New Jersey Professional Standards for Teachers: Introduction and Summary of Current Proficiencies as of May 2014
Effective May 5, 2014, the New Jersey Professional Standards for Teachers have been updated to incorporate current research on teaching practice, new understandings of learners and the learning process, and to align to the 2011 Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Model Core Teaching Standards. These standards:
- Describe the performances, knowledge, and dispositions that teachers need to be effective in supporting college and career readiness for all students;
- Outline the principles of teaching practice that cut across all subject areas and grade levels and are necessary to improve student achievement; and
- Serve as the common foundation for pre-service teacher education, certification, induction and mentoring, educator evaluation, and professional development.
The following fundamental understandings anchor the content of the standards:
- Teaching and learning are dynamic processes. Instruction is rooted in integrated and reciprocal classroom practice, and educator effectiveness is closely tied to student learning.
- Expertise in teaching develops over time. While the previous standards were geared more to beginning teachers, these standards are rooted in professional practice across the continuum of teacher development.
- 21st century skills are fundamental. Teachers need to foster students’ curiosity, creativity, innovation, problem solving, global literacy, communication, and interpersonal skills. Students need to understand technology and ethics and be able to synthesize information across disciplines.
- The focus must move from teachers’ teaching to learners’ learning. Teachers must acquire and apply the knowledge and skills to customize and personalize learning for learners with a range of individual differences.
- Assessment literacy is an essential skill. Teachers need to have greater knowledge and skill around how to develop a range of assessments and how to use assessment data to improve instruction and support learner success.
- A collaborative professional culture improves teaching effectiveness. We can no longer treat teaching as an isolated activity. When teachers collectively engage in participatory decision making, designing lessons, using data, and examining student work, they are able to deliver more rigorous and relevant instruction.
- Teachers should embrace leadership roles. Teachers should advocate for their own and their students’ needs, actively investigate new ideas to improve teaching and learning, participate in the collaborative culture, and advance the profession.
New to these updated standards is the inclusion of key themes across multiple standards. In some cases, the theme is not explicitly stated but can be inferred from the description of the knowledge, disposition, or performance within the standard. The integrated themes are as follows:
- Critical thinking/problem solving
- Cultural competence
- English language learners
- Families and communities
- Individual differences
- Interdisciplinary/multiple perspectives
- Professional Learning
- Student-directed learning
- Teacher responsibility
- Use of data to support learning
Adaptation of the 2011 InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards to the NJ State Context
Although the updated NJ Professional Standards for Teachers closely track with the 2011 InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards, they are not identical. Some changes in language and organization were necessary to align the standards with New Jersey law, the prior state teaching standards, and statewide priorities. The complete text of the 2014 NJ Professional Standards for Teachers with highlights showing the divergence from the 2011 InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards can be found on the TE Luminis group page as the document entitled teacherstandardscrosswalk.2014.
The standards are now organized under four domains:
Domain One: The Learner and Learning
Standard 1: Learner Development: The teacher understands how learners grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas, and designs and implements developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences.
Standard 2: Learning Differences: The teacher uses understanding of individual differences and diverse cultures and communities to ensure inclusive learning environments that enable each learner to meet high standards.
Standard 3: Learning Environments: The teacher works with others to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning, and that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation.
Domain Two: Content
Standard 4: Content Knowledge: The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches, particularly as they relate to the Common Core Standards and the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards and creates learning experiences that make these aspects of the discipline accessible and meaningful for learners to assure mastery of the content.
Standard 5: Application of Content: The teacher understands how to connect concepts and use differing perspectives to engage learners in critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem solving related to authentic local and global issues.
Domain Three: Instructional Practice
Standard 6: Assessment: The teacher understands and uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners in their own growth, to monitor learner progress, and to guide the teacher’s and learner’s decision making.
Standard 7: Planning for Instruction: The teacher plans instruction that supports every student in meeting rigorous learning goals by drawing upon knowledge of content areas, curriculum, cross-disciplinary skills, and pedagogy, as well as knowledge of learners and the community context.
Standard 8: Instructional Strategies: The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage learners to develop deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and to build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways.
Domain Four: Professional Responsibility
Standard 9: Professional Learning: The teacher engages in ongoing individual and collaborative professional learning designed to impact practice in ways that lead to improved learning for each student, using evidence of student achievement, action research and best practice to expand a repertoire of skills, strategies, materials, assessments and ideas to increase student learning.
Standard 10: Leadership and Collaboration: The teacher engages in ongoing individual and collaborative professional learning designed to impact practice in ways that lead to improved learning for each student, using evidence of student achievement, action research and best practice to expand a repertoire of skills, strategies, materials, assessments and ideas to increase student learning.
Standard 11: Ethical Practice: The teacher engages in ongoing individual and collaborative professional learning designed to impact practice in ways that lead to improved learning for each student, using evidence of student achievement, action research and best practice to expand a repertoire of skills, strategies, materials, assessments and ideas to increase student learning.