Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science: New

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science: New Jersey results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of New Jersey's policies

New Jersey does not offer certification in general science for secondary teachers.

Although the state offers a physical science certificate, candidates are required to complete either a 30-credit coherent sequence of courses in physics and a minimum of 15 credits in chemistry, or a 30-credit coherent sequence of courses in chemistry and a minimum of 15 credits in physics. They must also pass all of the following Praxis II tests: "Chemistry," "Physics" and "General Science." These requirements ensure adequate content knowledge in both chemistry and physics.

Middle school science teachers in New Jersey are required to teach on an "elementary school with subject matter specialization" endorsement. Candidates must earn an academic major, and those teaching more than one content area must be certified in each additional area, which requires 15 credit hours of study in that subject. They must also pass the Praxis II "Middle School Science" test.


Recommendations for New Jersey

State response to our analysis

New Jersey noted that middle school science can also be taught by teachers holding any P-12 science certificate.

Research rationale

For an examination of how science teacher preparation positively impacts student achievement, see Goldhaber, D., & Brewer, D. (2000). Does teacher certification matter? High school certification status and student achievement, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22, 129-145; Monk, D. (1994). Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement, Economics of Education Review, 12(2):125-145; Rothman, A., (1969). Teacher characteristics and student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 6(4), 340-348.  

See also, NCTQ "The All-Purpose Science Teacher: An Analysis of Loopholes in State Requirements for High School Science Teachers."(2010). 

In addition, research studies have demonstrated the positive impact of teacher content knowledge on student achievement.  For example, see D. Goldhaber, "Everyone's Doing It, But What Does Teacher Testing Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness?" Journal of Human Resources, vol. XLII no.4 (2007).  See also Harris, D., and Sass, T., "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement". Teacher Quality Research (2007). Evidence can also be found in White, Presely, DeAngelis "Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois," Illinois Education Research Council (2008); D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Why Don't Schools and Teachers Seem to Matter? Assessing the impact of Unobservables on Educational Productivity." Journal of Human Resources (1998).