National Board's 2006 Annus Horribilus seems to be spilling over into 2007 with news out of South Carolina that Republican Governor Mark Sanford wants to ax lucrative incentives for Board-certified teachers. Facing a price tag of $52 million, Sanford apparently said No mas-- but promises to redirect the money to districts which implement another popular performance-based system in South Carolina, the TAP model. It's not clear yet if Sanford will get his way with a legislature that has long supported the Board program and denied previous efforts by Sanford to make cuts in state funding.
In a statement that may not have been quite the right tactic to take with Board skeptics, National Board president Joseph A. Aguerrebere, Jr. said the popularity of the program proves that it works: "If this was not a good thing and if teachers did not see a value in it, we wouldn't see the numbers growing." Obviously teachers don't mind getting $7,500 more a year, as they do in South Carolina when they earn Board certification.
In general, the Board may be misplaying its reaction to its bad research news of late. Rather than pretend that these most recent studies don't mean anything, that they're negated by earlier studies that everyone knows were not up to snuff, the Board should make a public statement that it fully intends to retool the process for earning certification. Fifteen years ago, the Board could do little to measure a teacher's effectiveness fairly; increasingly it is becoming a practical option. The Board, given its political clout, could be a prominent voice in the push to arrive at fair objective measures of teacher performance aligned with student learning.