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How to Become a Preschool Teacher in New Jersey

Preschool teachers in New Jersey are required to have a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher preparation program and pass certification tests. Continue reading to learn more about how to become a preschool teacher in New Jersey.

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According to 2016 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, preschool teachers in New Jersey earn the 3rd-highest average salaries among preschool teachers in the United States. To qualify to teach preschool, they must meet many of the same certification requirements as all teachers in the state of New Jersey. The required certification qualifies them to teach students in preschool through to grade 3.

New Jersey Preschool Teacher Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in New Jersey (2016)* $40,720 (Preschool)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Education with an early childhood education focus
Testing Requirements edTPA, Praxis Core, Early Childhood Education Praxis

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Pass Praxis Core Tests

In order to be certified in New Jersey it is necessary to pass the Praxis Core tests before starting teacher education coursework. There are three subtests that make up the Praxis Core. These tests are the Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading, Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing and Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics. The passing score for the reading subtest is 156 while a score of 162 is needed to pass the writing subtest. Applicants taking the mathematics subtest must earn 150 or more to pass that exam. Those taking these tests will also need to demonstrate that they are capable of performing reading, writing and mathematics tasks, in addition to establishing their knowledge about the three subject areas.

Step 2: Complete Education Requirements

As part of the traditional process of earning the Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS) to teach preschool through grade 3 in New Jersey, it's necessary to earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Preschool teachers are expected to earn 60 liberal arts credits during their undergraduate studies. Liberal arts includes mathematics, literature, science and history, as well as a number of other subjects. In addition to the liberal arts credit requirements, they must also complete a course that satisfies the physiology and hygiene requirement if they don't have military training. The physiology and hygiene requirement can be covered with a course from a subject area such as nutrition or health. This requirement can also be satisfied by passing a true or false test that has 35 questions.

CEAS applicants must also complete a teacher preparation program. This can be included as part of their studies towards their bachelor's degree or they may opt to take a teacher preparation program after earning their degree. Approved teacher preparation programs ensure that applicants have an academic foundation from completing education studies in human development, how children learn and the structure of early childhood curricula. They also involve student teaching assignments so that graduates have practical experience before entering the teaching profession.

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Step 3: Pass edTPA Certification Test

CEAS applicants must take the edTPA. This is an evaluation of the individual's practical teaching skills. For the 2017-2018 school year, teacher candidates must complete the edTPA but have no passing score requirement they need to meet. Those who take the test during the 2018-2019 school year must score within one standard error below the national recommended score. As of the 2019-2020 school year, New Jersey will introduce their own passing score requirements for the edTPA.

Step 4: Pass Early Childhood Education Praxis

A minimum grade of 156 is needed to pass the Early Childhood Education Praxis exam as long as the applicant graduated from college with a 3.0 GPA. For those who have a GPA of 2.75 or higher, but less than 3.0, certification is still possible if they can earn a score of 172 on this exam. Applicants that graduated with a 3.5 GPA only need to earn 148 on the Praxis.

The Early Childhood Education Praxis takes two hours to complete. The test is comprised of 120 selected-response questions that cover main subject areas, such as mathematics, science, social studies and language and literacy. The questions are designed to establish that applicants have the content knowledge of the main subject areas needed to teach children in preschool through grade 3. The applicant's ability to effectively teach these subjects is also assessed. Health and physical education knowledge and teaching skills are also covered on this exam, as are those involving creative and performing arts concepts.

Step 5: Apply For Certification

Applicants must gather all the required documentation needed to be eligible for certification. This includes a completed oath of allegiance form, a record of professional experience and their college transcripts. These documents must be sent to the New Jersey State Department of Education, along with an application form and the application fee of $170.

Teacher Certification Resources

Links to study guides that can help you prepare for the tests needed to become a New Jersey preschool teacher are provided here.

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