The number of South Carolina educators earning their profession's highest credential dropped in 2013, but South Carolina still ranks as a national leader for its total number of National Board Certified Teachers.

A total of 230 teachers earned the certification in 2013, which is down from 291 doing so the previous year, according to figures released by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement in Rock Hill. That figure appears to be on a downward trend, with the state setting a near record in 2009 with 798 teachers earning the certification.

South Carolina ranks third nationally with 8,663 teachers having earned the certification. North Carolina leads the nation with a total of 20,122, followed by Florida.

Teachers seeking National Board Certification undertake a two-part process that takes up to three years to complete. The process requires teachers to reflect on their classroom practices, assess their understanding of subject material and examine their preparation techniques.

They must submit a portfolio with videotapes of classroom teaching, lesson plans, student work samples and reflective essays, and teachers must take assessments based on content knowledge to prove they have mastered the subjects they teach.