Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that new teachers who can teach elementary grades on an early childhood license possess sufficient content knowledge in all core subjects and know the science of reading instruction. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Content Test Requirements: New Jersey's early childhood education teachers are only required to pass the new Praxis II
Early Childhood Education (5025) test. This test does not report
separate subscores in the core content areas of language arts, math, science or
However, the state allows an exemption to candidates who have failed to meet the passing score by five percent if they have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: As a condition of initial licensure, New Jersey does not require its early childhood candidates to pass a reading test addressing all five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction, specifically phonics, vocabulary and comprehension.
Informational Texts: The Early Childhood Education test addresses both the use of informational texts and text complexity. With regard to the incorporation of informational text of increasing complexity, teachers are required to know how to "explain factors that contribute to text complexity (e.g., vocabulary, sentence complexity, images) [and] select appropriate texts for readers at various levels."
Literacy Skills: New Jersey's professional standards require that "the teacher develops and implements supports for learner literacy development across content areas." However, this standard is not adequate to ensure that teachers include literacy skills across the core content areas. New Jersey's early childhood education assessment does not include the incorporation of literacy into all academic subjects.
Struggling Readers: New Jersey's early childhood education assessment does not address the needs of struggling readers.
Praxis Test Requirement www.ets.org New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:9-3; 6A:9B-10.1 NJAC 6A:9B-11.2 New Jersey Professional Teaching Standards http://www.state.nj.us/education/profdev/profstand/teacherstandardscrosswalk.pdf
Require early childhood teacher candidates to pass a subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all subjects.
New Jersey should require all early childhood teacher candidates who teach the elementary grades to pass a content test with separate passing scores for each of the core subject areas, including reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Although the state requires appropriate testing for elementary teachers teaching on an elementary certificate, New Jersey creates a significant loophole by not holding early childhood teachers who teach elementary grades to the same requirements. The state's current practice of allowing teachers up through grade 3 to teach without ever having passed a content test is particularly worrisome and should be amended.
Require all teacher candidates who teach elementary grades to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
New Jersey should require a rigorous reading assessment tool to ensure that its early childhood 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 address all five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. If the test is combined with an assessment that also tests general pedagogy or elementary content, it should report a subscore for the science of reading specifically. Early childhood teachers who do not possess the minimum knowledge in this area should not be eligible for licensure.
Ensure that early childhood teachers are prepared to meet the instructional requirements of college- and career-readiness standards for students.
Incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
To ensure that elementary students are capable of accessing varied information about the world around them, New Jersey should also—either through testing frameworks or teacher standards—include literacy skills and using text to build content knowledge in history/social studies, science, technical subjects and the arts.
Support struggling readers.
New Jersey should articulate more specific requirements ensuring that all candidates who teach elementary grades are prepared to intervene and support students who are struggling. The early elementary grades are an especially important time to address reading deficiencies before students fall behind.
New Jersey stated that candidates for a PreK-3 endorsement, like all other candidates, must pass a basic skills assessment demonstrating levels of reading, writing, and math proficiency. They also must have an academic major or 60 credits of liberal arts coursework to be eligible for certification. Further, the state added that PreK-3 preparation programs must prepare candidates to utilize the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, and therefore the programs cannot be approved without covering content coursework.
2D: Elementary Licensure Deficiencies
Early childhood teachers who teach elementary grades must be ready for the demands of the elementary classroom. Many states have early childhood licenses that include some elementary classroom grades, usually up to grade three. Because teachers with this early childhood license can still teach many elementary grades, they should not be held to a lower bar for subject-matter knowledge than if they held more standard elementary licenses. Given the focus on building students' content knowledge and vocabulary in college- and career-readiness standards, states would put students at risk by not holding all elementary teachers to equivalent standards. That is not to say the license requirements must be identical; there are certainly different focuses in terms of child development and pedagogy. But the idea that content knowledge is only needed by upper-grade elementary teachers is clearly false.
Focus on reading instruction is especially critical for early childhood teachers. Although some states do not ensure that any elementary teachers know the science of how to teach young children to read, in the states where this is a priority, it is inexcusable to hold elementary teachers on an early childhood license to a lower standard. Research is clear that the best defense against reading failure is effective early reading instruction. Therefore, if such licenses are neglecting to meet the needs of the early elementary classroom, of which learning to read is paramount, they are failing to meet one of their most fundamental purposes.