Gov. Signs Teacher Leader Law

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Governor Chris Christie signed legislation, P.L.2015, c.111 (A-448 (Jasey, Diegnan) / S-165 (Whelan)),September 18 which would create a new teacher -leader endorsement.

The specialized endorsement is intended to extend career ladders for teachers seeking to advance as leaders while remaining in the classroom, and to further support these teachers as they build upon their capacity to design, lead, and support professional learning opportunities for local schools and districts.

The law also establishes an 11-member Teacher Leader Endorsement Advisory Board in the Department of Education to make recommendations to the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education regarding the eligibility requirements for receiving the teacher leader endorsement and the program of study for the teacher leader endorsement. The recommendations regarding the program of study may include field experiences and additional coursework acquired beyond the standards. The Advisory Board is also tasked with making recommendations for necessary adjustments to the program of study for the teacher leader endorsement, assessing outcomes, and considering emergent research and best practices in teacher leadership.  The advisory board will represent teachers, principals, superintendents, school boards, and teacher-preparation programs and is expected to provide its recommendations within six months after its formation.    NJPSA is a named member on the taskforce and supports the measure.

Teachers with the specialized endorsement would be expected to demonstrate the ability to foster a collaborative culture to support educator development and student learning, and support collaborative team structures, including professional learning communities. They would also exemplify the use of research to improve upon best practices for student learning, and promote continuous professional development.   Under the law, a teacher leader would likely be tasked with coaching and working collaboratively with colleagues to ensure that instructional practices are aligned to a shared mission, vision, and goals, and would promote the use of assessments and data for school and district improvement.

The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 33-0 and the Assembly with a vote of 75-0.  The legislation is effective December 17.