What Does Washington State Get for Its Investment in Bonuses for Board Certified Teachers?

In 2007, the state of Washington passed
legislation offering $5,000 bonuses to its national board-certified teachers
(NBCT). To sweeten the pot and address the “teacher quality gap,” the NBCTs
would get another $5,000 per year if they taught at a “challenging school,” or
one with a concentration of low-income students (70 percent at the
elementary-level down to 50 percent at the high-school level). In December
2010, Gov. Christine Gregoire proposed suspending the program due to budget
cuts. This latest Rapid Response paper from the Center for Reinventing Public
Education (CRPE) assesses how well the program has met its two main goals: to
improve teacher quality through board certification and to attract stronger
teachers to disadvantaged schools. The upshot: The program probably isn’t worth
the hefty price tag. (Program costs have tripled since its inception. Over the
next two years, it is slated to cost Washington a cool $100 million). First, CRPE
notes that past research shows no causal relationship between national-board
certification and quality teaching. That is, gaining national-board certification
does not improve a teacher’s efficacy. Second, CRPE examines state data and
concludes that, even with the $5,000 bonus, less than 1 percent of NBCTs in the
Evergreen State moved from low- to high-poverty schools. During these austere
times, a hard rethink of ineffective programs would be wise across the other forty-nine
states, too.

Jim Simpkins, “What
Does Washington State Get for Its Investment in Board Certified Teachers?
,” (Seattle, WA: Center for Reinventing
Public Education, March 2011).