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November 9, 2011

ESU Director Measures Up – Again

picture - Roger CaswellLast year Roger Caswell, Director of Great Plains Center for National Teacher Certification at Emporia State University, had to decide if he could follow his own counsel: he was one of a handful of Kansas educators deciding if he wanted to go through a rigorous journey – again.

Within the last ten years, Caswell went through the year-long process of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). A year ago, he decided he needed to go through the process to renew his certificate as the life of his original 10-year certificate was about to expire.

“Even though I am no longer in the classroom on a daily basis, I feel it’s important I keep my certification to maintain the level of service and support I provide to teachers going through this process,” said Caswell, director of ESU’s program which assists teachers working toward national certification.

In late October Caswell found out his work had measured up again when he received notice his national board certification was renewed.

Caswell is nationally board certified in English Language Arts / Early Adolescence.

“Board certification for educators is very much like how a doctor becomes certified in a special area,” Caswell said. “This is voluntary – no state, school district, or program is demanding them to go through this process. That’s why – a decade after earning their certification the first time – it’s a huge commitment to say, ‘Yes, I want to do it again.’”

While the national board process is often misunderstood to mean a teacher passed a test or was nominated for the award, Caswell explained the certification is a different kind of honor. Teachers must submit extensive documentation of their instruction, including videos of their students at work in the classroom.

The accomplishment of national board certification benefits the teachers, the schools they work in, and studies have shown NBCTs improve student learning. And the program hosted at ESU, Great Plains Center for National Teacher Certification, benefits as it maintains a 100% renewal rate with candidates achieving recertification on their first attempt. More information about ESU’s program can be found at www.emporia.edu/jones/nbpts/.

Kansas currently has a total of 318 national board certified teachers. Nationwide, the total number of national board certified teachers is more than 91,000.


National Board Certification is the highest credential in the teaching profession. A voluntary process established by NBPTS, certification is achieved through a rigorous performance-based assessment that takes between one and three years to complete and measures what accomplished teachers and school counselors should know and be able to do. The program for providing professional support for the certification has been available at ESU since 1993.   

Is your teacher national board certified?

They are among the best teachers in the profession, undergoing a rigorous process taking at least one year.

They are told to expect a 400-hour time commitment, and less than half will pass on their first try.

National Board Certified Teachers represent less than one percent of all educators in Kansas, reflecting the dedication and skill required to earn the elite certification. The voluntary process is the equivalent of national board certification for physicians and other health professions.

Some 318 teachers in Kansas are national board-certified, with many teaching in larger school districts.

School District        

Total # Certified

Blue Valley








Geary County


To see a list of National Board Certified Teachers in Kansas, go to www.nbpts.org/resources/nbct_directory/.

Kansas is 35th in the nation in total number of NBCTs.

By late November teachers who worked toward initial certification during the 2010-11 school year will find out if they achieved National Board Certification.