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Two Gresham teachers renew national certification, district has most in state

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: GRESHAM-BARLOW SCHOOL DISTRICT - Gresham-Barlow superintendent Jim Schlachter (far left) and board chair Carla Piluso congratulate Christopher Alsop (glasses) and Scott McCoy on renewing their National Board Certification.   Two Gresham-Barlow School District teachers have been honored by the school board for renewing their national board certification, a demanding process that only a small percentage of the country’s teachers complete.

The board honored Christopher Alsop, a music teacher at Hollydale and East Gresham elementary schools and Scott McCoy, a language arts teacher at Clear Creek Middle School.

National board certification “is perhaps the most powerful professional development experience available to teachers who are interested in improving their teaching practice,” said Randy Bryant, Gresham-Barlow’s director of human resources. “It goes way beyond the requirements for a state teaching license.”

Oregon has 309 nationally board certified teachers. The Gresham-Barlow district, with 21, has the most certified teachers of any district in the state. Oregon City is second with 20 and the state’s largest school district, Portland, has 18.

Nationally there are more than 110,000 board certified teachers, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the body that grants certification.

Earning national certification is a long and grueling process of compiling portfolios of work, taking classes and tests. It generally requires hundreds of hours of unpaid work.

To earn national board certification, teachers must submit student work samples and show exactly how their teaching has improved student learning. Classroom discussions are video taped and submitted. Teachers are tested not only on their mastery of teaching techniques, but also on their knowledge of their subject matter.

To renew the certification, teachers must “show how they have continued their professional involvement and commitment to accomplished teaching,” Bryant said.

To renew, “they must submit a portfolio with four entries and two videos to provide sufficient evidence of how their practices meet national teaching standards and that their profession growth has focused on increased student learning,” Bryant said.

The goal of certification is “to establish high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do,” according to National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The group said research shows that students taught by board-certified teachers do better than their peers taught by professionals who have not gone through the process.