New state regulations that will better prepare New Jersey teachers to serve students, beginning with their first day in front of a classroom, have been supported by NJSBA.

By the time they are fully implemented in 2018-2019, the new requirements call for doubling the period of student teaching for new teachers, from one semester to a full year; and will require novice teachers to pass a commissioner-approved performance assessment. The regulations, which were adopted by the state Department of Education in 2015, will also strengthen alternate route teacher preparation by requiring more pre-service training and clinical experience.

New Jersey districts each year hire approximately 6,500 teachers who are new to the profession. The regulations are designed to provide the strongest possible upfront preparation for them.

“We have an obligation to our students to ensure the quality of the teachers we place in the classroom,” said NJSBA Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod. “That requires us to provide the best possible pre-service training in working with children in the classroom. I know that to be true from my own experience as a student teacher, educator and chief school administrator.”

The proposed changes have been discussed at NJSBA county association meetings. The topic was also the subject of a recent program on NJSBA’s BlogTalk Radio, “Changes Coming to the Student Teaching Process in New Jersey”.

The requirements will:

  • Extend the student teaching requirement from one semester to a full year by the 2018-2019 school year,
  • Require novice teachers to demonstrate their teaching ability by passing a performance assessment approved by the commissioner of education, beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, and
  • Strengthen alternate route preparation by the 2017-2018 school year.

The edTPA has been selected as the performance assessment. The assessment is completed during the clinical component of a teacher preparation program – during student teaching – and measures a teacher candidate’s ability to plan and deliver a lesson, evaluate student learning, and reflect on his or her practice. As part of the performance assessment, teacher candidates must submit a portfolio of lessons they planned; video/audio recordings of a classroom lesson; and samples of student work they have graded. Originated at Stanford University, edTPA was developed, piloted and field-tested with the participation of more than 1,000 educators from 29 states, and more than 430 colleges and universities.

As adopted by the State Board of Education on Aug. 3, 2016, the edTPA is designed to have a gradual implementation in New Jersey as follows:

  • 2016-2017 school year – Optional pilot,
  • 2017-2018 school year – All candidates complete the assessment for certification, but do not need to meet a specific cut score,
  • 2018-2019 school year – Preliminary cut score set at one standard error of measurement below the national recommendation,
  • 2019-2020 school year – Cut score determined by New Jersey standard-setting process.

Further information is available in this Sept. 13 memo from the state Department of Education.