TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan. Jr., to encourage more of New Jersey’s teachers to take part in educational leadership roles was signed into law last Friday.

The sponsor notes the purpose of the new law is to establish a teacher leader endorsement program to identify the skills, knowledge and requirements necessary to fulfill leadership roles in school districts. Teacher leaders will serve as coaches, mentors and facilitators of professional learning.

 “The opportunity to grow within your profession is important to any individual,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex), the chairman of the Assembly Education Committee. “Teachers taking on leadership roles, serving as experts, supporting decision-making in school and being a resource to fellow teachers is a critical factor in our maintaining excellence in an ever-changing educational environment.”

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The new law (formerly A-448) establishes a Teacher Leader Endorsement Advisory Board in the Department of Education. The board is tasked with creating a set of recommended requirements for educators to complete in order to be eligible to become a teacher leader. Once the requirements are implemented by the DOE, the advisory board would help oversee the process, making recommendations to improve or adjust the qualification requirements and assess the overall effectiveness of the program.

Within five years, the board would be required to make recommendations to the DOE and the State Board of Education regarding non-supervisory roles and responsibilities for which a teacher leader endorsement should be required.

In order to be eligible for the teacher leader endorsement, an applicant will be required to: complete a program of study equivalent to, at a minimum, 12 graduate credits or 180 clock hours; and complete five years of full-time teaching under a valid provisional or standard certificate, or a combination thereof, issued by the State Board of Examiners.

The new law allows for state colleges and universities, educational organizations or other non-profit entities – or any combination thereof – to apply through the DOE to offer a program of study that would enable educators to be eligible for a teacher leader endorsement.