A major teachers’ union in New Jersey has demanded the state remove the “unnecessary barrier” of a basic skills test for certifying teachers.
The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is calling for the end of the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading, Writing and Math. Teachers must receive a 156 in reading, 150 in math and 162 in writing to pass the test — with the maximum possible score being 200. Educators may bypass the basic skills test if they receive an SAT, ACT or GRE score in the top third percentile of the year they took it, or if they obtain a master’s or terminal degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA.
The NJEA claims that the basic skills test is an “unnecessary barrier” that hinders their effort to put an end to teacher shortages. If New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signs Bill S1553, the requirement will be eliminated.
“When the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) adopted changes to the administrative code around teacher certification, it missed an opportunity to eliminate this requirement, which created an unnecessary barrier to entering the profession,” the NJEA wrote in a statement.
We need you to take action! Last year, NJ eliminated the edTPA, a barrier to becoming a certified teacher. Now it's time to eliminate another barrier: the basic skills test for teachers. Urge Gov. Murphy to sign S1553 right away. #WEareNJEA https://t.co/XH694Vq7Eq
— NJEA (@NJEA) November 8, 2023
Parents Defending Education founder and president Nicki Neily has slammed the NJEA’s effort, arguing that there are better ways to overcome the teacher shortage than to reduce entry standards.
“You can eliminate some of the unnecessary red tape around becoming a teacher without eliminating a basic skills test. Teachers should be able to pass a basic skills test before they’re tasked with educating children in those core subjects,” she wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
You can eliminate some of the unnecessary red tape around becoming a teacher without eliminating a basic skills test.
Teachers should be able to pass a basic skills test before they’re tasked with educating children in those core subjects. https://t.co/pJjTltuoQl
— Nicki Neily (@nickineily) November 14, 2023
This isn’t the first time the NJEA pushed to lower standards for teachers, as they successfully removed another teacher certification in 2022 — the educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). The teachers’ union claimed that the edTPA was costly and discriminatory, and once again argued that it hindered efforts to overcome the teacher shortage.
Speaking at the NJEA’s conference last week, Murphy praised them for their work in trying to fix the teacher shortage — even attacking those who criticize modern teachers, calling them “extremists.”
“They want to dim the light of truth and instead shroud our schools in the darkness of fear and intimidation. Know that I have your backs unconditionally and always,” the New Jersey governor said during the conference.
Beyond focusing on lowering standards for teachers at a time when students are failing to meet basic learning levels, the NJEA has also focused heavily on pushing far-left causes — such as transgenderism. The teachers’ union previously faced backlash for promoting “drag queen story hour.”