By Francine Pfeffer
Praxis is a poor tool for predicting the success of professional educators, wrote Brian Ward in the June 2021 edition of NJEA Review. Ward is an automotive/diesel technology instructor at Sussex County Technical School in Sparta and is president of his local association. In January of this year, legislation creating alternatives to Praxis for professional educators was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy.
Teachers must have a college degree unless teaching in a vocational and technical education program. For these programs, as Ward pointed out in his article, the best teachers are those with experience in the field. Individuals who wish to teach in a vocational/career and technical education (CTE) program may qualify to participate in the alternative education program through work experience and a professional license or certification, as applicable. . Many professional instructors spend years in their chosen fields before deciding to teach.
Several years ago, the New Jersey Department of Education began requiring individuals pursuing a CTE certificate to pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators before qualifying to receive their standard certificate. Members of the NJEA’s Vocational, Vocational and Technical Education Committee were concerned that across the state, vocational districts were hiring promising teachers, masters of their craft, who were working with a provisional certificate and could not receive a certificate. standard. Despite multiple tries and hours with tutors, some people did not pass this Praxis test.
In 2019, the Career, Vocational and Technical Education Committee met with the Certification, Assessment and Tenure Committee to discuss the issue, and the committees issued a joint report to the Assembly of Delegates of the NJEA (DA) calling for multiple options to assess core competencies for professional educators. In May 2019, the DA adopted the policy recommendation.
At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, the NJEA and the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools (NJCCVTS) began discussions with the New Jersey Department of Education to obtain this change through the regulations. When COVID-19 hit New Jersey, the effort stalled.
As the 2021 session of the legislature drew to a close this fall, the legislature took action and passed S-4074, which was sponsored in the Senate by Teresa Ruiz and James Beach and in the Assembly by Anthony Verrelli, Pamela Lampitt and Linda Carter. Instead of taking the Praxis test, the bill allows alternative pathway CTE teacher candidates to demonstrate their basic skills through another measure approved by the Department of Education. Murphy signed it into law on January 18.
This bill is a victory for vocational schools and students. Professional instructors will now have several ways to demonstrate their mastery of the basic skills. Schools will be able to keep their best instructors, and students are the winners because they learn their craft from teachers with years of experience in the field.
The Ministry of Education has yet to issue regulations to implement this law, which will come into force at the start of the next school year. In the meantime, the NJEA and NJCCVTS are asking for relief for all CTE instructors whose provisional certificates expire at the end of this school year.
If you are a CTE instructor whose provisional certificate expires at the end of this school year and you have questions about your status, contact your local association president.
Francine Pfeffer is Associate Director of the NJEA’s Government Relations Division and is the resource person for the NJEA’s Career, Vocational, and Technical Education Committee. Wheeler can be contacted at [email protected] Pfeffer can be contacted at [email protected]