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New Jersey Teachers Union Calls For End Of Basic Skills Test For Teachers

  One of   New Jersey’s   main teachers unions is calling for the end of the basic skills test for certifying teachers. The New Jersey Educa...

 One of New Jersey’s main teachers unions is calling for the end of the basic skills test for certifying teachers.

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is advocating for the demise of the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading, Writing and Math. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s signing of Bill S1553 would eliminate that requirement; NJEA called the test “an unnecessary barrier” hindering the alleviation of teacher shortages.

“When the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) adopted changes to the administrative code around teacher certification, it missed an opportunity to eliminate this requirement, which created an unnecessary barrier to entering the profession,” stated NJEA.

Passing scores for the basic skills test are 156 for reading, 150 for math, and 162 for writing. The maximum possible score is 200.

Certain educators don’t have to take the basic skills test: those who achieve an SAT, ACT, or GRE score in the top third percentile of the year they took it, as well as those who obtain a master’s or terminal degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA.

Nicki Neily, founder and president of Parents Defending Education, insisted that there were better options for overcoming the teacher shortage other than reducing entry standards.

“Teachers should be able to pass a basic skills test before they’re tasked with educating children in those core subjects,” said Neily.


NJEA successfully advocated for the end of another teacher certification test last year, the educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). NJEA criticized the edTPA as a costly, discriminatory, and unnecessary hindrance to overcoming the teacher shortage.

NJEA represents over 200,000 active and retired educators in the state.

Governor Murphy may comply with NJEA’s petition; he spoke at their conference last week, and praised them for their advocacy in other teacher shortage reduction efforts.

Murphy credited the NJEA for codifying over $20 million in funding for recruiting and training educators, stipends for student teachers, local partnerships expanding paraprofessional training, and over $4.1 million in teachers certification fees waived for about 18,000 educators this past year.

“These investments are crucial to solving our state shortage of educators, and none of them would have made their way into this year’s budget without the NJEA’s influence,” said Murphy.

Murphy also indicated that his administration would put Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) “on a diet,” which he concurred were “bureaucracy-like.” The SGOs are long-term academic goals for students set by teachers in collaboration with supervisors. The governor’s remarks elicited applause and cheers from the NJEA conference crowd: “No more SGOs!”

The governor called those critical of modern public educators “extremists” seeking to insert political ideology in schools, citing specifically those against LGBTQ+ ideology in classrooms.

“They want to dim the light of truth and instead shroud our schools in the darkness of fear and intimidation,” said Murphy. “Know that I have your backs unconditionally and always.”

NJEA’s annual convention made headlines for another reason last week: for another year in a row, the union held a drag queen story hour.

All schools close so that educators can attend the convention.

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