November 15, 2012

Shawnee Mission Teacher Measures Up – Again

Karen Tritt Karen Tritt recently found her work as an educator in the Shawnee Mission School District measured up to be worthy of the highest credential available to American educators. She successfully renewed her certification as a National Board Certified Teacher through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

Last year the Shawnee Mission West High School Spanish teacher was one of a handful of Kansas educators deciding if she wanted to go through the rigorous journey toward certification again.

A decade ago, during the 2002-03 school year, Tritt went through the challenging year-long process of becoming a National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT). A year ago, she chose to attempt to renew her certificate as the life of her original 10-year certificate was soon to expire.

In late October Tritt was informed her certificate in World Languages Other than English/Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood was renewed.

Tritt is one of six NBCTs working in USD 512. A recent comprehensive study by the nonpartisan National Research Council found students taught by board certified teachers make higher gains on achievement tests than students taught by other teachers.

“This process of board certification is similar to how a doctor becomes certified in a special area,” said Dr. Roger Caswell, former director of Emporia State University’s program which assists teachers working toward national certification. “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.’”

The process is often misunderstood to mean a teacher passed a test or was nominated for the award. Alvin Peters, the current director of the program, adds, “National Board 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.”

ESU’s Great Plains Center for National Teacher Certification maintains a 100% renewal rate with candidates achieving recertification on their first attempt. This is the eighth consecutive year the center’s renewal rate has reached 100%. More information about ESU’s program can be found at

Kansas currently has a total of 355 national board certified teachers. Nationwide, the total number of national board certified teachers is more than 97,000.