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Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic


TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz authorizing a teacher leader endorsement to a teacher’s instructional certificate was signed into law today.


Under the law (S-165), the “teacher leader” endorsement is intended to create pathways for teachers seeking to advance as leaders within their school districts while remaining in the classroom. To be eligible for the endorsement, an applicant must complete a program of study with an approved provider for the teacher leader endorsement.


“A teacher leader is someone who ‘goes the extra mile’ to help not only his or her students but other teachers with less experience to make a profound difference in their students’ lives,” said Senator Whelan (D-Atlantic). “Schools are at the center of a child’s educational and recreational life and play a significant role in the prospects of a student’s future success. Experienced teachers recognize this, and find ways to meaningfully connect with and mentor students and other teachers so they can achieve long term success. This endorsement will further encourage teachers to continue leading the way.”


The law also establishes an 11-member Teacher Leader Endorsement Advisory Board in the Department of Education to make recommendations to the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education regarding the eligibility requirements for receiving the teacher leader endorsement and the program of study for the teacher leader endorsement. The recommendations regarding the program of study may include field experiences and additional coursework acquired beyond the standards. The Advisory Board is also tasked with making recommendations for necessary adjustments to the program of study for the teacher leader endorsement, assessing outcomes, and considering emergent research and best practices in teacher leadership.


“Those who advocate for improving student learning through collaboration and sharing of best teaching practices merit distinction. The teacher leader endorsement allows us to recognize those individuals who go above and beyond for their leadership and dedication to promoting ongoing learning and professional development,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex).


Teachers with the specialized endorsement would be expected to demonstrate the ability to foster a collaborative culture to support educator development and student learning, and support collaborative team structures, including professional learning communities. They would also exemplify the use of research to improve upon best practices for student learning, and promote continuous professional development.


“Teacher leaders understand the evolving nature of teaching and learning, and use established and emerging technologies in the school community to facilitate improvements in instruction and student learning,” added Senator Whelan.


Under the law, a teacher leader would also be expected to coach and work collaboratively with colleagues to ensure that instructional practices are aligned to a shared mission, vision, and goals, and would promote the use of assessments and data for school and district improvement.


“Promoting an environment of trust, respect, and collegiality amongst teachers is critical to advancing instruction and student learning. These qualities help to create leaders among teachers and strengthen communities,” added Senator Ruiz.


Teacher leaders would also embody dedication to improving outreach and collaboration with families and community, understanding that families, cultures, and communities have a significant impact on student success. Through systematic collaboration with families, community members, business and community leaders, and other stakeholders, teacher leaders are expected to improve the educational system and expand student learning opportunities to support student success.


The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 33-0 and the Assembly with a vote of 75-0. It takes effect 90 days after the date of enactment.