entry is scored in a different location of the country, and the same portfolio entry is usually scored by the same group of assessors, which enables NBPTS to catch identical cases submitted by two different candidates.
TRUTH: National Board Certification is a rigorous assessment of a candidate's ability to demonstrate standards of accomplished teaching practice. There are many ways to demonstrate the standards. There is no template for success. No particular teaching methodology is described in the standards or favored in the assessment. Assessors look for clear, convincing and consistent evidence of accomplished practice wherever it appears and make no judgments on teaching styles and approaches.
TRUTH: The National Board employs over 2,400 trainers and assessors every summer to assess candidate performances. Assessors must teach in the same content and developmental level as the candidate performances they are scoring. They must successfully complete a rigorous training in order to qualify to score candidate performances. Scoring sessions are held in over 20 locations across the country and span two to three weeks in June and in July.
TRUTH: There are no fatal flaws. Assessors are trained to find evidence where it exists. Assessors are practicing classroom teachers who are trained to be supportive in their job, not punitive. However, assessors are also trained to ensure that rules are followed in ways that keep situations from happening where one candidate has an advantage over all others. That is why, for example, assessors are instructed to stop reading at the required number of pages, even if the extra pages contain evidence. If a candidate clearly is trying to 'beat the system" and violates the rules of fairness for everyone, assessors are instructed to not score.
TRUTH: Removal of names is done to protect the candidate as well as any colleagues and/or students from any geographical or ethnic bias during scoring. The National Board spends a great deal of time during training dealing with bias. However, accidentally including a name will not affect a score.
More importantly, National Board Certification is not a deductive model. There are no such things as "points", and points are not "taken off." This is an evidence-collecting model, where evidence is collected and evaluated. After reviewing a candidate's entire performance, assessors are asked to step back and evaluate the preponderance of evidence in order to determine the score.
TRUTH: The written commentary and video/student work complement each other. Assessors are trained to read the commentary first and collect evidence. Then they look at the student work or video and collect evidence there. Before assigning a score, the assessors step back and look at the match between the two components. If that is missing, then a lower score is assigned. Both the written commentary and the student work/video are important components to understanding the evidence provided by the candidate.
TRUTH: It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure the accuracy of what is submitted. NBPTS does not notify candidates if something is missing. The warehouse processes rely on barcodes and strict procedures that depend on computer equipment, not human handling. No NBPTS employee is responsible to "watch over" the accuracy of candidate submissions. There are over 20,000 candidates submitting over 60,000 portfolio entries that arrive at the warehouse around the same time frame. This volume will only increase and demonstrate why personal one-on-one attention to a box is a misguided assumption.
TRUTH: Scoring is precise, psychometrically sound, and must be legally defensible. Extensive statistical analyses are routinely conducted on all scores so that NBPTS can legally stand behind its scoring process and scores. Candidates should give careful consideration to their reason for appealing. Pay attention to the appeal policy. The candidate must be able to make a case that something happened that was fundamentally unfair to them. An appeal does not mean that a performance will be automatically "re-scored." Also remember that every candidate receives the benefit of a 12 point constant added to their score, so a 274 is really a 262.
TRUTH: NBPTS does not have control over the quality of services provided by outside companies used by candidates, including the USPS, UPS, Federal Express, etc. Shipping requires handling by a wide variety of individuals during transport. Candidates should always keep a copy of their work. If damage occurs, NBPTS contacts the candidate and requests that they provide a copy within a certain number of days (to ensure a candidate doesn't create a new submission, in the interest of fairness). Candidates should use "My Profile," their online private Web page, to check on the receipt of their portfolio.
TRUTH: Assessors are given extensive bias training to make them aware of any preconceptions they may have that may influence their scores. Bias training does cover ethnic and geographical diversity, but it also delves into professional biases (e.g. messy classroom, poor equipment etc.) any teacher may come to have. Trainers are trained to revisit the bias training with assessors on a regular basis during scoring.
TRUTH: Obsessing about commas is wasted energy. Assessors collect and evaluate evidence of accomplished teaching; they do not focus oh the superficial.
TRUTH: Scoring is conducted, monitored and supervised in a sophisticated and professional manner. Scores assigned by assessors are monitored and calibrated in regular intervals. Each score assigned by an assessor is logged and monitored by experienced scoring personnel, who watch for discrepancies in scoring, unusual patterns, etc. Assessors are continually recalibrated via seeded cases in order to ensure reliability of scoring. Trainers hold individual conferences with assessors, as needed and appropriate. There is a daily schedule that is strictly adhered to, with breaks and lunch. Assessors are not "grading papers' - they are recording the evidence provided by the candidate.
TRUTH: There are 6 prompts that are content-driven, for which a candidate has up to 30 minutes to respond. Candidates should stop typing when they've answered the question. They should not feel the need to type for all 30 minutes. There is a risk that in continuing to write, candidates may include some misinformation or ramble unnecessarily.
TRUTH: The assessment center exercises are content based; the standards guide which content is being tested. In certain certificates such as EC/Gen, knowledge of pedagogy is the content knowledge discussed in the standards. No certificate exercises test content that is not part of an accomplished teacher's fundamental knowledge.
TRUTH: A certain level of technical expertise is expected of accomplished teachers, as defined by the NBPTS standards. Candidates are expected to submit portfolio entries that are typed and must be able to respond to prompts that are delivered via a computer located in an assessment center.
TRUTH: Assessors don't look for what is wrong and don't sit in personal judgment of what a candidate should have done. It is not a deficit model. Assessors are trained to record the evidence provided by the candidate. Even if a candidate were to see a scoring record (called an ESR, or Exercise Scoring Record), it would not reveal what they are searching for because it does not suggest "what is wrong" or "what should have happened." It contains only the evidence of accomplished teaching, as provided by the candidate.
TRUTH: The actual score point should be regarded only as the indicator of accomplishment. It does not determine the extent to which a candidate achieved. Scores should be used solely for the purpose of determining National Board Certification. Any other use would be a misrepresentation of these score data.
TRUTH: A teacher who certifies has demonstrated that they are capable of teaching at an accomplished level at one point in time. The fact that they are choosing not to regularly practice at that level is an unfortunate choice that teacher may be making.
TRUTH: Each portfolio entry assesses a different subset of the standards. Certainly, some standards are emphasized in all three classroom entries (e.g. Knowledge of Students), but there is enough of a difference both with the standards and the "What Do I Need To Do?" for each portfolio entry that there is no assurance that if a candidate does well in one video entry, that the same would be true for the others.
TRUTH: National Board Certification is a high-stakes assessment, especially in states where NBCTs receive salary increases once they have achieved. It might be a difficult idea to accept, but even teachers are sometimes regretfully more focused on the money than the process.
Every candidate and all scoring staff sign confidentiality agreements intended to protect the integrity of the assessment program. The National Board has and will continue to impose serious consequences on anyone, even an NBCT, who breaks their confidentiality agreement and intentionally compromises the integrity of the assessment program.
Everyone involved in the National Board Certification Program should be very familiar with the NBPTS Certification Denial or Revocation policy.