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Ruiz, Turner Bill to Create Teacher Residency Program Advances

Trenton – In an effort to diversify the state’s educator workforce the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee advanced legislation today to establish a teacher residency program.

“We have been working hard for the past several years to foster an educator workforce that reflects the diversity of our state,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex). “This legislation will aim to further that goal, by providing an alternate route for prospective teachers and allowing them to gain real world experience while completing their bachelor’s degree. Similar programs have proven to not only increase diversity but also produce high quality teachers who are more likely to stay with their residency district long term.”

The bill, S-2833, would offer stipends and provide participants with the education and field experience necessary to obtain a New Jersey certificate of eligibility with advance standing, a credential that allows an individual to seek and accept employment as a public school teacher.

“This legislation will provide an enriching and accessible pathway towards a lifelong career in education,” said Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “For college students pursuing a degree in education, student teaching is a required step; however, it is unpaid and takes up a significant amount of time which would conflict with having a part-time job. With this bill, high school students who aspire to become teachers could receive stipends for their residency, allowing them to earn money while gaining relevant career experience and working towards their degree.”

School districts would partner with accredited colleges to provide participants with the education and field experience needed to obtain the certificate. Participants would be provided an annual stipend for completing the combination of course and fieldwork.

Under the bill, the program would be open to public high school students entering Grade 12 and non-certificated staff, including paraprofessionals, with a minimum of 60 college credits or an associate’s degree who are employed in a public school.

The program would be divided into three stages, with stage one being geared towards high school students gaining an associate’s degree and paraprofessional certification. Qualified non-certificated staff would join in for stages two and three, as participants work towards a bachelor’s degree and teaching certification, while participating in field work.