New Jersey

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Updated March 16, 1998

New Jersey -

It is instructive to consider what happened in a related program area in New Jersey and the implications of that experience for the later new teacher induction program in the same state. In 1985 the New Jersey Dept. of Education implemented an alternative route to teacher certification called the Provisional Teacher Program (PTP). The PTP was designed with no input or role for higher education and required that local districts must offer all provisionally certified teachers a support team, including a mentor teacher, to provide the needed training in content defined by the State Dept. of Education. The state-defined content for that training was founded on assumptions that teaching was essentially the same task, regardless of grade level or content. This view seems to be an over simplification, but it led the state Dept. of Education to place on the local school district, the full responsibility for training, supervising, and supporting staff who have arrived in classrooms through an alternate route. The state provided no resources to districts to support their training and mentoring of these teachers who had no background or training in teaching. A unique requirement was that provisional teachers had to pay their mentors $900 for their support. Many districts reported that what was required to actually prepare alternately certified teachers for success was considerably more than the state considered and that the districts were found it very difficult to do this task well.

An article in November 1991 clearly lays out the problems that occurred for alternatively certified teachers and local school districts in the PTP. This article reports on the results of two studies done between 1987 and 1989, of the New Jersey PTP system, including what was accomplished (or not) in schools, and a comparison of these results with those routinely attained in a typical student teaching experience. See Smith, J. (1991) "The Alternative Route: Flaws in the New Jersey Plan". Educational Leadership, (49) 3. ASCD. The findings were that alternate route teachers received almost none of the mentoring, supervision, evaluation, or support specified by the state requirements, despite the $900 mentor stipend. The article concluded that the largest users of the PTP were those poorest inner city districts least likely to have the resources needed to meet the requirements. And yet, the New Jersey Dept. of Educ. boasted that 98% of the alternate route teachers were given lifetime teaching certificates at the end of their first year. Apparently state standards were so poorly enforced that it was "impossible... to not be certified". The article closes by saying that the state seemed to care more about quantity than quality, and that the original assumptions of what mentors and support teams in local districts could accomplish without any state support was "at best naive".

Also in 1991 the State Department published two documents intended to clarify and report on the progress attained by the Provisional Teacher Program. See New Jersey State Dept. of Education. (1991). "Provisional Teacher Program Implementation Guidelines", Trenton, NJ: New Jersey State Dept. of Education. which is focused primarily on program development, and also see New Jersey State Dept. of Education. (1991). "Provisional Teacher Program Sixth Year Report", Trenton, NJ: New Jersey State Dept. of Education.

It was in September 1, 1992 that legislation stated that all first year teacher were to be considered "Provisionally Certified". Those which entered their first year of teaching having successfully completed a university teacher education program and passing the National Teacher Exam were consider "Provision Teacher with Advanced Standing".First year teachers entering through alternative route are "Provision Teacher without Advanced Standing". Essentially, this law required that all New Jersey beginning teachers must be provided induction programs and mentoring by their hiring school districts.

The New Jersey Teacher Induction Program (TIP) was linked to the requirements for state certification and to support for new teachers to learn to teach and to successfully meet the state requirements. The legislation made a strong connection made between the desire to improve instruction of students, student learning, and the provision of the TIP. This emphasis placed a heavy burden on mentors and new teachers as well as the district induction programs, to have a strong impact on student learning and to demonstrate that the TIP had that impact. The approach to induction of all new teachers seems to have been based on the same assumptions that led to providing a support team and a mentor, as well as to some of the difficulties in the original Provisional Teacher Program. I wonder if the same high expectations for impact on student learning have been placed on mentoring as was the case on the earlier approach. My concern would be placing such an expectation on induction programs if those programs do not have the needed support to implement the very best practices in mentoring and induction which are known to lead to those desired results. Perhaps the difficulties reported in the original PT Program have been resolved in this later Teacher Induction Program.

Some other program components are that the principal and one other team member must do summative evaluations at 10 week intervals, not the mentor. These evaluations lead to a recommendation concerning continued employment and future certification. Also, the mentor provides orientation and support for learning effective teaching, the curriculum supervisor (also a team member) provides resources, help with instructional strategies, and assistance in development of a personal improvement plan. A university faculty member provides assistance in linking theory to practice and also provides support for professional growth. Support team members are trained by the state and are paid a stipend that ranges from $450-$550. Also the state provides an additional $800 to support providing up to 200 hours of instruction in pedagogy to provisional teachers without advanced standing who have entered teaching through the alternative route.

During the first year of the TIP program (1994) a study compared the performance of beginning teachers who were in a TIP and those who were not. At least during that first year of the program, no significant difference was found in teaching performance for any of the categories of instructional skills in the Teacher Performance Appraisal Survey used in the study. The study suggested that there were initial problems and concerns of new teachers which were addressed by the TIP but that the new program did not yet seem to be effective in improving instruction. This study and conclusion seem a bit premature, for the study itself suggested that better TIP programs, which added on-going coaching and professional development components, would be needed to attain that goal. Of course, such additions are labor intensive, costly to implement, and unexpected in districts with limited resources. See Felton-Montgomery, P.A. (1994). "A Study of New Jersey's Induction Program for Beginning Teachers". unpublished dissertation, Columbia University, Teachers College, New York City.

A state contact person is...

If you are aware of incorrect statements in this material OR if you can add authoritative new information concerning mentoring and induction in the various United States, please contact Barry Sweeny with that information. His e-mail is

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