According to a recent news story, Arizona has nearly doubled the number of its National Board Certified teachers in the past five years. This is impressive, to say the least. The year I completed NBC was no doubt my most challenging year, and now, ten years later, I still feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment at having achieved National Board Certification. The process took hundreds of hours, expected me to reflect deeply and honestly on my practice, and required me to write page after evidence-filled page about how my teaching directly resulted in student growth.

But can I say without a shadow of a doubt that my achievement resulted in continuous improvement, year after year, for my students? Unfortunately, no. I believe I became a better teacher by achieving NBC status, but I don’t know it. Not for sure. Without a clear set of measurements that would prove such a thing, it is almost impossible to claim that NBCs are “better” teachers than their non-NBC counterparts. And what would those measurements be?

There’s a lot of time and effort invested into creating more NBCs in Arizona every year. And each year the newest ones are celebrated. But I say let’s make a claim that goes way beyond the fact that we have the most NBCs. What about those teachers? What about their students? Let’s be bold and say, without a shadow of a doubt, that students who have Nationally Board Certified teachers are better off than those who don’t.

And let’s be able to prove it.


Eve Rifkin

Eve Rifkin

Tucson, Arizona

I have been an educator for over 20 years. As a founding co-director of City High School, I have held a variety of leadership and teaching roles, including academic director, humanities teacher, and principal. I am currently the Director of College Access and support students as they envision their lives after high school.

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