On Dec. 16, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill to eliminate edTPA as a requirement for teacher certification in New Jersey. The signing of S-896 was welcome news not only for college students preparing to become teachers, but for those currently working in the state’s public schools who are experiencing firsthand the impact of the growing teacher shortage.
First imposed under Gov. Chris Christie, edTPA proved to be a cumbersome and unreliable indicator of future success in the classroom. In the current staffing crisis, its elimination will provide immediate benefits to New Jersey’s schools and students as hundreds of potential educators will become immediately eligible for their certificate of eligibility or their certificate of eligibility with advanced standing. This will enable them to be employed as teachers without an unnecessary performance assessment.
“This change is a win for students and educators,” wrote NJEA’s officers President Sean M. Spiller, Vice President Steve Beatty, and Secretary-Treasurer Petal Robertson in a joint statement. “Years of experience showed us that edTPA was a costly, frustrating, discriminatory obstacle that did nothing to improve educator quality but frequently kept qualified educators out of our classrooms. With the staffing crisis that is affecting every New Jersey school, getting rid of this Christie-era relic was especially important.”
Member action made the difference
S-896 had passed unanimously in the state Senate and Assembly. This, and the governor’s signature on the bill, is a testament to the action of thousands of NJEA, NJEA Preservice and New Jersey Retirees’ Education Association (NJREA) members.
Over the course of the campaign to end edTPA, members sent over 15,000 emails to legislators and the governor. On social media, members shared over 500 tweets and posts. After the bill passed in the Legislature, members made 540 phone calls to Murphy, asking that he sign the bill.
“We are grateful to the thousands of NJEA members who took the time to call, email and visit legislators and share their stories of why edTPA was a flawed assessment and unnecessary barrier,” NJEA’s officers said.
In signing the legislation, the governor also focused on the barriers imposed by edTPA.
“As we face a national teacher shortage, we must work to establish effective and efficient solutions to grow this critical workforce on behalf of New Jersey’s students,” Murphy said. “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.”
NJEA’s officers were quick to note that the elimination of edTPA is only one part of a broader strategy to address the educator shortage.
“We need to continue to listen to the voices of educators,” the officers said. “That leadership by professional practitioners is how we will make additional smart reforms and implement progressive policies. Our members understand how to make the profession stronger and our schools more successful by eliminating bureaucratic obstacles and time wasters in order to be laser-focused on teaching and learning.”