Component 4 of National Boards: Assessment and Growth

image outlining component 4

How does a teacher know if they are effective in the classroom? Component 4 of National Board Certification allows teachers to show off their effectiveness in the classroom through assessment practices and professional growth.

This is Part 5 of a 5 part series* on National Board Certification in Early Adolescence and Young Adult Science. This post will focus on Component 4: Effective and Reflective Practitioner (Component 4 Portfolio Guidelines and Science Standards are linked in the citations below). Component 4 is 15% of your overall National Board score (Figure 1). It involves identifying an area where your students need to grow and an area where you need to grow professionally. Over the course of a unit, you will collect evidence about your students from various stakeholders as well as formative, summative, and self-assessments to provide clear, convincing, and consistent evidence of growth in your identified areas of student and professional need. As you obtain evidence of student growth through assessments, you will show how you make adjustments to your lessons, goals, and supports and help students apply feedback to maximize growth. In a nutshell, you are showing off how you know where your students are at, where you want them to go, and how you get them there through the use of assessments, lesson adjustments, professional development, collaborations, and leadership.


Figure 1: Score Percentages by Component


If the last paragraph got your heart racing, do not worry - you are not alone! This component is often called “The Kitchen Sink” as it combines many different teaching objectives together into one portfolio. This component forced me to think outside-the-box to help my students grow. In turn, I grew as a professional in how I collect student data, facilitate student self-assessment, and find professional development opportunities.


Data from Multiple Sources

In the Component 4 portfolio, you will be asked to collect a plethora of data on your students. Before completing my National Boards, I had one way of getting to know my students at the beginning of the course - a student survey. It worked. It was fine. Then along came Component 4 and I had to show how I collected evidence from multiple sources and stakeholders. I upped my game by collecting standardized test and pre-test test data and also surveyed families, colleagues, coaches, and counselors. Since many of my students were interested in manufacturing careers, I even surveyed local manufacturing businesses about skill-sets they were looking for in graduates. I looked for bias, errors, and ranked based on importance and relevance. I found surveying families about their child’s past experiences, future plans, and strengths and challenges to be enlightening. Sometimes the student and family survey aligned nicely, but more often than not, the family survey gave me more insight into what my students needed than the other surveys. Looking back, it makes sense. Parents, guardians, and caregivers often know the student the longest and are their biggest cheerleaders. The family survey initiated a positive two-way communication between school and home within the first few weeks of school. It was a great addition to my toolbox and I have National Boards to thank for the motivation to try something new.



Another great addition to my toolbox, thanks to National Board, is self-assessment. Submitting samples of student self-assessment was required for the Component 4 portfolio. This is something I did not do in class previously because I felt it was too touchy-feely and took time away from instruction. After utilizing student self-assessment in class, I found it to be powerful. I tried out many different methods of self-assessment. I had students reflect on their strengths and challenges after taking a formative assessment. I had students reflect and determine a game-plan to improve their understanding of a learning target, often allowing students to choose what their next assignment was based on their self-assessment. I had students compare their answers with a sample answer and reflect on their progress. I also had students reflect on group dynamics during collaborative activities. Some students are naturally reflective of their learning and reap the benefits of reflecting. Other students, especially those struggling with content, do not take the time to reflect on their understanding and progress. Through consistent use of these self-assessments, I found my classes were more motivated and driven to succeed. More students were aware of what they understood and what they needed help with. They were more aware of what to do about it as well. Educational research from elementary to college levels supports the use of self-assessment and student reflection in classes. Not only did the student self-assessments help my students apply feedback to their learning, but it also helped me, their teacher, get evidence of growth in a learning objective and determine the next steps in helping them grow. I am now a believer in self-assessment!


Professional Growth

In this component, you need to provide evidence of how your professional growth and leadership had an impact on the growth of your students. Having just had a baby when I was completing this component of my National Boards, I stepped away from many of my leadership positions and did not attend or present at the state or national conferences so I could spend more time with family. I was nervous I would not be able to show the leadership needed to get a good score on this component. Do not worry - the National Board values leadership within your school and district just as much as at the state and national levels. It is more important that your leadership causes growth in your identified student area of need than the level to which your leadership occurs. Professional development opportunities are all around you. Think outside the box for professional development if you are unable to attend a traditional conference. Free AACT webinars, ChemEd X blogs, #chemed Twitter, Facebook chemistry educator groups can all count as professional development if you have evidence it helped your students or you grew in an area of need. You can also think outside the box for professional leadership as well. Community collaborations, district committees, sharing of ideas with colleagues, discussions with school or political leaders in which you successfully advocate for your student’s needs or elicit widespread change to help improve the learning of a larger group of students can all count. Put yourself out there in your school or district. Ask if you could join the committee, present an idea, or request a meeting to get the ball rolling. You do not need to be president of your state’s science teacher organization to score well. Does your school lack essential laboratory equipment and it is preventing your students from understanding a science concept? You could organize your science department and help get community donors to fund new lab equipment for your school so your tactile students can see a science concept first-hand. This is a great hypothetical example of teacher leadership directly relating to student growth.

Just like with the other components of National Board certification, I underwent growth as an educator. While this component might feel scattered to some, it really comes down to how you use assessment and professional leadership to track and maximize student growth. What do your students need? How do you know? What are you going to do to help their needs to maximize their growth? Good luck with your Component 4 journey! You got this!  

What are your favorite ways to collect data, assess, or advocate for your students?  Join the conversation by commenting below. Log in or sign up for a free ChemEd X account today!


*Read the other parts of the series here:



  1. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Science Adolescent and Young Adulthood Component 4 Portfolio Instructions and Rubric, , Pearson, 2017 (accessed 1/12/20) 

  2. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Science Standards, ,  (accessed 1/12/20)




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Comments 4

Scott Balicki's picture
Scott Balicki | Wed, 01/22/2020 - 10:56

Congratulations on achieving your National Board Certification!  I really appreciated reading about your "hero's journey" towards certification, especially since the process has changed so much since I went through the process myself in 2012-2013.  Reading your blog posts has helped clarify what has changed, and what has stayed the same since then.  

Melissa Hemling's picture
Melissa Hemling | Wed, 01/22/2020 - 20:44

Thanks for the kind words Scott!  Congratulations on being National Board certified as well!  Have you recently renewed it?  I will have to in a few years and would love to hear how the renewal process is!  Cheers!

Kimberly Dickson | Mon, 04/13/2020 - 13:39

Melissa ~

Thank you SO much for posting this informative blog about your experience(s) during this mind boggling process. I am at the point where I'm finalizing all of my components to submit - terrifying! I've got the commentary written (whew!), but am struggling to decide which pieces to include as my 'evidence' for professsional and student need - we are only allowed 2 pages for each of these parts. Any suggestions would be MUCH appreciated!

Melissa Hemling's picture
Melissa Hemling | Mon, 04/13/2020 - 19:49

I am so glad these National Board posts are helping you!  I used screenshots of emails, data from Google Form responses, pictures, screenshots of student videos, and images of certificates earned. I copied and pasted everything with captions on my two pages.  The evidence you use will depend on the needs you identified.  I would suggest thinking about how you can capture evidence that you can reference in your written commentary.  It sounds like you have the written commentary done, so think about what examples you can cite to prove that you met all the requirements. Screenshots were my friend - they may be your friend as well. Your device might have a snipping tool built-in. On Chromebooks, it is the "Ctrl" + "window switcher" (box with two lines) key.  I also used Jing to snip things as well on a Windows device.

Good luck!  You got this!