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American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence

All information on this page, including but not limited to price, cost, instructions, descriptions, and the content of a certification course, is presented for informational purposes only, may be an approximation, is subject to change, and may have been generated by third parties. Prior to enrolling in a course for a certification, please contact the proper school or certification administrators for information regarding certification requirements


Professional Teaching Knowledge Study Plan

This Study Plan comprises the full spectrum of materials and resources available to a candidate. We encourage you to use the recommended resources to target preparation to your needs and goals.

There will be hyperlinks throughout this document. Please make sure that you visit the relevant pages to access all of the resources.

Your commitment to great teaching begins here. Your efforts will not only help you pass the test, but will also prepare you to become a successful teacher.

How to study:

The American Board is committed to making sure you are the best possible teacher.
We will provide you with study tips to get ready for the exam and both the content and resources to review this material. It is your job to commit to preparing and stay dedicated while studying.

Think of the Snapshot below as an overview for what you need to know. For more detail in each topic, review the exam standards ( http://www.American ) . The American Board exams are based on this blueprint, so consider this a syllabus for what you want to study.

About This Exam

The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence believes that highly skilled teachers should possess a comprehensive body of knowledge that is research-based and promotes student achievement. The Professional Teaching Knowledge exam is designed to assess a new teacher’s knowledge of teaching-related criteria. Such knowledge is typically obtained in undergraduate preparation in areas such as human development, classroom management, instructional design and delivery techniques, assessment, and other professional preparation. This exam also contains a writing component that will evaluate a candidate’s ability to write to audiences they will most likely address as a teacher: parents, colleagues, and/or school administrators.

The American Board’s Standards Stepwise Method

The right way to get started: using the Standards as your syllabus
The Standards are your study lifeline; you can find them on your Account page under Courses > Review PTK Course. Throughout the course of your study, you will learn all of them. How to begin? Here is the American Board’s Standards Stepwise method:

  • Approach in bite-sized chunks: don’t be overwhelmed or paralyzed by how many standards there are, simply pick a topic of a domain and get started.
  • Define the terms: take the first three items in the topic and make sure you know all the terms. Look up any you are do not recognize. After all, you cannot answer a question definitively if you don’t even know the terms.
  • Use the appropriate recommended resources to probe deeper if you need better understanding. Use the Standards to target the sections you need to read.
  • Check for understanding and reflect: think about how you would use this in a classroom or how you would teach the subject. Use your quizzes to check for understanding and move on.
  • Wash, rinse, and repeat: once you finish a chunk of three, go back and attack the next three.

Have a Plan

It is important to have a plan of attack to study. Block out set times to study and if you slip and miss a session, restart your plan instead of letting yourself get paralyzed and procrastinate.

PTK Study Areas Broken Down:

  • Instructional Delivery
  • Communicating effectively
  • Presents clear and focused instruction
  • Effective questioning techniques
  • Makes efficient use of learning time
  • Applications
  • Research Strategies


Review the specific PTK standard

    Find the Prepare to Teach Workshop on your Account Page under “Courses” and then PTK “Review Course”
  • The Characteristics of Successful Teachers
  • Characteristics 1 – 8
  • Characteristics 9 – 16
  • VIDEO CASE STUDIES: Characteristics of Successful Teachers (13:57)
  • Pedagogy and Instructional Design
  • How Students Learn
  • Whole Group Strategies Part 1
  • Whole Group Strategies Part 2
  • Small Group Strategies and Individual Instruction
  • Lesson Closure
  • VIDEO CASE STUDIES: Pedagogy and Instructional Design (14:58)




  • Establishing efficient classroom routines
  • Setting clear standards for conduct
  • Providing student feedback & reinforcement
  • Setting expectations for student learning
  • Parental involvement

Review the specific PTK standard

    Find the Prepare to Teach Workshop on your Account Page under “Courses” and then PTK “Review Course”
  • Classroom Management
  • Techniques for Addressing Student Discipline Problems Part I
  • Techniques for Addressing Student Discipline Part II
  • VIDEO CASE STUDIES: Classroom Management (13:50)
  • Nurturing Parental and Community Support
  • Effective Communication with Parents
  • Opening and Maintaining Lines of Communication
  • Building Support in the Community
  • VIDEO CASE STUDIES: Avoiding Parent Conference Pitfalls (12:27)

Web Resources


  • Monitoring student progress
  • Understanding test concepts
  • Assessing high-needs students

Review the specific PTK standard

Find the Prepare to Teach Workshop on your Account Page under “Courses” and then PTK “Review Course”

    Intro to Assessment Part 1
  • What is Assessment?
  • The Purpose of Assessment
  • Summative Assessment
  • Formative Assessment
  • Ipsative Assessment
  • Diagnostic Assessment
    Intro to Assessment Part 2
  • Performance Assessment
  • Criterion-Referenced Assessment
  • Norm-Referenced Assessment
  • Validity
  • Reliability
  • Bias
    Modes of Classroom Assessment
  • Traditional Assessments
  • Non-traditional Assessments
  • Informal Assessments
  • 10 Things to Remember About Assessment



  • Writing measurable objectives
  • Guiding curricular planning
  • Organizing content, concepts, and models
  • Developing illustrative examples
  • Building on students’ prior knowledge

Review the specific PTK standard

    Find the Prepare to Teach Workshop on your Account Page under “Courses” and then PTK “Review Course”
  • Organizing for Instruction
  • Understanding the Curriculum
  • VIDEO CASE STUDIES: Organizing for Instruction (10:18)
    Pedagogy and Instructional Design
  • How Students Learn
  • Whole Group Strategies Part 1
  • Whole Group Strategies Part 2
  • Small Group Strategies and Individual Instruction
  • Lesson Closure
  • VIDEO CASE STUDIES: Pedagogy and Instructional Design (14:58)




The PTK writing component will consist of a prompt which in turn consists of several tasks. It is critical that you address every task to get a passing grade (4 or higher out of 6) on the writing component.

IMPORTANT: Most people believe they can write and often underestimate the writing component of the exam, especially when it is in a letter form. As a result, they often neglect spending the time learning, and then practicing what kind of writing is being asked of them.

IMPORTANT: Scoring is holistic and based on a rubric. Examine the rubric and note what elements are required for a score of 6, and understand the difference between a score of 3 and a score of 4, as that is the pass/fail mark.

IMPORTANT: Excellent writers can have the problem of trying to be too creative in their writing and may miss required tasks in the prompt. Stick to a clean intro, body paragraphs, and conclusion as taught in the 5 paragraph form. Use the sample essays to see how they are constructed. Sample essays can be found in the PTK rubric. You can find the rubric and other resources here: Writing Component Resources

Writing Webinar:

Additional Writing Prompts:

  1. Gracie rose jewelry
  2. Small tent tattoo
  3. Lancaster pull tabs

Wisconsin Public Education Network



A “sponsored ad” has started to pop up on our social media feeds, and we’ve been getting some questions on the validity of a Wisconsin teachers certification program that promises you a license without taking the edTPA. Can this be for real?

It’s for real.

Wisconsin Public Education Network’s Executive Director, Heather DuBois Bourenane, shares her concerns about this new creditial – and where it came from – in the article below originally published in Union Labor News.


Bargain Basement Sale….On Teaching Licenses?


Heather DuBois Bourenane


In case you missed it…

There was a Black Friday deal this year that surprised a lot of people who care about public schools.

An Atlanta-based outfit you probably never heard of, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), was having a doorbuster.

On Wisconsin teaching licenses.

That’s right. For the bargain price of just $1700 ($1600 on Cyber Monday!), you could sign up – online – for an online program that would get you a bona fide teaching credential in the state of Wisconsin in just ten months.Without ever having to set foot in an actual classroom.

No student teaching. No clinical hours in a classroom. No state-mandated certification tests. In fact, the only test you’ll have to take is the one written by the ABCTE.

This chart, compiled by Dr. Tim Slekar, Dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College, details the significant differences between a tradition license path (through an institute of higher education) and the new path (through an online vendor):


Perhaps the most significant difference is that every single institute of higher education has been fully vetted and accredited by the Department of Public Instruction. These institutions are held highly accountable to ensure that educators are prepared to meet the unique needs of our students, and potential teachers are subject to rigorous testing and classroom preparation that ensure only those educators best equipped to enter the classroom are even eligible for a license.

Dr. Slekar worries that “The type of fast track licensing offered by ABCTE should be approached with extreme caution considering that this license is granted without any classroom experience.Imagine hearing that your surgeon had never actually worked in an operating room.Well, you don’t have to when it comes to theABCTE licensed teacher in front of your child.Is this what we want for all of the children in Wisconsin?”

Slekar adds that the problem of fast-tracking teacher licenses is a problem for parents and professional educators alike. “We should all be worried when a “license” factory like ABCTE is given legitimacy in Wisconsin,” he told me. “It is demeaning to all of those hard working and talented teachers that devote a lifetime to be called professional teachers.” And, by extension, it’s demeaning to the students they serve.

Education advocates and teacher education leaders around the state share concerns that a new wave of under-credentialed educators could put our children at a serious disadvantage, and damage Wisconsin’s continuing efforts to deliver a world-class public education to every child.At a time when Wisconsin public schools are facing significant challenges related to teacher shortage and inequitable funding across districts, this “easy path” to licensure could be attractive for would-be educators, and it could be tempting for districts desperate for staff to hire them.

Reid Riggle, co-chair of the teacher education program at St. Norbert College and president of the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, shared his concerns with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“What’s going to happen is people who are underprepared will get hired in schools specifically where there are shortages,” Riggle said. “Those are often the schools with the highest needs — MPS, Racine, Beloit, a lot of rural schools where they can’t hire anybody,” he said.

“And it’s going to take what is already a significant equity gap in our state (between poor and minority students and their white and affluent peers) and make it worse.”

How did Wisconsin, a state with a national reputation for rigorous teacher training and licensing requirements, allow this? Why didn’t people speak up against it?

The answer to this one is more disturbing that the Black Friday sale.

The measure was slipped into the budget at the final hour without public comment, and passed by the Joint Finance Committee. While DPI, WEAC, and others tried to sound the bell, the public was largely unaware and the provision was included in the final budget passed by both houses and signed into law by the governor.

But how did it get into the budget in the first place?

We don’t really know. There was no buzz about the measure during a long and contentious budget process where public education was the number one issue at every public hearing. There was never a stand-alone bill on the measure. And it’s hard to follow the trail of who behind the scenes was in favor of the changes. But we do know that one company that stands to benefit from the change has been lobbying Republican legislators for several years, trying to get into Wisconsin. That company? You guessed it: American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence.

The good news is that while DPI is now mandated to give them a license, no district is required to hire the under qualified individuals certified through ABCTE or other online teaching outfits that are now eligible to offer teacher training in Wisconsin.

If there’s one place Wisconsin public schools don’t need to be looking for a bargain, it’s in preparing the educators we trust to meet the needs of our children every day. Our students deserve the best, and we trust Wisconsin school districts will look carefully at applicants and set a high bar for excellence when making hiring decisions.

But buyer beware: if you’re looking for a teaching job in Wisconsin, you’re going to get what you pay for. And don’t be surprised if the 10-month training program you thought was such a steal on Black Friday turns out to have looked better in the ad than it did once you tried it on.

There are no refunds, and no re-dos, on a public education. Let’s make smart choices on how we educate our children, Wisconsin. And let’s start holding lawmakers accountable for doing the same.

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The NPR Ed Mailbag: Alternative Teacher Certification

Last week I reported about Indiana's newest teaching license. Called a "career specialist" license, it allows anyone with a B.A., a B average, and three years of related work experience to become a middle or high school teacher just by passing a content test.

Overall, 1 in 5 teachers now enters the profession through nontraditional means — meaning other than by studying education in a four-year or master's program.

This story definitely got people talking. Opinion was narrowly divided, although almost everyone agreed with the last quote in the post — that traditional teacher preparation has its problems.

Against Alternatives

One commenter, "Public Doormat," felt that alternative preparation sets the bar too low. And he or she spoke from experience.

"We are moving in the wrong direction! RAISE the requirements for teaching; don't lower them! Teaching is a DOUBLE professional occupation — you need both content and pedagogical expertise. Teacher education needs to be MORE rigorous, not less, in order to professionalize this occupation.

"I did a one-year licensing program. It was not enough. I knew the content better than the teachers I worked around, but all the teacher tricks, the organizational skills, the resources, the behavior-management tricks, etc.? I could have used far more expertise in those areas."

While many alternative programs, including Indiana's, focus on bringing people with content expertise into the classroom, some readers felt that this was misguided.

"There is so much more to teaching than content," wrote Wendy Dotan.

"First-year teachers need guidance and support from other effective educators. They need practical strategies to reach a variety of students. They need organization skills to put systems in place to maximize the allotted time for learning and for applying the knowledge gained. Oh, and let's not forget they also need to be able to teach digital citizenship and how to engage in civil dialogue so that they may take civic action to engage with their communities to bring about positive change. I say a 'sprinkling' of pedagogical theory along with literacy strategies is quite enough for the classroom teacher in the trenches."

Lynn Howard agreed, "as a former student, a former university teacher, and a former trainer of Teaching Assistants, I have found that content mastery doesn't necessarily confer an ability to teach."

In Favor Of Options

Those who spoke in favor of alternative certification noted that not all programs should be tarred with the same brush. One teacher, Chazz Robinson, defended the quality of his own alt-cert prep program.

"As you say, there are strong and weak programs. I too earned teaching certification through an alternative program. It was run by the large urban district I work in and a local college. The coursework included standard educational curricula but geared toward our ultimate environment — an urban classroom. My classmates and I came into the program with the requisite content knowledge, gaining the pedagogical knowledge through it. As for the 'selectiveness,' I recall ~100 people during the interview day for a cohort of 15."

Perhaps surprisingly, a couple of self-identified traditionally certified teachers spoke out in favor of more paths to the profession. April Campagnoli Barlett said, "I am a teacher with a degree in education and think alternative routes to the classroom can benefit students. High quality instruction is (basically) a balance of knowing cool stuff and sharing that stuff with enthusiasm and joy." She added that after 11 years in the classroom, experience counts a lot more than what she learned back in college.

"Jim D," also a teacher with an education degree, said, "We need as many good, knowledgeable teachers as we can get."

What Does The Research Say?

My original post cited one 2005 research study, on the impact of alternatively certified teachers in the classroom, and a review of programs by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which gave many alt-cert programs low marks.

There are other studies on the topic, as commenters pointed out. One linked to a study in 2014 by Tim Sass at Georgia State University, which also contains a detailed review of previous research. The preponderance of evidence shows that, on the one hand, making it easier to enter teaching can attract higher achievers into the profession, which in turn has a positive impact on student performance. The greatest positive effects come in middle and high school math classes.

On the other hand, teachers certified through nontraditional means have higher turnover, which is too bad because teachers tend to get better over time. Also, program design matters a lot: In Sass' study, students prepared at blended programs housed at community colleges did worse than traditional teachers, while those who went through a rigorous route called ABCTE (certified by the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence) did much better.

Diversity Is Key

An important dimension to the conversation surfaced on Twitter (see sidebar), involving alternative certification and diversity in the teacher workforce.

The U.S. Department of Education reports that people enrolled in nontraditional programs are slightly more likely to be male and much more likely to be nonwhite. In the "most alternative" programs, enrollment is 54 percent white and 46 percent minority, while traditional university-based programs are 69 percent white.

Christina Torres, an English teacher in Hawaii who is a Teach for America alum, pointed out in a series of tweets that some people who could be valuable to the profession can't necessarily afford years of education; they need to work right away.

Her comments were echoed by Melinda D. Anderson, an education writer, and Jose Vilson, a teacher and author of the book This Is Not a Test.

Thanks to all of you for your diversity of opinions and willingness to keep the conversation going!



Frequently Asked Questions

About the Program

Do you have a campus or classes?

No. The American Board certification is self-paced and self-guided. We provide you with the study materials, you study and take practice tests to determine if you are ready for your two final exams. You can study at home, at your local library, or wherever is most comfortable for you.

Where are you located?

The American Board’s main office is located in Atlanta, Georgia with a satellite office in Burtonsville, Maryland.

How long does it take to complete the program?

Candidates have 1 year to complete the program. If a student fails to complete the program in that time and would like to extend their program, they can do so for $389 per 6-month extension.

The average American Board student takes 7-10 months to earn their certification. However, we have had students complete the program in 2 months. It all depends on how much time you can devote to studying and learning the material.

Can I work while I’m enrolled with the American Board?

Of course! The main reason why students enroll with us rather than going back to school for their Master’s degree is the flexibility we offer. The program is self-paced, meaning you can study after work or on the weekends.

When can I begin the program?

Whenever you want! You have 1 year to complete the program after enrolling. This means if you enroll on June 30, 2017, you will have until June 30, 2018 to earn your certification without paying for an extension.

As the program is self-paced, you get to choose when to begin the program. There is no class or semester to wait for to begin studying.

Why is your program offered in some states and not others?

Each state has their own laws and regulations when it comes to alternative teaching certification. The American Board works closely with state education departments and legislators to ensure we meet all state requirements to produce quality educators. This is a long process (up to 2 years in some cases) and we have not made it to every state yet.

Can I use a certification from the American Board to teach in a state your program is not offered in?

Only if you teach in a private school. It also depends on the private school’s requirements to teach.

For more information on teaching in a private school, click here.

Can I use a certification from the American Board to teach abroad?

Yes. Many schools abroad accept the American Board teacher certification. We highly suggest you contact the school you would like to teach at before you enroll to be sure our program is accepted with that school.

For more information on teaching internationally, click here.

What is the difference between the Standard and Premium programs?

In certain subjects, the American Board offers two certification programs: Standard and Premium. The Standard program provides students with the information they need to learn and pass the subject area exam and the Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) exam.

The Premium program provides students with everything included with the Standard program, along with additional study materials and practice tests. The Premium program also includes a job counseling webinar and workbook to assist our students with job hunting.

Can I certify in two subjects at once?

Absolutely! You can certify in more than one subject without having to take the Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) exam multiple times. Each additional subject certification after your original subject costs $850.

For one-time payments, simply add one subject certification to your cart, then add your second subject to the cart and check out. For installment plans, please call 1-877-669-2228 for assistance. Do not enroll online if you plan to use an installment payment plan.

Are you affiliated with, Vantage Online Store, or any other website?

NO! The only websites associated with the American Board are,,, and our social media profiles.

Any other websites that claim to have practice materials for our exams are not affiliated with the American Board. We therefore cannot recommend or review those products.

If you have a question on whether a product or service is affiliated with our program, give us a call at 1-877-669-2228 for assistance.

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How Do I Pay?

Our exams are conducted atPearson VUE testing centers. Pearson VUE has testing centers across the country and around the world. Students will test at the testing center that is most convenient to them.

The exams will be conducted on the computer. Our students must pass the following exams to earn their certification:

1. The Professional Teaching Knowledge (PTK) Exam. This exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions and a writing component. We suggest you take this exam before your subject area exam, as the writing component is hand-graded, delaying test score results by 4-6 weeks.

2. Subject Area Exam. This exam consists of multiple choice questions pertaining to the subject area of your choice. Test score results are available immediately after the exam is complete, unless you test in English Language Arts (ELA). The ELA exam has a writing component that is hand-graded, delaying test score results by 4-6 weeks.



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You Can’t Trust Alternative Teaching Programs

The flim-flam report National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ) just reared its ugly head again. Those who follow education news know the report is bogus. Many bloggers have been justly slamming the report.

You only need to look at the NCTQ Advisory Board and Board of Directors to understand what they are up to. Most of them have been anti-public school and anti-professional teachers for years.

I mean Wendy Kopp from Teach for America is judging university ed schools? Go on!

So I would like to get a little slam in myself about the NCTQ’s past love affair with the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE). This is an online group to make teachers. It was started by Ed Secretary Rod Paige from the more recent Bush administration.

If you don’t remember Rod Paige, let me refresh your memory. He was a one termer who likened the teachers union to terrorists not long after 9-11.

If you think of teachers as terrorists, as Paige (and probably other reformers) did (and maybe still do), I guess it becomes imperative that you come up with a plan to destroy the ed schools in the universities, who are professionally preparing the teachers, and that is just what Rod Paige attempted to do.

One of the ways he would accomplish this goal was to develop a new way of making teachers. The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence or ABCTE for short was just the ticket.

If you have time to read up on Mr. Paige, please do. He helped bring us No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and was around earlier during the Texas education miracle. Remember that humdinger? Student test scores rose higher than ever before, but later everyone learned the success was rigged. And NCLB was based on…the Texas education miracle.

I think it is important to sometimes go back in time and remember the players and how we got to where we are today when it comes to America’s public schools.  And ABCTE is one of those early programs we should revisit.

Paige was followed by everyone’s favorite substitute teacher Margaret Spellings who overshadows Arne Duncan in the teaching experience department. Spellings, as you may recall, likened NCLB to Ivory Soap…it was in her mind “99.9 pure or something.” They both signed on to ABCTE.

ABCTE allows you to go online to become a teacher and get credentialed. You can do it fast and you can do it cheap! They actually brag that the whole kit and caboodle to earn your degree costs less than the cost of one real college class!

Think how politicians and higher-ed leaders do little to bring down the costs of a traditional college education, but they allow cheap programs like ABCTE to flourish.

And they’ve got deals! Why just this past Father’s Day dads were offered a discount! I think the total price was $1700 instead of the usual $1995. If you missed it don’t worry. The Fourth of July is right around the corner. Maybe they will have another bargain!

ABCTE likes to flaunt it. They say: “The American Board offers one of the most flexible and affordable ways to earn your teaching certification. We offer an online, independent study program that will allow you to prepare to teach at your own pace and without the costs of returning to school. American Board candidates take an average of 10 months from enrollment to certification, and many continue working full time jobs while preparing!”

Did I mention, they do special education too?

And you tell me. How does a workbook and occasional mentoring provide the best professional training you can find for teachers who will one day work with students?

But all is not well for ABCTE. Despite a glowing 2012 blog post on the NCTQ website,  the recent ABCTE results were pretty bad even in the NCTQ report. Here are the grades:

Idaho D

Missouri D

Mississippi C

Pennsylvania D

South Carolina D

Will ABCTE cease to be? Will the free market world of alternative teacher prep push ABCTE out the door? Or will they make excuses and forgive and forget?

The United States Department of Education signed on to the ABCTE, and it uses it, programs like it, and the NCTQ to unfairly damn real education programs in America’s universities.

The NCTQ may be having relationship strife with ABCTE but to be sure, they love all their other alternative programs, like Teach for America. Why, they don’t even see any conflict of interest there with Kopp on the Advisory Board!

That’s too bad for America’s students. The fact that many states embrace this and other unregulated online programs is troubling. How many well-meaning individuals spend money to become teachers, never get the appropriate preparation, and are teaching today? How many tax dollars are going to these programs?  ABCTE has a scholarship program. Who’s paying for it?

It is a very sad example of the de-regulation of what used to be a great profession.

I don’t believe there is one credible study that adequately justifies getting rid of ed. schools in universities for faster prep programs totally online.

Instead, we should be flooding these schools with resources to improve legitimate research and good professional teaching practices. America’s children deserve an honest and real professional teaching workforce.

NCTQ may or may not be breaking up with ABCTE, but everyone should wonder who the new teachers are and where they came from when school starts this fall.

The American Board is dedicated to preparing, certifying, and supporting individuals who want to improve their communities by becoming a teacher. – See more at:


The American Board offers one of the most flexible and affordable ways to earn your teaching certification. We offer an online, independent study program that will allow you to prepare to teach at your own pace and without the costs of returning to school. American Board candidates take an average of 10 months from enrollment to certification, and many continue working full time jobs while preparing! – See more at:
The American Board offers one of the most flexible and affordable ways to earn your teaching certification. We offer an online, independent study program that will allow you to prepare to teach at your own pace and without the costs of returning to school. American Board candidates take an average of 10 months from enrollment to certification, and many continue working full time jobs while preparing! – See more at:





Filed Under: FeaturedTagged With: American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Teacher Preparation


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