The regulations at N.J.A.C. 6A:9, also known as Chapter 9, are the largest set of regulations in the education code. Because of their crucial role in shaping education in New Jersey, it’s important for NJEA members to have some background. Within Chapter 9 are rules on educator prep programs, a list of all available certificates and endorsements, mentoring regulations, professional development standards, and more. The regulations are now up for renewal, and in August 2022 the New Jersey Department of Education began discussing potential changes to the rules.
The process of creating and changing regulations is long and sometimes complicated, but it presents stakeholders with opportunities to provide input through submitting testimony. NJEA routinely submits organizational testimony and, in addition, we submit compilations of member testimony on key issues affecting our members. Our 348 pages of testimony against the edTPA, submitted in January 2022, helped shape the debate around that issue.
So far, NJEA has submitted two rounds of written testimony on the proposed changes to Chapter 9. We have urged the NJDOE to take bold action to address shortages, increase equity, strengthen teaching and learning, and bolster the esteem of the profession. In a positive development, our proposal on broadening middle school certification categories resulted in two new middle school endorsements being proposed: Middle School with Subject-Area Specialization in STEM, and Middle School with Subject-Area Specialization in Humanities. We are hopeful that this proposal will bring about added flexibilities while increasing interdisciplinary learning and fostering collaboration.
However, there is still work to be done. The education community is virtually unanimous in its belief that the basic skills test (commonly known as the Praxis Core) is an unnecessary requirement and must be completely eliminated. Our neighbors in Pennsylvania recently waived this test in an attempt to address the teacher shortage, but the NJDOE has declined to follow suit. If you would like to submit written comments on the basic skills test, or any other aspects of the Chapter 9 regulations, we urge you to visit our SBOE comment tool and make your voice heard by Nov. 1.