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With 557 North Carolina teachers earning their national certification this month, North Carolina continues to lead the nation with the most teachers holding the credential from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Nearly 22,000 teachers in North Carolina have attained the respected national certification, which is based on a rigorous performance-based assessment that typically takes from one to three years to complete and measures what accomplished teachers and counselors should know and be able to do.

Nationally, 3,970 teachers earned certification in 2017-18, raising the total among all states to more than 122,034. In addition, almost 4,446 teachers nationally achieved recertification, including 946 board-certified teachers in North Carolina.

North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson said students are the beneficiaries of the national certification, which helps teachers become highly effective in the classroom by reaching high standards for teaching and learning.

“Teachers who gain national certification go through a process of learning themselves to hone their practice and demonstrate mastery as teachers,” Johnson said. “I congratulate all of North Carolina’s national board certified teachers.”

North Carolina accounts for nearly one-fifth (18 percent) of all teachers nationally who are certified by the teaching standards organization. Florida ranks second with 13,551 (11 percent of national total) followed by Washington (10,859), South Carolina (9,125) and California (7,065).

Nationally certified teachers also account for a larger percentage of the total teaching force in North Carolina than any other state, with 22 percent having earned the credential. South Carolina ranks second, with 18.7 percent.

North Carolina school districts also continue to rank among the top 30 districts nationally for numbers of teachers with national certification, with seven: Wake County remained first with 2,745; Charlotte-Mecklenburg is fourth with 2,137; Guilford County is ninth with 756; Buncombe County is 17th with 584; Winston-Salem/Forsyth is 18th with 574; New Hanover County is 24th with 514; and Union County is 30th with 448.

Nine North Carolina colleges and universities ranked among the top 50 higher education institutions nationwide with the most alumni holding the national credential, with five of the North Carolina institutions in the top 10. Appalachian State University was first with 2,090, East Carolina University, second with 2,052; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, fourth with 1,410; the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, sixth with 1,353; the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, seventh with 1,226; North Carolina State University, tied for 16th with 933; Western Carolina University, 20th with 877; the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 21st with 854; and Meredith College, 46th with 454.

Teachers in North Carolina who achieve certification receive a 12 percent salary supplement to their regular pay. They also are awarded eight continuing education credits (CEUs).

North Carolina supports teachers pursuing national certification by providing low-interest loans to pay the $1,900 assessment fee and three paid release days from normal teaching duties for new candidates to develop their portfolios. Also, the State Board of Education awards a North Carolina teaching license to out-of-state teachers who are employed in North Carolina and who possess the national certification.

Certification by the National Board is the highest credential in the teaching profession, and participation is voluntary. As a part of the certification process, candidates build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videotapes and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching. Certification is currently available to educators in 25 fields.

The National Board in 2014-15 revised its certification process to make it more flexible and affordable while maintaining the same rigorous standards. Teachers can still earn certification in one year but can choose to take several years depending on their personal circumstances. The overall cost has decreased and candidates may pay for and submit each component separately.

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