Gov. Phil Murphy vetoes bill eliminating ‘unnecessary’ teaching certification

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy speaks in front of an American flag.

File photo: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks to reporters during a briefing in Trenton, N.J., Feb. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed a bill on Thursday that would have eliminated a controversial requirement for new teachers.

To obtain a certification to teach in New Jersey, educators must pass a Board of Education-approved performance-based assessment known as “edTPA.”

The prerequisite is unpopular among many teaching candidates, with some calling it cumbersome and redundant. Lawmakers unanimously passed legislation to remove it, amid a nationwide teacher shortage.

Murphy, who said many states no longer use edTPA assessments, still thinks prospective teachers should take a performance-based evaluation.

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He recommends shifting the responsibility of administering an alternative assessment from the state Board of Education to educator preparation programs, or EPPs.

EEPs can be carried out by colleges and universities, school districts, consortia, or other state-approved institutions, according to the Department of Education.

“I wholeheartedly agree that the current edTPA requirement for teaching candidates is counterproductive and should be eliminated, but also believe that other types of performance-based assessments can ensure that teaching candidates are ready to enter the classroom,” Murphy said in a statement. “My recommended changes, which come after months of productive discussions with stakeholders, allow educator preparation programs to select the performance-based assessment that best suits the needs of their students.”

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Groups like the New Jersey Education Association had called on state leaders to eliminate the requirement for many years.

“Gov. Murphy’s conditional veto … preserves the core objective we have sought for six years — the elimination of edTPA as a requirement for teacher certification in New Jersey,” said NJEA officers, President Sean Spiller, Vice-President Steve Beatty, and Secretary-Treasurer Petal Robertson, in a joint statement.

“EdTPA is a costly, discriminatory, and unnecessary obstacle to teacher certification at a time when New Jersey schools are in dire need of qualified teachers. Eliminating it is a victory for all future educators who will not be saddled with a requirement that enriches [assessment firm] Pearson but does nothing to benefit New Jersey’s public school students.”

Gene Lepore, executive director of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities echoed the NJEA.

“We are pleased to see that the Governor’s recommendations preserve the autonomy of the colleges and universities to assess the performance of their teacher candidates. This is a process they engage in on an ongoing basis through classroom observations and as required by accreditation bodies. This legislation will simply eliminate an additional mandate that is costly and burdensome,” Lepore said.

Eliminating edTPA is just one of several initiatives to expand the pool of eligible teachers in New Jersey.

Last year, some lawmakers had hoped to pass legislation that would have ended the state’s residency requirement for public school employees.

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