Gov. Phil Murphy said the testing requirement "acted as a barrier in the transition between sitting in a classroom and leading a classroom." (Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office)
In an effort to address the teacher shortage plaguing schools across the state, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill Friday doing away with a state-mandated test for people who want to teach in New Jersey.
The law eliminates the requirement for prospective teachers to take the Education Teacher Performance Assessment, or edTPA, before they can become eligible for a permanent standard teaching certificate.
Murphy had conditionally vetoed an earlier version of the bill, sending it back to the Legislature with recommendations to allow teacher preparation programs, instead of the state, to offer performance-based testing.
“By eliminating edTPA, we will streamline a process that has previously acted as a barrier in the transition between sitting in a classroom and leading a classroom. In New Jersey we recognize that teaching is not only a career, but a calling,” Murphy said in a statement.
Critics of the test and education advocates say the edTPA is a financial burden for would-be teachers and discriminates disproportionately against low-income students, increasing racial inequities among teacher candidates.
In a statement, New Jersey Education Association President Sean Spiller, who represents the largest teachers union in the state, called the test requirement unnecessary and said Murphy’s action is “a win for students and educators in New Jersey.”
Educators say removing the test as a requirement will increase the number of qualified candidates in the hiring pool. The New Jersey Education Association said hundreds of potential teachers will immediately become eligible for certification.
The long-standing teacher vacancy problem was aggravated by the pandemic, but it’s not clear exactly how bad it is. Murphy recently signed a law requiring state education officials to issue annual reports using data on the teaching workforce.
The new law will become effective for teacher candidates who complete the steps toward becoming an educator in the spring of 2024.
Murphy signed a law in September requiring the state Department of Education to create a five-year pilot program where officials will issue special certificates to potential teachers to fill vacancies in schools. Teachers approved for that certificate can obtain a standard certificate if they pass at least two evaluations.
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