Professional Standards and Learning
September 14, 2005
|TO:||Chief School Administrators
Charter School Lead Persons
|FROM:||Richard C. Ten Eyck, Assistant Commissioner
Division of Educational Programs and Assessment
|SUBJECT:||Elementary Education Endorsements|
Many questions have been raised recently about the new K-5 and 5-8 licensing endorsements and the impact they may have on a schools organization at middle level grades. This memo reviews the new endorsements, the reasons for the changes, the timelines for their issuance, and how the changes could affect instructional delivery in grades 6-8.
As you are aware, one of the key goals of the licensure code revision was the alignment of New Jerseys requirements to the highly qualified teacher provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The NCLB Act requires teachers to demonstrate content knowledge mastery of each academic subject they teach. The departments policy guidance can be found in The New Jersey Model for Identifying Highly Qualified Teachers now being disseminated to all districts and available on our website.
New K-5 and 5-8 Endorsements
The State Board of Education replaced the single K-8 elementary education endorsement with two separate endorsements:
The new elementary education endorsement authorizes the certificate holder to serve as an elementary school teacher in grades K-5.
The new elementary school with subject matter specialization endorsement authorizes the certificate holder to teach the specialty subjects listed on the certificate in grades 5-8. Teachers with this credential are also licensed as K-5 teachers.
The State Board of Education adopted the new 5-8 endorsement to ensure that all new middle school teachers had sufficient expertise to teach to the rigor of the Core Curriculum Content Standards. The endorsement requires a minimum of 15 credits in the subject area to be taught
and a passing score on the appropriate Praxis test in the content area. This new endorsement reflects current research about the importance of deep content knowledge in improving teaching and learning and effective ways of educating young adolescents. It is also in response to concerns about poor student performance on the Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment. There is a growing trend in states across the country to put policies in place that require a middle level credential to assist in bolstering student achievement.
All current holders of the K-8 elementary education certificate have been grandfathered. The new endorsements are being introduced gradually. New Jersey college preparation programs were given until September 2005 to align their programs to the new licensing requirements. As a result, traditional route teacher candidates graduating from New Jersey colleges were issued the K-8 elementary endorsement in 2005. That will continue in 2006 and 2007 as students complete programs that were approved based on the former regulations. Teacher candidates enrolled in New Jersey alternate route programs or from colleges in other states are currently being issued the new K-5 and 5-8 endorsements.
Middle Grades Organization
These new regulations will eventually impact how districts organize instruction for grades 6-8. Districts that departmentalize instruction at any of the grade levels may use K-8 certified teachers who are highly qualified in the specific subject area(s) taught. They may also use new teachers certified with the 5-8 endorsement, but only in the subject areas designated on the endorsement. They may also use content area specialists certified K-12.
Those districts that provide self-contained instruction at any of these grade levels will be able to use, in most cases, highly qualified K-8 certified teachers only. The number of K-8 teachers should hold steady for many years. Ultimately, they will be replaced by K-5 elementary and 5-8 teachers certified in specific content areas. This will require changing how instruction is provided in grade 6-8. Principals and central office staff should continually review the current and future supply of K-8 teachers and plan to move toward a departmentalized organizational structure.
If you or your staff have further questions about this or other licensing issues, please contact the Office of Licensing at 609-292-3787.
Members, State Board of Education