Certification for Special Education Teachers in New Jersey
Special education teachers are expected to work with students who have a variety of disabilities that can range from mild to severe. These teachers will have to adapt their academic and social skills lessons accordingly. This article will focus on how persons can become a special education teacher in New Jersey.
How to Become a Certified Special Education Teacher in New Jersey
In order to become a special education teacher in New Jersey, interested candidates must first undertake the three-stage general teacher certification and then add special education as an endorsement. The general requirements for standard certification are summarized in the table below.
|Education/Experience Required||Bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA|
|Exam Requirements|| Praxis|
|Certification Renewal Period||Final Certificate is permanent|
|Requirements for Renewal||None|
|Average Salary (2018)||$71,850 (middle school special education teachers in NJ)*|
|Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026)||8% (special education teachers nationally)*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
General Requirements for the Three-Stage Process
To initiate the process, interested candidates must already hold the minimum of a bachelor's degree in an approved teacher preparation program with a GPA of 3.0. Candidates must then complete two sets of exams: Praxis Basic Skills assessments and the edTPA assessment. The Praxis exams are comprised of the Core Academic Skills for Educators in reading, writing, and math. These exams are expected to prepare an educator to cover these basic elements of teaching.
The edTPA is a content knowledge assessment and requires candidates to choose a specialization to study before being assessed. There is no assessment for special education but candidates may choose to specialize in a grade level or subject. For example, candidates may choose to specialize in Early Childhood Education or English.
The Three-Stage Certification Process
By satisfying the criteria above, a candidate can now apply for the Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS) from the New Jersey Department of Education. With a CEAS, candidates can find teaching positions at schools in New Jersey that require certification. Once a candidate has successfully found employment, an officer from the employing school can apply to the New Jersey Department of Education for the candidate to obtain a Provisional Certificate.
A provisional certificate formalizes employment and lasts for up to three years, as long as a candidate teaches for a minimum of two years. For at least 30 weeks during this period, provisional teachers are mentored by other teachers and evaluated according to AchieveNJ instrument standards. Provisional teachers need to be awarded two effective or highly effective final ratings from the supervising school official. When candidates successfully complete the provisional teacher program, they can apply for the permanent standard certificate.
Special Education Endorsement
Aspiring special education teachers can apply for a special education endorsement after getting the CEAS during the three-stage process detailed above. This entails applying online for an Instructional Certificate from the New Jersey Department of Education. The areas available for special education are Blind or Visually Impaired, Deaf or Hard of Hearing (Oral/Aural Communication or Sign Language) and Students with Disabilities. Instructional certificates allow the educator to teach and provide consultative services from preschool through to grade 12.
All applications may be initiated online, but a single packet containing required documents, such as transcripts, must be submitted to the Office of Certification and Induction of the New Jersey Department of Education in order to complete the application process. Application fees can be made online and the candidate must inform the relevant persons when the payment has been made.