2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education, the necessary foundation for teaching to the Common Core Standards.
Although New Jersey has adopted the Common Core Standards, the state does not ensure that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards.
New Jersey requires candidates to pass the Praxis II general elementary content test, which does not report teacher performance in each subject area, meaning that it is possible to pass the test and still fail some subject areas, especially given the state's low passing score. Further, based on available information on the Praxis II, there is no reason to expect that the current version would be well aligned with the Common Core Standards.
In addition, New Jersey requires that all teacher candidates complete the following: a minimum of 60 credit hours of general education including electives, with "some study" in the areas of the arts, humanities, mathematics, science, technology and the social sciences; a major in one of these areas; a minimum of 90 credits distributed among general education and the academic major; and a sequence of courses "devoted to professional preparation." These are sensible requirements, but they are too ambiguous to guarantee that the courses used to meet them will be relevant to PK-6 teaching.
New Jersey does not require any additional subject-matter coursework for elementary education candidates and only articulates a broad set of standards for programs to apply in preparing elementary candidates.
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:9-3.3, -10.2 Praxis II www.ets.org
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
New Jersey should ensure that its subject-matter test for elementary teacher candidates is well aligned with the Common Core Standards, which represent an effort to significantly raise the standards for the knowledge and skills American students will need for college readiness and global competitiveness.
The state should also require separate passing scores for each content area on the test because without them it is impossible to measure knowledge of individual subjects. Further, to be meaningful, New Jersey should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
New Jersey should either articulate a more specific set of standards or establish more comprehensive coursework requirements that are specifically geared to the areas of knowledge needed by PK-6 teachers. Further, the state should align its requirements for elementary teacher candidates with the Common Core Standards to ensure that candidates will complete coursework relevant to the common topics in elementary grades. An adequate curriculum is likely to require approximately 36 credit hours in the core subject areas of English, science, social studies and fine arts.
Require at least an academic concentration.
New Jersey should ensure that elementary teacher candidates who major in technology are required to choose an area related to instruction in the elementary classroom.
Ensure that arts and sciences faculty teach liberal arts coursework.
Although an education professor is best suited to teach effective methodologies in subject instruction, faculty from the university's college of arts and sciences should provide subject-matter foundation.
New Jersey asserted that it does not accept education school/department or program courses for its content requirements and that liberal arts faculty do, in fact, teach the subject matter required of elementary teachers. Long-standing certification policy—not in code but a logical deduction from the code and never challenged—requires that content courses be taken in the relevant content departments.
New Jersey also contended that all teaching candidates are required to earn 60 general education credits, which ensures a broad liberal arts education and which must be distributed among the arts, humanities, mathematics, science, technology and the social sciences. The purpose of this requirement is "to develop the prospective teacher as a well-rounded, educated person."
The state reiterated that all teacher candidates, including elementary candidates, must also major in one of the following disciplines: the arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, science or technology.