Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading
Instruction : New Jersey

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction : New Jersey results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NJ-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Reading-Instruction--6

Analysis of New Jersey's policies

New Jersey does not require that teacher preparation programs for elementary teacher candidates address the science of reading. The state has neither coursework requirements nor standards related to this critical area. The state also does not require teacher candidates to pass an assessment that measures knowledge of scientifically based reading instruction prior to certification or at any point thereafter.


Recommendations for New Jersey

Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teaching candidates in the science of reading instruction.
New Jersey should ensure that teacher preparation programs adequately prepare elementary teacher candidates in the science of reading by requiring that these programs train candidates in the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
New Jersey should require a rigorous reading assessment tool to ensure that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared in the science of reading instruction before entering the classroom. The assessment should clearly test knowledge and skills related to the science of reading, and if it is combined with an assessment that also tests general pedagogy or elementary content, it should report a subscore for the science of reading specifically. Elementary teachers who do not possess the minimum knowledge in this area should not be eligible for licensure.

State response to our analysis

New Jersey asserted that NCTQ has not defined here what it means by the "science of reading." The state further noted that it requires study in the teaching of language arts/literacy for both traditional and alternate route candidates, and preparation programs must have their programs reviewed through a national accreditation agency, either NCATE or TEAC, as well as through a state program approval process in which the national standards for elementary education from ACEI are used in addition to the requirement of program alignment to core content standards for students. 

New Jersey also contended that for candidates entering the profession through the traditional route, it requires a sequence of courses for the teaching of literacy that is aligned with ACEI standards. Alternate route candidates must complete a minimum of 45 hours of study in the teaching of language arts/literacy. Approved programs must align with the professional teaching standards, which contain subject-matter standards, as well as with the state's core content standards for students. 

Last word

The science of reading, or scientifically based reading instruction, has been well established by decades of research focused on determining how people learn to read and why some struggle. The National Reading Panel concluded that the five essential components of effective reading instruction are explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Unfortunately, neither NCATE's nor ACEI's standards require programs to ensure that teachers are well prepared with the knowledge and skills research has shown to be most effective in teaching young children to read.  

Research rationale

For evidence on what new teachers are not learning about reading instruction, see NCTQ, "What Education Schools Aren't Teaching About Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning" (2006) at:

For problems with existing reading tests, see S. Stotsky, "Why American Students Do Not Learn to Read Very Well: The Unintended Consequences of Title II and Teacher Testing," Third Education Group Review 2 No. 2 (2006); and D. W. Rigden, Report on Licensure Alignment with the Essential Components of Effective Reading Instruction (Washington, D.C.: Reading First Teacher Education Network, 2006) at: 

For information on where states set passing scores on elementary level content tests for teacher licensing across the U.S., see chart on p. 13 of NCTQ "Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Removing the Roadblocks: How Federal Policy Can Cultivate Effective Teachers," (2011).