American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence

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The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, often referred to as the American Board, was launched with a $5 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2001.[1] The non-partisan, non-profit organization's mission is to certify subject experts, experienced professionals, career changers and military veterans as teachers and was endorsed by U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige.[1] Shawn Arévalo McCollough serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer.[2]

The online, alternative teaching certification program is approved in Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah,[3] and was launched in Arizona as the Arizona Center for Teacher Preparation in 2013.[4] Arizona Governor Jan Brewer endorsed the program,[5] which addresses the shortage of math and science teachers in the state.[6]


The American Board is dedicated to preparing, certifying, and supporting individuals who want to improve their communities by becoming a teacher. The training and certification program is designed to inspire career changers to become a teacher and give them a rigorous and efficient process to achieve their goals.[7]

How it works[edit]

A bachelor's degree is required for acceptance into the American Board teaching certification program, and participants must pass a background check. Candidates enrolled in the program must demonstrate mastery on rigorous examinations that cover both Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) and subject area knowledge. The program is online,[8] giving candidates the flexibility to work towards earning their certification on their own time, with the average candidate taking 8 to 10 months to complete the program.

Acceptance of Certifications[edit]

American Board certification is recognized in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. Many charter and private schools nationwide also recognize the certification. Certification areas are elementary education, English, mathematics, general science, biology, physics, chemistry, U.S. history, world history and special education.[3] Availability of certification areas and requirements vary by state.


The American Board was founded in 2001 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.[1] Developed on the foundation that highly trained and skilled professionals should have the opportunity to pursue a career in teaching, the American Board was created with a mission to give qualified individuals the ability to obtain teacher certification through a flexible and affordable route.

The first state to accept the American Board certification for its public schools was Pennsylvania, when the State Board of Education adopted it in November 2002.[9] An early study of the American Board teacher certification by Mathematica Policy Research found the program to be enrolling and screening increasing numbers of candidates with the average age of nearly 40,suggesting candidates are primarily career changers with more work experience than other entry-level teachers. Most candidates were able to find teaching positions shortly after receipt of certification.[10]

In October 2003, U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige announced the American Board would receive a $35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for its continued development of a fast-track route into the teaching profession.[11]

The Idaho State Board of Education approved the American Board program as a route to a full teacher license in November 2003. Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne said should he decide to become a teacher after politics, he would use the American Board program to become a certified teacher.[12]

The Florida State Board of Education approved the American Board program in June 2004. Florida Governor Jeb Bush was a supporter,[13] and President George H.W. Bush received his teacher certification through an alternative program.[14]

The Utah House Standing Committee introduced HB0110 and, although it did not pass, the American Board program was approved in November 2004 by the Utah State Board of Education.[15]

In December 2004, the New Hampshire Commissioner of Education approved the American Board program.[16]

The Mississippi Professional Standards Board approved the program in July 2006. Governor Haley Barbour said, "In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi faces years of recovery and rebuilding. To ensure that we accomplish our goals, Mississippi communities are working together to improve our schools so that every child in Mississippi has an opportunity to succeed. First and foremost, we must recruit the very best teachers for our students."[17]

In 2006, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted alternative certification as a pathway to teaching and cited the American Board.[18]

South Carolina House Bill 3476 was signed into law on June 13, 2007, accepting American Board certification. Governor Mark Sanford said the program would "make a real impact in getting more qualified teachers in our classrooms, and we're pleased to welcome this program to our state."[19]

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed Senate Bill 1066 on May 1, 2008 allowing American Board certificate holders to practice there. The Governor said, "Under the old system, Bill Gates couldn’t teach a class in computer software in a Missouri high school. This bill allows experienced professionals to become certified teachers.”[20]

The Oklahoma House passed Senate Bill 582 with a unanimous vote of 99 to zero in April 2009, and it was soon signed into law, making Oklahoma the ninth American Board state.

In July 2009, the American Board announced that the organization's initial grant had drawn to a close and it had reached a financial position that will allow the organization to continue to operate without requesting an extension of these government funds.

The Arizona Center for Teacher Preparation was launched in 2013.[6] Arizona Governor Jan Brewer endorsed the program,[5] which addresses the shortage of math and science teachers in the state.[21]


The Teach & Inspire Scholarship program recruited, certified, and supported highly effective new teachers of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds in high-need schools, districts, and subject areas. Participants were awarded a scholarship to earn teacher certification through the American Board’s program. Teach & Inspire was funded by a 4-year U.S. Department of Education Transition to Teaching grant. The program closed to new applicants in October 2010. By May 2012, the Teach & Inspire Scholarship Program had certified 121 participants, and the program continues to assist recipients through the program.

In July 2013, the American Board offered $1,000 scholarships to career-changing professionals for participation in the new AZ TeacherPrep program,[21] and announced veterans, as well as their spouses and beneficiaries, were able to use the post-911 benefits to enroll in the teacher preparation programs.[22] Clark Sage, a 10-year Navy veteran and U.S. Naval Academy alumnus, said he “chose to serve his country again as a math teacher at Hughesville High School in Pennsylvania. ‘Interacting with the students and watching them grow, learn and grasp new concepts is an amazing and indescribable joy of my job.’"[22]


  1. ^ a b c Archibald, George, "Paige backs reform in certification of teachers, Washington Times (March 19, 2003)
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ AZ TV7,
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ “An Evaluation of American Board Teacher Certification: Progress and Plans” Mathematica Policy Research (May 3, 2006)
  11. ^ Blair, Julie. “Ed. Dept. Gives $35 Million To Teacher-Credential Board” Education Week (October 1, 2003)
  12. ^ “Teacher Test Draws Praise and Complaints The Spokesman Review (March 3, 2004)
  13. ^ Hawkins, Beth. “Jeb Bush touts Florida school reforms to Capitol's supportive GOP, skeptical DFL” Minn Post (April 26, 2011)
  14. ^ “George Bush Sr. Received an Alternative Teaching Certificate” Education News (July 23, 1992)
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ “Barbour Celebrates Launch of Teacher Certification Program” The Neshoba Democrat (August 30, 2006)
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ “A Victory for Certification” Show Me Daily (May 5, 2008)
  21. ^ a b Gonzales, Angela “"Center for teacher preparation offering $1000 scholarships for wannabe teachers"” Phoenix Business Journal (June 27, 2013)
  22. ^ a b “Veterans Make a Difference with Future Generations through Teaching” The Wall Street Journal (July 3, 2013)

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