Educator Recruitment, Preparation, and Recognition
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Frequently Asked Questions

Recruitment

Q: What is the Department doing to attract educators to the state of New Jersey?

A: Our focus on recruitment includes analyzing current employment and retention policies and opportunities for improvement across the state. We will develop recommendations for pursuing additional principal pipelines or expanding existing ones, as well as policies that allow and encourage a robust, diverse pool of educators to come to and stay in New Jersey and to continuously improve their practice. We also aim to provide more effective and efficient resources for those hiring educators.

Preparation

Q: What are the Praxis requirements for NJ certification?

A: The Office of Licensure and Certification page lists the current testing requirements, cut scores, and flexibility options: http://www.state.nj.us/education/educators/license/praxis/.

Q: Where can I find a list of CEAS (traditional) and CE (alternate route) educator preparation programs in New Jersey?

A: A list of the current approved CEAS educator preparation programs is posted here, and more information about CE educator preparation is found on the Alternate Route to Certification page. To learn about New Jersey's available certificates and endorsements please visit the Office of Licensure and Certification website.

Q: Does the evaluation system impact cooperating teachers hosting student teachers in the state?

A: If implemented effectively, student teaching experiences in the advent of AchieveNJ should not negatively impact any element of a teacher's evaluation. Additionally, components of the system offer cooperating teachers opportunities to improve evaluation outcomes as a result of working with student teachers. One of the most significant benefits to this collaboration, which remains unchanged, is the positive impact student teachers can have on classroom instruction and student growth. A student teacher becomes an additional team member who can offer added classroom capacity, thus raising the effectiveness of a cooperating teacher. A student teacher can assist with small group instruction, one-on-one assistance, and other team teaching strategies. This extra support may help students better understand the content being taught and better demonstrate that knowledge on a variety of assessments. In addition, student teachers might help increase the score of the cooperating teacher on the "professional responsibility" component of the teacher practice evaluation instrument.

Q: How can educator preparation programs or local education agencies (LEAs) in New Jersey learn more about opportunities to receive support facilitating clinical partnerships?

A: For inquires regarding ways NJDOE can support the facilitation of clinical partnerships, please contact the Office of Recruitment, Preparation and Recognition directly. A representative will be in touch with you upon receipt of your inquiry within 7-10 business days.

Preparation Regulations Adopted in June 2014

On June 4, 2014, the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted regulations to raise the bar for entry into teacher preparation programs and for professional certification. The following FAQ and responses address common concerns from the field about these regulations.

CEAS (Traditional Route) Teacher Preparation

Q: What teacher preparation regulations were adopted by the State Board of Education in June 2014?

A: The New Jersey State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted regulations that affect both CEAS (traditional) and CE (alternate route) educator preparation programs. The regulations include the following changes for CEAS candidates and preparation programs:

  • Minimum GPA for entry into a program raised from an individual candidate's 2.5 to 'cohort average' of 3.0, with no individual below a 2.75, starting with the 2015-2016 academic year;
  • Passage of basic skills assessment required prior to starting coursework in a program for candidates starting teacher preparation in or after the 2015-2016 academic year;
  • Certification GPA raised from 2.75 to 3.0 for candidates graduating on or after September 1, 2016; and
  • Passage of a performance-based assessment required for certification for candidates graduating on or after September 1, 2017 (note: this was originally proposed to be effective as of 2015-16 but delayed due to stakeholder feedback).

The regulations include the following changes for CE candidates and preparation programs:

  • Minimum GPA for certification raised from 2.75 to 3.0 for candidates graduating on or after September 1, 2016; and
  • Passage of basic skills assessment required for certification for candidates applying on or after September 1, 2015.

Each change is discussed in more detail below.

Q: What is the status of these regulations?

A: The regulations were adopted on June 4, 2014 and effective as of July 2014.

Traditional Teacher Preparation

Entry GPA

Q: What are the entry GPA requirements?

A: Starting with the 2015-2016 academic year, the accepted cohort of candidates must have an average GPA of at least 3.0. Each individual within the cohort must have a GPA of at least 2.75.

Q: What is the definition of a 'cohort' and the students that are included in a cohort?

A: An "accepted cohort of candidates" means the group of candidates accepted to start, at the same time, an educator preparation program leading to a State certification.

Q: Does the cohort include both undergraduate and graduate students?

A: Yes, the cohort should include all candidates accepted into all educator preparation programs across a program provider within the academic year.

Q: Can institutions use an advanced degree GPA instead of undergraduate GPA for calculation of the cohort average?

A: Institutions can use their own discretion if they choose to accept an individual's GPA from a completed advanced degree.

Q: Can institutions use non-degree coursework in calculating the cohort average?

A: No.

Q: What percent of the cohort can fall below the 3.0 GPA? What percent have to meet the 3.0 GPA?

A: There is no specific percentage of the cohort whose GPA can fall below a 3.0, though no individual candidate may fall below a 2.75. Instead, institutions must ensure that their overall admitted cohort average is at least a 3.0.

Basic Skills Assessment

Q: What are the requirements for passing a Basic Skills Assessment?

A: For acceptance into an educator preparation program, a candidate must pass a 'Commissioner-approved test of basic reading, writing, mathematics skills.' A candidate will have met this requirement if he or she has completed and passed all sections of either the Praxis Pre-Professional Skills Test (Praxis I) or the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Praxis Core).  Currently, only the Praxis Core Academic Skills Test (Praxis Core) is offered by the testing company; the Praxis Pre-Professional Skills Test (Praxis I) has been discontinued.

Q: By when must programs require passage of a basic skills assessment?

A: A program must require any candidate starting a teacher preparation program during or after the fall semester of the 2015-2016 academic year to pass the basic skills assessment prior to starting coursework.

Q: Do candidates enrolled in educator preparation programs prior to the 2015-2016 school year who have started coursework need to pass a basic skills assessment?

A: No.

Q: Do graduate level candidate need to pass a basic skills assessment?

A: Yes, the requirement applies to graduate level candidates who have never before held a CE, CEAS, or standard instructional certificate.

Q: Do circumstances exist when a candidate is not required to pass a basic skills assessment?

A: Yes. Students (whether undergraduate or graduate) who score in the top one-third percentile of scorers on the SAT, ACT, or GRE in the year the respective test was taken are not required to pass the assessment. Top one-third percentile scores for each test are listed below and posted here and will be updated for each year the data is available.

Candidates are exempt from the basic skills requirement if they can demonstrate a score on the SAT, ACT, or GRE at or above the cut score for the year in which they took the exam, shown below:

SAT ACT GRE
(must show composite plus writing)
Verbal, Math, and Writing
(composite)
Verbal and Math
(composite)
Verbal
and Math
(composite)
Writing
2007 1670 23 N/A N/A
2008 1670 23 N/A N/A
2009 1660 23 N/A N/A
2010 1660 23 N/A N/A
2011 1660 23 310 4
2012 1660 23 310 4
2013 1650 23 310 4
2014 1630 23 310 4

N/A = reliable data does not exist for these years and thus this flexibility cannot apply

Q: Is the Praxis Core test merely a computer version of the Praxis I or is it substantially different?

A: The Praxis Core test is an entirely different test reflecting the Common Core State Standards. The test is administered via computer only. In July 2013, the State Board passed a resolution accepting the Praxis Core test as a 'Commissioner-approved' test of basic skills.

Q: Are the Praxis Core tests available to take now?

A: Yes, the Praxis Core tests are currently available.

Q: What are the cut scores for the Praxis Core tests?

A: The cut scores recommended by Educational Testing Service (ETS), which have been accepted by the State Board are:

  • Reading (Test Code 5712): 156
  • Writing (Test Code 5722): 162
  • Math (Test Code 5732): 150

Q: Are candidates able to use the Praxis I to fulfill the basic skills requirement?

A: Yes, the Praxis I was available until June 2014 and the Department will recognize its scores.

Q: If a candidate started but did not complete or pass all sections of the Praxis I, which is no longer offered by the testing company, does he or she need to take and pass all sections of the Praxis Core?

A: Yes, the candidate must complete and pass all sections of the Praxis Core.  The Department will not allow portions of the Praxis I and Praxis Core to count together; it will only accept a full series of either test.

Q: Do the Praxis II Content tests count as a measure of basic skills for entry into a preparation program?

A: No, the Praxis II content tests do not qualify as a measure of basic skills for entry into a preparation program. Praxis II tests are designed to measure specific content knowledge, while basic skills assessments, like the Praxis I or Praxis Core tests, are designed to measure general skills in reading, writing and mathematics. Please note that passage of the appropriate state test of subject matter knowledge (Praxis II) is required for purposes of certification, in addition to passage of a basic skills assessment.

Q: If a teacher candidate is accepted into a program prior to the proposed changes, and defers the start of their coursework until September 1, 2015 or later, do they have to pass the 'Commissioner-approved basic skills test?'

A: Yes, anyone whose coursework begins on or after September 1, 2015 must meet the basic skills requirement by passing a Commissioner-approved test of basic skills or achieving a qualifying score on the SAT, ACT, or GRE.

Q: Is it acceptable to provisionally accept students into teacher preparation programs who have not yet taken and passed the basic skills assessment?

A: Yes, however, candidates must meet the basic skills requirement prior to beginning coursework in the program.  For example, if a NJ university begins the application/acceptance process in the spring of 2015 for a fall 2015 cohort, it may accept candidates in the spring who have not yet met the basic skills requirement. However, those candidates will need to meet the requirement prior to starting coursework in the fall.

Q: Are there accommodations for students with disabilities and ELLs on the tests (SAT, ACT, GRE and Praxis Core) that can be used to meet the basic skills requirement?

A: Yes, such accommodations are at the discretion of the testing companies, which are obligated to comply with federal regulations to ensure fair accommodations.
Exit/Certification GPA

Q: What are the GPA requirements to exit a program and obtain certification?

A: To be recommended to the Department for certification, a candidate graduating after September 1, 2016 must have obtained a cumulative GPA of 3.0. This applies to candidates seeking certification via the traditional or alternate route.

Q: After September 1, 2016, can colleges and universities recommend candidates for certification if the candidate has a GPA lower than 3.0?

A: Yes, colleges and universities may use their discretion in applying the following flexibility for purposes of recommending a candidate for certification, although they are not required to do so:

  • A candidate with a GPA equal to or higher than 2.75 can still meet the standards for certification as long as the candidate's score on the appropriate state test of subject matter knowledge (e.g. Praxis II) exceeds the passing score by 10 percent or more.

Q: After September 1, 2016 do colleges and universities have options when recommending for certification a candidate with a GPA substantially higher than 3.0?

A: Yes, colleges and universities may use their discretion in applying the following flexibility for purposes of recommending a candidate for certification, although they are not required to do so:

  • A candidate with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, but whose score on the appropriate state test of subject matter knowledge falls below the passing score by no more than five percent may still be recommended for certification.

Performance-based assessment

Q: What are the requirements around passage of a performance-based assessment?

A: Any candidates who graduate after September 1, 2017 must pass a Commissioner-approved performance-based assessment of teaching (note: this was originally proposed to be effective as of 2015-16 but delayed due to stakeholder feedback).

Q: What constitutes a 'Commissioner-approved performance-based assessment?'

A: The Department expects to determine the list of approved instruments by the summer of 2015 and will provide additional information at that time.

CE (Alternate-Route) Teacher Preparation

Entry GPA

Q: What are the entry GPA requirements?

A: For those graduating after September 1, 2016, a GPA of 3.0 is required for initial licensure. This GPA can be achieved in a baccalaureate degree program, higher degree program, or a state-approved post-baccalaureate certification program with a minimum of 13 semester-hour credits.

Q: After September 1, 2016, does flexibility exist regarding the 3.0 GPA requirement?

A: Yes, the following flexibility exists:
A candidate will have met the GPA requirement with a GPA between 2.75 and 3.0 if he or she meets one of the following exceptions:

  • Graduated prior to September 1, 2016;
  • If graduated after September 1, 2016, scored at least 10% higher than the passing score on the State-approved test of subject knowledge for his or her endorsement; or
  • If graduated after September 1, 2016, is sponsored by an alternate-route program (up to 10% of candidates accepted annually may be sponsored with GPAs between 2.75 and 3.0).

Basic Skills Assessment

Q: What are the requirements for passing a Basic Skills Assessment?

A; Candidates applying for a CE on or after September 1, 2015 must achieve a minimum score on a Commissioner-approved assessment of basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills prior to being issued a certificate. A candidate will have met this requirement if he or she has completed and passed all sections of either the Praxis Pre-Professional Skills Test (Praxis I) or the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Praxis Core).  Currently, only the Praxis Core Academic Skills Test (Praxis Core) is offered by the testing company; the Praxis Pre-Professional Skills Test (Praxis I) has been discontinued.

For all other questions about the basic skills assessment, consult the basic skills assessment FAQs for "Traditional Teacher Preparation" above.

Financial Aid and Loan Forgiveness/Cancellation

Q: What financial aid resources are available for individuals in educator preparation programs in New Jersey?

A: There are a variety of financial aid resources available to individuals who are planning on becoming educators.  In particular, TEACH Grant is a federal program that provides up to $4,000 each year for individuals that agree to teach in a high need elementary school, secondary school, or educational services agency for 4 years after graduating.  More information about program eligibility and requirements can be found via the link above.

Q: What are the requirements for qualifying for loan forgiveness and cancellation as a New Jersey educator?

A: This summary of the federal loan forgiveness and cancellation programs provides an overview of all relevant information. Please do not hesitate to email loans@doe.state.nj.us if you need further assistance.

Q: If I don't qualify for forgiveness or cancellation, is there any other way to provide assistance to paying off student loans?

A: Yes, through a program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness (eligibility and requirements described at this link).  This program was created in 2007 and is for individuals who are working full time in public service jobs.  After you have made 120 payments, the remaining balance of your loan principle will be cancelled.  The first cancellations will not be granted until October 2017. 

Recognition

Q: How does the Department recognize educators for outstanding contributions to the profession?

A: The New Jersey Department of Education recognizes the outstanding contributions of teachers and leaders in a variety of ways. Please visit the Educator Recognition and School Recognition sections of this website for more information on state and national recognition programs

Q: How will educator recognition change upon implementation of AchieveNJ?

A: As AchieveNJ, the new evaluation and support system, rolls out over the next several years, state recognition programs will eventually be tied to the results of educators' summative annual evaluations. For example, teachers selected to serve on the School Improvement Panel (ScIP) must be rated "Effective" or "Highly Effective" in their most recent evaluation starting in school year 2015-16. More information on this link between evaluations and educator recognition will be provided as it becomes available.