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 2013.
As you take steps towards becoming a math teacher in New Jersey you will be working with the State Board of Examiners, the agency directly responsible for issuing teacher certification in the state:
|Complete a Math Teaching Degree Program|
|Complete the New Jersey Teacher Certification Testing Requirements|
|Apply for New Jersey Math Teaching Certification|
|Obtain a Standard Teaching Certificate|
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.
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
Besides the career benefits a master’s degree in education can provide, your students can also benefit from the instruction of a math teacher who has a solid foundation of expertise in both mathematics and education. Students who go on to future success will also ultimately make the career choice to become a math teacher more rewarding.