UC Berkeley assistant professor Travis Bristol elected board chair of the NBPTS

Photo of Professor Travis J. Bristol
Jackie Ricciardi/Courtesy

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Travis Bristol, assistant professor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education, has been elected as the board chair of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, or NBPTS.

Bristol will begin leading the NBPTS on Nov. 1. Their mission is to advance student learning by providing frameworks and programs that foster excellence in teaching, according to the NBPTS website.

Founded in 1987, the NBPTS works to support accomplished teaching across the country. By certifying expert teachers, the NBPTS helps to maintain a high level of excellence in the teaching workforce, the website notes.

As an independent and nonprofit organization, the board began its mission after a 1983 report outlined a wave of “mediocrity” sweeping the nation in terms of education. Bristol noted he plans to work with the NBPTS in its mission of ensuring excellent education nationwide.

“I feel absolutely honored to be selected to be the chair of what is seen as the gold standard for teacher certification in the United States,” Bristol said. “I intend to bring my expertise in how you prepare and support teachers and my expertise in studying the conditions that are necessary to make teachers successful.”

Bristol noted his experience on campus will help him in his board chair position. Bristol previously worked with Joy Esboldt, doctoral student in the campus Graduate School of Education, to co-publish an article in the Harvard Educational Review

In their piece, Bristol and Esboldt examined the conditions that made it challenging for teachers to obtain national board certification, according to Bristol.

“That experience working with Berkeley doctoral students will no doubt continue to inform my role as a researcher,” Bristol said.

Alan Schoenfeld, campus professor of education and affiliated professor of mathematics, noted the importance of Bristol’s position as NBPTS board chair.

Schoenfeld said in an email the NBPTS certifies the highest standard of teaching. He also emphasized the importance of Bristol’s contribution to the recruitment and retention of Black, male teachers.

As the first Black person to be elected as board chair of the NBPTS, Bristol said he hopes to create an impact in not only suburban areas, but in urban districts as well.

“Only 3% of U.S. public school teachers are national board teachers and the majority of those teachers are white and they are primarily concentrated in suburban school districts,” Bristol said. “As someone who cares deeply about improving learning in urban spaces, I also see my role as calling more attention and awareness to the national board.”

In the context of his position, Bristol said he aims to open up opportunities for educators in the Bay Area.

According to Bristol, this goal will ideally be done in collaboration with UC Berkeley.

“My hope is that here at Berkeley, one of our nation’s flagship institutions, we will be a site where teachers from across the state, particularly the East Bay, can come to pursue national board certification,” Bristol said.

Contact Philippe Jin at [email protected].