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Teacher Quality: Definition With regard to teacher quality, Nancy Flanagan (2005) states as one of the main contributors to An Open Letter to President Bush on Teaching Quality, Good teaching at all grade levels depends, first, on building relationships with students, forming classroom communities, then, identifying and transferring important knowledge, skills and dispositions in ways that make sense and are useful to kids. When it comes to teacher quality, we often think of a teachers highest academic degree and how long he or she has been teaching. However, a teachers ability to make the knowledge accessible to his or her students is equally important for quality instruction. In this respect, the National Commission on Teaching and Americas Future (NCTAF) identifies attributes of teacher quality as follows: a deep understanding of the subject taught and how children learn, knowledge of technology and demonstrated teaching skills necessary to help children achieve high standards, professional growth in pedagogy and content and the ability to instill a passion for learning in their students (De Leon, 2003).

Description of NBPTS In response to a report about a crumbling American education system described in A Nation at Risk (1983), the Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession suggested to establish a national board for professional teaching standards, which later became the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in 1987. This board is an independent, national nonprofit organization that works to measure teacher performance and help teachers improve their practice, said NBPTS President and CEO Joseph Aguerrebere (2011). In the policy statement, What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do, the National Board clearly states, The National Boards responsibility is not only to ensure that teachers who become National Board Certified meet its professional standards of commitment and competence, but also to maintain standards and assessments that are so well regarded that Americas accomplished teachers will decide to seek National Board Certification(2002). As teachers are building a portfolio including four entries with student work samples, video recordings, and documented collaboration and then preparing for the assessment of their certificate area knowledge, they grow to become experts in teaching and leaders of learning communities by creating more collaborative environment among teachers and administrators, which define what qualified teachers would be like.

Teacher Quality: What it means to me If National Board Certification is the most prestigious credential a teacher can earn as Aguerrebere said, I am sure that I will be a more confident and accomplished teacher by the time I achieve this credential. Being a National Board Certification candidate has already changed my point of view in teaching and my role as a teacher. In the past, the scope of my teaching performance used to be limited to my classroom instruction under the school curriculum; however, now I see that teaching practices can occur beyond the classroom, extending to the relationships with my students families. In the past, I was a diligent and knowledgeable teacher, but now I am also a strong advocate for my students and their parents. Until I started this course, I never visited my students homes, never gave my personal phone number to parents, nor brought extra teaching materials to a mom to help her child. Now that I have done these things, I see the value in extending my roles beyond the walls of my school.

Teacher Quality: Rationale There are several reasons why I chose to pursue National Board Certification. First, I am not a native speaker of English. No matter how many degrees I have in my subject area, I will still be recognized as an Asian teacher in an American school. For me, teaching is not just a job to make a living, but a sacred calling to live by. Therefore, I want to be recognized as an excellent and professional teacher. Achieving National Board Certification will validate that I meet the advanced standards to be a qualified teacher. Second, after four years of teaching in public school and six years of studying in both undergraduate and graduate programs, I am still faced with many challenges as a teacher. I thought I was well prepared after my masters degree and student teaching. During my first year, my mentor helped me implement good teaching practices, and these experiences set the true foundation of my teaching career in America. However, there are still more to learn as I improve my teaching. Therefore, I believe it is an appropriate time for me to challenge myself by seeking the next step, NationalBoard Certification. Third, I am working at a Titlepublic school, where lowincome students are attending and ethnic minorities constitute about eighty percent of the student population. For the past three years, my school did not meet the goals of the Adequate Yearly Progress mandated by the state, so we are now under the constant pressure from a school improvement team to raise our students scores. According to a press release from the National Academies (2008), Students taught by teachers who are board certified make larger gains on achievement test scores than those taught by teachers who are not. If teacher quality is the most critical factor to facilitate students success, I would like to be a member of my school improvement team as a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). Lastly, I would like to be a leader in a community of passionate, high-performing, and outstanding educators. As an NBCT, I would like to be an advocate for the American education reform movement and exchange a variety of reflections on my daily teaching practice with highly-accomplished fellow educators as well as collaborate together with them to utilize effective and innovative teaching methods.

Impact on Teaching and Learning I believe that my achievement of National Board Certification will enhance the quality of my teaching and my students learning. As an NBCT, I would apply my increased confidence to refine my expertise in teaching. According to the study by Vandevoort (2004), Students of NBCTs surpassed students of non-NBCTs in almost three-quarters of the total 48 comparison categories, which comprise four grades, four years of data, and three measures of academic performance. On average, the gains in learning were equivalent to spending about an extra month in school. I believe this certification will help my students perform better academically through well-customized supports to meet their different needs. I intend to be a more actively engaged collaborator in professional learning communities as an NBCT. In a survey, Petty (2003) found significant differences between NBCTs and non-NBCTs: NBCTs wanted to serve in leadership roles, including professional development leaders, student-teacher supervisors, and team leaders and mentors. NBCTs want more autonomy, tend to integrate their work into all aspects of their lives, take risks, use professional journals, and want to be recognized for their accomplishment. I feel it is important to share my growth with less experienced teachers who are just entering the field. For these reasons, I wish to realize my goal to be a National Board Certified Teacher in the near future.