The State Board of Education today adopted new regulations designed to increase the supply of world languages teacher candidates in New Jersey. The new amendments allow for the issuance of conditional certificates for certain candidates.
"This amendment will enable districts to fulfill an immediate and critical demand for qualified world language teachers at both the K-8 and high school levels," said Commissioner of Education David Hespe. "Parents will be pleased that their children will be taught world languages by teachers who have high level language skills and can provide consistency of instruction.
"Most importantly, students will gain as they will be taught by linguistically competent individuals who have had meaningful experiences interacting in a world language," the Commissioner said.
"The State Board is pleased to be able to respond positively to local district concerns about finding qualified world language teachers," said Maud Dahme, president of the State Board of Education. "We believe that the conditional certificate will benefit schools and students without compromising the quality of the program."
Commissioner Hespe noted that districts throughout the state have reported difficulty in finding certified teachers to implement world language programs at all grade levels as required by the Core Curriculum Content Standards. The new conditional certificate increases the supply of candidates for these positions while ensuring that each candidate has demonstrated a high level of competence in language fluency and a desire to work towards achieving a full teaching certificate.
Under the new regulations, districts can apply for conditional certificates after they have tried unsuccessfully to fill positions with certified candidates. The application must include documentation to support the candidates eligibility for conditional certification.
Candidates for conditional world languages certificates must hold a bachelors degree from a four-year college or university and have a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.75 when a grade of 4.0 represents an A grade. In addition, candidates must possess linguistic competency as measured by a nationally recognized test of oral proficiency as identified by the Department of Education.
A conditional world languages certificate can be renewable annually for a maximum of five years. In the first year, each candidate must complete college coursework in world language methodology and must in subsequent years demonstrate progress toward meeting state requirements for standard teacher certification within five years.
The option for conditional certificates is expected to attract candidates who are traditionally hard to recruit into the profession. For example, heritage language speakers who represent the diverse cultures of New Jersey will have an opportunity to teach world languages, enhancing the diversity of the teaching force and complementing the diversity of students.
The new rules take effect immediately.