NJ Teachers Union Calls For Elimination Of Teacher Certification Test

The New Jersey Education Association is trying to see to the removal of the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading, Writing, and Math, a test that is required of every candidate for teacher certification in the state.

For the NJEA, which is a major teacher’s union in New Jersey, the basic skills test is “an unnecessary barrier” preventing aspiring teachers from entering the profession. They argue that the test, which requires minimum scores of 156 for reading, 150 for math, and 162 for writing out of a maximum possible score of 200, creates an unnecessary hurdle for potential educators.

While candidates can also show SAT, GRE or ACT results in the top third percentile of the year they took the test, and a master’s or terminal degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 is also a substitute for the basic skills test, the NJEA believes that these exemptions are not sufficient to address the teacher shortage crisis in the state.

With the basic skills test out of the way, the union believes that the teaching profession can be rid of barriers and provide an equal ground for candidates. However, not everyone is on board with the idea.

According to Nicki Neily, founder and president of Parents Defending Education, there are better alternatives for addressing the teacher shortage than lowering entry standards.

In a post on X, she wrote, “You can eliminate some of the unnecessary red tape around becoming a teacher without eliminating a basic skills test. Teachers should be able to pass a basic skills test before they’re tasked with educating children in those core subjects.”

This is not the first time NJEA has successfully lobbied for changes in teacher certification. Last year, they played a key role in ending the Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), which they said was a costly, discriminatory, and unnecessary barrier to addressing the teacher shortage.

In their latest effort, the union is calling on New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to sign Bill S1553, which would eliminate the reading, writing and math test as a requirement for teachers in the state.

They might get their wish, as Murphy has voiced support for NJEA’s efforts in teacher shortage reduction. He recently spoke at their conference, where he praised the organization for its advocacy. Under his leadership, the state has allocated over $20 million in funding for recruiting and training educators, providing stipends for student teachers, expanding paraprofessional training through local partnerships, and waiving teacher certification fees for around 18,000 educators in the past year.

In addition to those, Murphy shared that his administration would streamline Student Growth Objectives (SGOs), which are long-term academic goals for students set by teachers in collaboration with supervisors. Many educators welcomed this move, as SGOs have often been seen as bureaucratic and burdensome.

During his speech at the NJEA conference, the Democrat governor also took a stance against those who aim to inject political ideology into schools, particularly those who oppose LGBTQ+ education in classrooms. He reassured educators that his administration supports their efforts to create inclusive and accepting learning environments.