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How difficult is it to become a math teacher in NJ?

Changes in testing, testing form an out of state college, getting a job, etc. #education #math

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Subject: Career question for you


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Rachel’s Answer

It really depends what type of teacher you would like to be. However the main pathways are generally the same and the options vary but go along the same lines.

  1. You need to graduate high school.
  2. You need to attend a college/university and earn a four- year B.A. degree. You will want to get a bachelors degree in the subject-matter that you want to teach, this makes certification in your state and subject-area feasible. You may opt to minor or double-major in education. You do not need to have a bachelors in education to be a teacher. I would suggest getting a bachelors degree in the subject you would like to teach. (for example: I am an English teacher, I majored in English literature and now have a bachelors in English).
  3. Once you graduate college with your bachelors degree you have a few options:

A. Go directly to Graduate school and obtain your masters in the area of teaching/education you want to teach (ie. Masters of Education, Masters of Teaching, Masters of Secondary English, Masters of Teaching in Secondary English, Masters of Teaching in Elementary, Masters of Special Education etc.). You may also opt to get a masters degree in the subject-are you wish to teach. However, while in graduate school you must obtain a masters degree in some variation of teaching/education. So you will have either a MAT (Masters of Teaching) or MED (Masters of Education). Most graduate schools have one of the two programs and offer a variation depending on the subject (ie. Masters of Teaching in Secondary English or Masters of Education in Secondary English). This option is ussually a fifth year pathway that allows you to student teach at a school while earning your masters degree.

B. You can apply to an Alternative Route to Certification (if you state has options/offers this). This would look like a program like TeachForAmerica, AmeriCorps TutorCorps, or other Teacher Residency Programs (ie. KIPP Teaching Fellows, MATCH Schools, or charter schools that offer Teacher Resident positions. Look up the options in your state or the options available if state is not a boundary for you. During the year or two-year commitment of these programs you would typically also have classes or being earning a masters degree. This option is for teachers who want to start working directly after they graduate college. Some programs lead to Certification in your state and others lead to BOTH Certification and a Masters Degree. The ARC programs lead to 90 day certifications, which then lead to Initial Educator Certification OR Resident Teacher Certification (ALL are pathways to FULL certification in your state).

  1. Regardless of which route you take you will need to take the certification exams in your state. MOST states, including CT (which is the information I know because it is my state) require the PRAXIS exams. You will need to research certification requirements within your own state for more information. However, while you are earning your masters (or after you have earned your bachelors) you will want to also prepare for and take the PRAXIS Core (which can be waived if your SAT/ACT scores are high enough) and the PRAXIS II which cannot be waived and MUST be passed for certification.
  2. Once you have obtained your Bachelors degree AND Masters degree AND Passed your state certification exams AND done some form of students teaching (whether that is during college or in a residency program) you can then:
  3. Go to your state board of education website and complete your certification information.
  4. Then, you can APPLY as a LEAD teacher in the area you are certified.

MOST pathways take 4-6 years. You will be able to start your first year of teaching as a lead teacher generally in year 5 or 6.

This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • Earn a bachelors degree in the subject area you would like to teach in AND or a bachelors in Education.
  • Decide if you want to do a teaching Residency program like Teach For America or if you would like to go straight to graduate school to earn your masters degree.
  • Apply to Graduate schools and Teaching Residency programs. During your senior year of college.
  • Begin your first year of grad school or teaching residency.
  • Earn your Masters degree in Education or Teaching, in the area you would like to teach in.

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Fuzzy’s Answer

It is the goal of the New Jersey Department of Education to provide the state’s students with the best possible education in mathematics. This is important on several fronts; not least of which is the increasingly important role math plays in key industries like engineering and technology. Math teachers answer this call, providing a level of instruction that allowed New Jersey’s ACT test takers to earn the third-highest average math score in the country in 2016.

Step 1. Complete a Math Teaching Degree
There are actually two components of a math teacher degree in New Jersey: a traditional math program and an education program that focuses on teaching. To complete this first component you will need to obtain at least 30 credits in the field of mathematics. The level of these courses needs to increase sequentially and include advanced courses in areas like:

FORTRAN programming language (Formula Translating System)
Possible degrees that can fulfill these initial math course requirements include:

B.S. or B.A. in Mathematics
B.S. In Mechanical Engineering
B.S. In Electrical Engineering
The other segment of your degree needs to include a teacher preparation program. This will prepare you to be an effective math teacher in the classroom, and traditionally culminates in a student teaching program. Courses in this segment include:

Fundamentals of education and pedagogy
Teaching students with disabilities and special needs
Teaching diverse students
Education psychology
Lesson planning
Student assessments
Self-evaluation and improvement
Student teaching
While you are completing your degree you must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 if you are graduating on or after September 2016. If you are graduating before this time, you are allowed to have a minimum GPA of 2.75. In some circumstances you can offset a lower GPA with a high test score detailed in Step 2.

Candidates Who Already Have a Bachelor’s Degree

If you already have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field of mathematics you may be eligible for an alternative teaching preparation program. To date, more than 29,000 teachers have taken this route to certification in New Jersey.

This will allow you to begin teaching in the classroom after completing an initial intensive pedagogical segment, pairing you with an experienced math teacher mentor. This on-the-job training takes the place of student teaching. However, you will still be required to demonstrate you are ready to be placed in a classroom. You can do this by obtaining 24 hours of classroom teaching experience, and demonstrating such by submitting a verification form with your initial application for certification.

Out-of-State Candidates

In general you will meet the math teacher certification requirements in New Jersey if you completed a program in your home state with requirements that are equivalent to New Jersey’s. If you have less than three years of teaching experience you will also need to meet New Jersey’s GPA requirements of 3.0 on or after September 2016, or 2.75 before. If you are a certified teacher in another state with at least one year of teaching experience you can apply directly for a Standard Teaching Certificate in New Jersey.

Step 2. Complete the New Jersey Teacher Certification Testing Requirements
There are several tests you must pass in order to meet the requirements for math teacher jobs in New Jersey:

Basic Skills Test
Praxis II Math Exam
Physiology and Hygiene Test
Basic Skills Test

This test will be required for all math teachers applying for certification starting in September 2015. The specific test you will need to take must be approved by the Commissioner of Education. The details of the exam are featured on the Educational Testing Services (ETS) website that details New Jersey requirements for testing. The Basic Skills Test is designed to ensure that you can meet the basic writing, reading, and problem solving skills needed by all teachers throughout New Jersey.

You may also be able to demonstrate you possess these basic required skills and thereby be exempt from this exam if you have proof of any of the following:

Score of 1660 on the combined critical reading, writing, and mathematics portions of the SAT
Score of 23 on the ACT
GRE score of 4.0 on the analytical writing section plus a combined quantitative and verbal score of 310
Praxis II Math Exam

Prospective math teachers for secondary school students will also need to pass the ETS Praxis II Mathematics: Content Knowledge exam. ETS offers a study guide for this test, for which you will have 150 minutes to complete 60 questions on the topics of:

Discrete mathematics
Algebra and functions
Number and quantity
Probability and statistics
ETS will send your test score results from both its exams directly to the Department of Education. New Jersey offers a unique system of evaluation for your ETS testing scores. A high GPA from your academic program can offset a low ETS test score, and vice versa allowing for added flexibility.

Physiology and Hygiene Test

This test is administered at your local county’s Office of Education and is required to ensure you have a basic knowledge of health. You will be evaluated on the following, and you can gain an exemption from this test if you have completed basic military training or have completed college-level study in health, nutrition, or biology:

Effects of narcotics and alcohol
Proper hygiene habits
Physiology, health, fitness and nutrition

Step 3. Apply for New Jersey Math Teaching Certification
Once you have successfully completed an approved teacher preparation program along with your math degree, and have completed the required tests, you are eligible for what is known a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing. This will allow you to start working as a math teacher and get you one step closer to being eligible to step up to the next level in certification, a Standard Certificate.

If you have completed these accomplishments along with an alternative teacher preparation program, you are eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility that will also allow you to teach in New Jersey.

You can apply online for you New Jersey teaching certificate, however there are certain documents you will need to mail in to the Department of Education:

Verification that you have completed a teaching preparation program
An official letter from the school where you completed your student teaching or on-the-job training, stating such
Official college transcripts
Oath of allegiance (non-citizen oath of allegiance)
Results of your Physiology and Hygiene test
Fee of $190 paid online
Once you have become a licensed teacher you can find vacant math teacher positions through websites like NJ School Jobs.

Step 4. Obtain a Standard Teaching Certificate
After you have found employment as a math teacher your next step will be to work towards a permanent Standard Teaching Certificate. This is done by completing what is known as a Provisional Teacher Program (PTP). This program is designed to act as a means of support for you while you become accustomed to your new career as a math teacher.

Once you are hired your district will enroll you in a local PTP. At this point you will be issued a Provisional Teaching Certificate that is valid for two years. Entrance to a PTP effectively converts your Certificate of Eligibility or Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing to a Provisional Teaching Certificate. The PTP is a training program that you complete during your first year of employment.

As part of your PTP program you will need to attend at least 200 hours of formal instruction. This can be:

At approved regional training centers
At New Jersey colleges and universities
Through programs for those pursuing an alternate route to certification
Through a Master of Arts in Teaching program
Once you have completed your PTP program you will be eligible for recommendation by your home school district for a Standard Teaching Certificate.

When completing your PTP, it is worth thinking about the option of earning a master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL. This can be beneficial for several reasons:

Improved job security based on a review of your qualifications
Added job flexibility to pursue advanced positions that require a master’s degree
Experience and qualifications can be taken into consideration for salary increases