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USM Ranked 11th in Nation; first in Mississippi in Producing Nationally Certified Teachers in 2019

Wed, 12/18/2019 - 02:22pm | By: Kendra Ablaza

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has ranked The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) 11th in the nation and first in Mississippi in producing new National Board Certified Teachers in 2019 with 997 teachers certified.

This recognition puts USM in the company of top teaching institutions such as Appalachian State University, University of South Carolina, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Florida State University, and University of Washington.

USM was ranked 13th nationally in 2018 with 1,001 teachers certified. This was also the highest ranking of the Mississippi institutions mentioned that year.

National Board Certification gives teachers the opportunity to achieve standards beyond those required by their home state. For the past 25 years, the program has encouraged recognition and retention of high quality teachers and ongoing improvement in schools across the country.

For example, certified teachers are eligible for a $6,000 annual bonus, reimbursement of National Board fees, renewal of a Mississippi teaching license, and professional growth and leadership development, all while remaining in the classroom.

Robin Atwood, a National Board Certified Teacher and director of the World Class Teacher Program at USM which supports teachers as they work toward certification, said National Board Certification is the highest credential in the teaching profession.

“We are thrilled that USM has earned the top spot in the state when it comes to certifying teachers,” Atwood said. “It is not easy to become National Board certified, so knowing that USM alums are doing so well makes us especially proud.”

The World Class Teaching Program at USM has supported teachers pursuing National Board Certification since 1996. The program, built from vetted professional development and leadership practices, has increased many teachers’ chances of attaining certification. The program also receives support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide workshops, face-to-face meetings, and other preparation opportunities at USM.

National certification consists of four components: written assessment of content knowledge, reflection on student work samples, video and analysis of teaching practice, and documented impact and accomplishments as a teaching professional. Board certification is available from pre-K through 12th grade in 25 certificate areas.

“There is a large body of research indicating that students of National Board Certified Teachers have higher test scores and academic achievements,” Atwood said. “In schools with large numbers of National Board Certified Teachers, there is greater collegiality within those schools and more professional collaboration among faculty.”

Trenton E. Gould, dean of USM’s College of Education and Human Sciences, said he appreciates the program that Dr. Atwood has built and considers it a point of pride for USM to be a national leader in producing certified teachers.

“I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to all 997 teachers who earned their national credential this year,” Gould said. “These individuals have experienced tremendous professional growth that will undoubtedly allow them to better serve their students.”

USM was established in 1910 as Mississippi Normal College, with the mission to elevate the preparation of teachers for service in state elementary and secondary schools. For information about USM's teacher education programs and others in the College of Education and Human Sciences, visit