ARE TEACHERS PREPARED?
After developing, adopting and implementing standards-based reform in New Jersey, we still have the challenge of ensuring that every student in every public school achieves the Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS). If we accomplish this goal, all students will go on to college or to a career equipped with the skills and knowledge they need for a successful transition into adulthood.
Implementation of the more rigorous standards adopted in 1996 and revised in 2004 and 2009, places increased demands on students to work at more advanced levels in every subject. There are also greater demands on teachers to increase their skills and knowledge so they can help all students achieve. In addition to the state’s requirements, there are federal mandates underthe No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) for every teacher to be highly qualified by the year 2014. The department has a federally approved plan to assist school districts that are experiencing difficulty meeting the 100 percent goal.
Research has confirmed that the skill of the classroom teacher is a critical component of student achievement. If standards-based reform is to reach all students, we must provide teachers with numerous opportunities to upgrade their skills, along with strategies for helping students achieve the standards. To make available to teachers high-quality professional development activities, the Department of Education, in collaboration with the N. J. Education Association (NJEA), has established the Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB). There are also county and local professional development committees that work in conjunction with the PTSB. They consist of teachers, administrators, school board members and the public. The department, working with the PTSB, developed teaching standards aligned with national criteria to create uniform expectations for teacher preparation programs, mentoring and professional development. The State Board of Education in December 2003 adopted standards for both teachers and administrators.
To improve the quantity and quality of New Jersey's teaching force and to remain competitive in providing the best teachers for our children, DOE also conducts a teacher recruitment program to attract qualified individuals to the teaching profession. The NJ HIRE Web site is the cornerstone of the teacher recruitment initiative. It is a one-stop information and referral recruitment center for individuals who may be interested in a teaching career. We also know how much support it takes to help new teachers make the transition into the classroom, so New Jersey requires that new teachers have the guidance of a teacher mentor for at least one year.
The above-mentioned teacher support initiatives are just a few offered by the state to assure that every classroom has knowledgeable, effective teachers to help children reach the CCCS. There are many other initiatives that have been established through grant programs. Parents may want to inquire of their school districts whether they have utilized the many professional development resources available through the state.