The Five Core Propositions

In 1989, the National Board published What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do, a document that articulated the National Board’s Five Core Propositions for Teaching — comparable to medicine’s Hippocratic Oath — setting forth the profession's vision for accomplished teaching. The Five Core Propositions form the foundation and frame the rich amalgam of knowledge, skills, dispositions and beliefs that characterize National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs). 

All National Board Certificates are based on the Five Core Propositions. All NBCTs in all grade levels and subject areas share their commitment and understanding to these Propositions. Therefore, the Five Core Propositions represent what all accomplished teachers share in their expertise and dedication to advance student achievement. 

Proposition 1: Teachers are committed to students and  their learning. 

  • NBCTs are dedicated to making knowledge accessible to all students. They believe all students can learn.
  • They treat students equitably. They recognize the individual differences that distinguish their students from one another and they take account for these differences in their practice.
  • NBCTs understand how students develop and learn.
  • They respect the cultural and family differences students bring to their classroom.
  • They are concerned with their students' self-concept, their motivation and the effects of learning on peer relationships.
  • NBCTs are also concerned with the development of character and civic responsibility.

Proposition 2: Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students. 

  • NBCTs have mastery over the subject(s) they teach. They have a deep understanding of the history, structure and real-world applications of the subject.
  • They have skill and experience in teaching it, and they are very familiar with the skills gaps and preconceptions students may bring to the subject.
  • They are able to use diverse instructional strategies to teach for understanding.

Proposition 3: Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning. 

  • NBCTs deliver effective instruction. They move fluently through a range of instructional techniques, keeping students motivated, engaged and focused.
  • They know how to engage students to ensure a disciplined learning environment, and how to organize instruction to meet instructional goals.
  • NBCTs know how to assess the progress of individual students as well as the class as a whole.
  • They use multiple methods for measuring student growth and understanding, and they can clearly explain student performance to parents.

Proposition 4: Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience. 

  • NBCTs model what it means to be an educated person – they read, they question, they create and they are willing to try new things.
  • They are familiar with learning theories and instructional strategies and stay abreast of current issues in American education.
  • They critically examine their practice on a regular basis to deepen knowledge, expand their repertoire of skills, and incorporate new findings into their practice.

Proposition 5: Teachers are members of learning communities. 

  • NBCTs collaborate with others to improve student learning.
  • They are leaders and actively know how to seek and build partnerships with community groups and businesses.
  • They work with other professionals on instructional policy, curriculum development and staff development.
  • They can evaluate school progress and the allocation of resources in order to meet state and local education objectives.
  • They know how to work collaboratively with parents to engage them productively in the work of the school.