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Many New Jersey school districts are struggling to find qualified math and science teachers; subjects that are arguably among the most important in the high school curriculum.
In response to the ever-declining pool of qualified candidates, the non-profit New Jersey Center
for Teaching and Learning (NJCTL) has developed a number of state-approved pathways to
becoming a teacher of these critical subjects, as school districts prepare for the 2023-24 school
Some pathways are for anyone with a bachelor’s degree in any subject, with any GPA. Others
are for those with bachelor’s degrees in the subject they want to teach and have a GPA of 3.0
or better. There are also routes available for certified New Jersey educators eager to teach
Regardless of the pathway, all NJCTL courses and programs are 100% online and asynchronous;
most lead to a Master of Science in Teaching and Learning; and all have a tuition of under
“Many teachers have left the profession, and fewer are entering it, leaving school
administrators scrambling, with students bearing the brunt of this teacher shortage,” explained
Robert Goodman, executive director, NJCTL.
Faced with a STEM teacher shortage, administrators must decide whether to deprive students
of a class they may need or get them into a class by increasing class sizes, having unqualified
staff or substitutes covering classes; or overloading teachers by assigning them extra sections.
“None of these scenarios are ideal,” Goodman noted.
All NJCTL’s pathways are based on more than a decade of proven courses and programs which
have helped fill New Jersey classrooms with qualified STEM teachers. During that time, NJCTL
taught current teachers of any subject the content – and how to teach the content – of a STEM
subject so that they could become highly qualified to teach it. No prior background in that
STEM subject was needed.
This proved successful: more than 430 teachers have completed a program to teach a new
STEM subject and NJCTL is now the top producer of physics teachers in the United States.
Versions of those courses and programs are now being used to provide two new pathways for
prospective teachers in New Jersey.
The first is a Traditional Alternate Route program for those with a bachelor’s degree (or 30
credits) in the subject they want to teach and a GPA of at least 3.0. The second is a “Shortage
Area Alternate Route” program for those possessing a bachelor’s degree in any subject, with
any GPA. Either path results in candidates becoming a teacher of physics, mathematics,
chemistry, or biology and earning a Master of Science in Teaching and Learning.
These programs provide a practical, affordable gateway for education support professionals
and substitute teachers to quickly ascend the salary guide, changing their lives and the lives of
NJCTL’s courses and programs are designed to accommodate working professionals. Teaching
candidates can start anytime and proceed at their own pace. There are no class meetings; all
work is asynchronous so there are no scheduled classes to fit into a schedule.
The cost of each program, including the master’s degree, is kept below $6,900 because of
NJCTL’s low graduate tuition rate of $180 per credit.
NJCTL keeps its tuition low because of New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) support and a
focus on investing solely in courses and programs. As an online institution, NJCTL does not need
to spend tuition dollars on facilities, debt services, sports teams, landscaping and maintenance,
“Our spending is completely focused on teaching and learning, which is consistent with being
the only graduate school of education founded and supported by a union of public-school
employees, the NJEA,” Goodman said.
Because of NJEA’s ongoing support, union members receive a 20% discount on NJCTL tuition,
reducing the tuition rate to $144 per credit. NJCTL is a licensed New Jersey Graduate School of
Education seeking accreditation.
Learn more at NJCTL.org
Jonathan Jaffe is president & CEO of Jaffe Communications, Inc. of Cranford, NJ, which provides media relations services for the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning.