State Board Makes Last Minute Changes to Teacher Prep Code

Posted · Add Comment

The State Board of Education approved several last minute changes related to clinical practice/student teaching requirements as part of the current regulatory proposal related to teacher preparation and certification.

Last Minute Changes

The changes, proposed by State Board President Mark Biedron, amends proposed clinical practice requirements to give preparation programs more flexibility for clinical practice within course sequences.  Specifically, the last minute change still requires teacher prep programs to provide 175 hrs of clinical practice/student teaching leading up to one semester of full-time clinical practice/student teaching; but permits teacher candidates to complete the 175 hours over more than one semester; as long as at least 100 hours still occur in the semester immediately preceding the full semester of clinical practice/student teaching.

Along with extending the time for student teaching, the state is also requiring more training hours for career and technical educators who transition from jobs in their industry and limiting the amount of time substitute teachers can spend in individual classrooms.

At the Board meeting yesterday, the Department also announced the creation of a ‘waiver process’ for individual teacher prep programs to seek additional flexibility from the requirements in light of specific facts and circumstances.  In the coming days the Department will be working with higher education to develop implementation supports / guidance, better define the waiver process, and help coordinate training / information / resources with approved Teacher Performance Assessment vendors.

Other changes include:

changes at proposal level

No Additional Public Review Required

The changes were approved for final adoption without further deliberation under the Administrative Procedures Act in light of the fact that they provide affected parties enhanced flexibility such that additional publication and notice are not required.

NJPSA Weighs In

NJPSA had extensive conversations with the Department, testifying at several junctures on the substantial proposal as the code moved through the regulatory process.

The Proposal

The proposal includes changes for both ‘traditional’ route candidates as well as ‘alternate route’ candidates (State Board Gets Update On Professional Licensure, Approves Praxis Early Childhood, May 7, 2015).  According to Assistant Commissioner Shulman the Department began their work around licensure with the June 2014 regulatory package, which raised the bar for entry into the profession.  This proposal seeks build on that work to:

  • Create a higher bar for entry into the teaching profession
  • Ensure preparation that supports high-quality instruction (e.g. Common Core State Standards, PARCC, and evaluation), guaranteeing novice teachers are exposed to an environment promoting student achievement
  • Integrating rich data to distinguish the quality of individual teacher candidates and their programs

Fundamentally, teacher preparation and certification are modified as follows:

  • Increase the duration of student teaching experiences for teacher candidates to extend over at least one full school year. Previously, one semester was required.
  • Ensure teacher candidates are exposed to multiple types of classrooms, including at least one setting with students with disabilities, prior to student teaching.
  • Require “alternate route” candidates to receive sequential training from a single teacher-preparation program. Previously, candidates could receive piecemeal training from multiple teacher-preparation providers.
  • Require all teachers to complete a performance assessment in order to earn their certification. In addition to existing licensure assessments, which measure how well teachers know the content they’ll be teaching, performance assessments require candidates to demonstrate their ability to plan and teach a lesson.
  • All teachers will now earn their standard teacher certification after demonstrating competency through the statewide AchieveNJ educator-evaluation system rather than a separate system.

According to the Department, the initiative is intended to complement the state’s improved evaluation and professional growth systems for practicing teachers.

While many of the enhancements adopted  take effect immediately, others will be phased in over the next few years. The Department has already established Educator Preparation Provider Annual Reports and improved preparation program approval and review processes to provide programs, teacher candidates, and districts with transparent data and expectations about teacher preparation.

As a next step, a teacher performance assessment will be required for candidates to demonstrate their ability to plan and teach a lesson prior to certification. By 2018, all preparation programs will ensure teacher candidates have extensive student teaching experience over at least one full school year.