The Development of a Masters Degree in Science Education Based on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
April Dean Adams,
Monica J. Macklin,
Pamela G. Christol,
This paper describes the rationale, structure and implementation of a Master of Education degree in Science Education that is based on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). This graduate program was developed from the Mathematics and Science Teacher Enhancement Project (MASTEP), a National Science Foundation funded program. Reform based science content courses were developed and field-tested through MASTEP and then were incorporated into the M.Ed. program. The degree was designed for practicing teachers and features both science content and science teaching pedagogy as appropriate for the individual graduate student. One of the program’s capstone projects is a NBPTS portfolio. The perceived benefits and challenges of this new program are also discussed.
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) requires science teacher education programs that are designed for the initial preparation of science to document their compliance with the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Standards for Teacher Preparation (NSTA, 2003). Some master degree programs are for the purpose of initial teacher preparation and would use those standards. However, Northeastern State University (NSU) recently designed a Master of Education in Science Education degree for certified teachers. This degree uses the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) for Early Adolescence Science (NBPTS, 2005a) and for Adolescence and Early Adult Science (NBPTS, 2003b) as the program standards for this degree. The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceived benefits and challenges of using the NBPTS to design and implement a Master of Education degree for certified teachers. The paper will discuss the context and rationale of the program, the perceived benefits and challenges in implementing a program based on these standards, and a discussion of the degree as a model for graduate programs that address the needs of certified teachers.
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
The NBPTS was created in 1987. In their first policy report, “What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do,” (NBPTS, 1987) the board states,
The National Board Mission is to advance the quality of teaching and learning by:
· Maintaining high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do;
· Providing a national voluntary system certifying teachers who meet these standards; and
· Advocating related education reforms to integrate National Board Certification in American education and to capitalize on the expertise of National Board Certified Teachers. (p. 1)
In addition, the report stated the Five Core Propositions on which the standards of each certification are based.
1. Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
2. Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
3. Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
4. Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
5. Teachers are members of learning communities. (p. 3)
In order to be eligible for the certification process, teachers must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, three years of teaching experience, and hold a valid, permanent state teaching license. The certification assessment includes both a portfolio of classroom practice and a written assessment of content knowledge (NBPTS, 2005a).
Higher Education Frameworks
The NBPTS encourage higher education to further the mission of the board by the following means:
Galluzzo (2005) reports that some institutions, including South Carolina State, Graceland University in Iowa, Illinois State University, and George Mason University, have aligned their undergraduate and, or graduate programs to the NBPTS. In addition, he reports that NBCTs are employed by some institutions to enhance teacher preparation programs. Isenberg (2003) reports the efforts of some institutions in detail. Most of the programs use the five propositions as their framework for initial certification and advanced program reform. The preface to this document is by B. Williams, Vice President of Institutional Relations for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). He states that NCATE has been “working in collaboration with the National Board to help institutions modify advanced programs so that they are aligned with NBPTS propositions.” (p. 4) Most of the programs described in this document use the Five Core Propositions as their framework.
There are some
concerns about the certification process on the part of higher education.
Goldhaber, Perry & Anthony (2004) found in a survey of North
Context and Rationale
NSU is a regional
The science education graduate program has many innovative features:
Early Adolescence Science Certificate NBPTS for Teachers of Students Ages 11-15
I. Understanding Students
Accomplished science teachers know how early adolescent learners grow and develop, actively come to know their students as individuals, and draw on this knowledge and their relationships with students to determine the students’ understanding of science as well as their individual learning backgrounds.
II. Knowledge of Science
Accomplished science teachers have a broad and current knowledge of science and science education, along with in-depth knowledge of one of the subfields of science, on which they draw to set appropriate learning goals with their students
III. Instructional Resources
Accomplished science teachers select and adapt instructional resources, including technology, laboratory, and community resources, and create their own resources to support active student explorations of science.
Accomplished science teachers stimulate interest in science and technology and elicit their students’ sustained participation in learning activities.
V. Learning Environment
Accomplished science teachers create safe and supportive learning environments that foster high expectations for the success of all students and in which students experience the values inherent in the practice of science.
VI. Equitable Participation
Accomplished science teachers take steps to ensure that all students, including those from groups that historically have not been encouraged to enter the world of science, participate in the study of science.
VII. Science Inquiry
Accomplished science teachers involve students in inquiries that challenge them and help them construct an understanding of nature and technology.
VIII. Fundamental Understandings
Accomplished science teachers use a variety of instructional strategies to expand students’ understanding of the major ideas of science.
IX. Contexts of Science
Accomplished science teachers create opportunities for students to examine a variety of contexts of science, including its history, reciprocal relationships with technology, ties to mathematics, and impact on society, so students make connections across disciplines of science and into other subjects.
Accomplished science teachers assess student learning through a variety of means that align with stated learning goals.
XI. Family and Community Outreach
Accomplished science teachers proactively work with families and communities to serve the best interests of each student.
XII. Contributing to the Profession
Accomplished science teachers contribute to the quality of their colleagues’ practice, the instructional program of the school, and the work of the larger professional community.
XIII. Reflective Practice
Accomplished science teachers constantly analyze, evaluate, and strengthen their practice in order to improve the quality of their students’ learning experiences. (NBPTS, 2005a, p. 5-6)
Adolescence and Young Adulthood Science NBPTS for Teachers of Students Ages 14-18+
I. Understanding Students
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers know how students learn, know their students as individuals, and determine students’ understandings of science as well as their individual learning backgrounds.
II. Understanding Science
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers have a broad and current knowledge of science and science education, along with in-depth knowledge of one of the subfields of science, which they use to set important appropriate learning goals.
III. Understanding Science Teaching
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers employ a deliberately sequenced variety of research-driven instructional strategies and select, adapt, and create instructional resources to support active student learning.
IV. Engaging the Science Learner
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers spark student interest in science and promote active and sustained learning, so all students achieve meaningful and demonstrate growth toward learning goals.
V. Sustaining a Learning Environment
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers create safe, supportive, and stimulating learning environments that foster high expectations for each student’s successful science learning and in which students experience and incorporate the values inherent in the practice of science.
VI. Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Fairness
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers ensure that all students, including those from groups that have historically not been encouraged to enter the world of science and that experience ongoing barriers, succeed in the study of science and understand the importance and relevance of science.
VII. Fostering Science Inquiry
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers engage students in active exploration to develop the mental operations and habits of mind that are essential to advancing strong content knowledge and scientific literacy.
VIII. Making Connections in Science
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science create opportunities for students to examine the human contexts of science, including its history, reciprocal relationship with technology, ties to mathematics, and impacts on society, so that students make connections across disciplines of science, among other subject areas and their lives.
IX. Assessing for Results
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers employ multiple, ongoing methods that are fair and accurate to analyze the progress of individual students in light of well-defined learning goals, and their students achieve meaningful and demonstrate gains in the learning of science. Teachers clearly communicate these gains to appropriate audiences.
X. Reflecting on Teaching and Learning
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers continually analyze, evaluate, and strengthen their practice to improve the quality of their students’ learning experiences.
XI. Developing Collegiality and Leadership
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers contribute to the quality of the practice of their colleagues, to the instructional program of the school, and to the work of the larger professional community.
XII. Connecting with Families and the Community
Accomplished Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science teachers proactively work with families and communities to serve the best interests of each student. (NBPTS, 2003b, p. 7-8)
When the options
for the capstone experience were discussed, writing a portfolio for National
Board Certification was included because we felt 1) that this process was rigorous
and would demonstrate an acceptable level of teacher proficiency and 2) that
the inclusion of this option would be attractive to teachers.
There were several advantages in choosing the NBPTS as the program standards. First, choosing these standards meant that the program would help prepare teachers for the portfolio for National Board Certification option of the capstone experience. We felt that it would also enable more teachers to be successful in the certification process. Secondly, we hoped that the graduate students would perceive the program as more beneficial to them personally. Finally, the standards seem to be in alignment with NSTA standards and therefore would also promote the goals of the NSES.
Benefits of the Program
Many graduate students are choosing the portfolio for National Board Certification option as the capstone experience and most say that they were initially attracted to the program because of that option. Of the nine students who will be doing their capstone experience in the next two years, five of them have chosen the national board certification option and four of them have chosen an action research project.
Although the program is too young to completely evaluate the effects of using the NBPTS as the standards of the program, the standards do seem to have the following benefits:
Some of the challenges include the following:
The issues discussed in this paper are important to science teacher educators because the program provides a model for master degree programs in science education that are designed for certified teachers. However, as the program progresses, there will most certainly be a need for further refinement.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number ESI-0138680. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Galluzzo, G. R. (2005). Performance assessment and renewing teacher education: The possibilities of the NBPTS standards. Clearing House 78(4), 142-145. (WN: 0506003859002)
Golghaber, D., Perry, D. and Anthony, E. (2004). The national board for professional teaching standards (NBPTS) process: Who applies and what factors are associated with NBPTS certification? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 26(4), 259-280.
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