New Jersey Special Education
The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) and its Office of Special Education Programs oversee all matters regarding teacher licensure and special education services in New Jersey. The NJDOE operates 603 public school districts, consisting of 2,620 public and 81 charter schools, and employs 15,525 special education teachers to staff programs at them. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 16.1 percent of New Jersey students have Individualized Education Programs, which is significantly higher than the national average of 13 percent. The U.S. Department of Education gives New Jersey a rating of “Needs Assistance” in its state-by-state rankings of services to students in special education programs.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Teaching Degrees in New Jersey
Of the over two dozen colleges in New Jersey with special education certification and degree programs, the one at Rutgers is the most well-known. The School of Education’s five-year teacher education programs result in both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as educator certification. Potential special educators can select the special education and elementary education (K-5) track. At the graduate level, Rutgers offers a master’s degree in special education general studies that allows students to obtain New Jersey certification as a learning disabilities teacher consultant or a teacher of students with disabilities. The Certification Program in Special Education Sequence for Teacher of Students with Disabilities concurrently awards a master’s degree and certification as a learning disabilities teacher consultant. In addition, teachers who already hold New Jersey certification can enroll in the Endorsement Program for Special Education.
For profiles of all the schools in New Jersey that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
Candidates who have not completed a teacher preparation program can still qualify to teach in New Jersey through its Alternative Route program. They must first meet the criteria for a Certificate of Eligibility, including verification of pedagogical skills, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, passage of New Jersey educator exams and (for subject area endorsements) sufficient and relevant coursework in a core subject area. After securing a teaching position, candidates enter the Provisional Teaching Program for one year; once they have accumulated the required hours of subject matter instruction, participated in ongoing mentoring and have been evaluated, they can be granted a Standard Certificate.
Special Education Jobs in New Jersey
The NJDOE’s Professional Standards and Learning unit oversees policies regarding continuing education for teachers and offers a variety of professional development opportunities. Its Professional Learning Communities Resources for Educators webpage links to approved webinars, workshops and tutorials for New Jersey educators. The Graduate School of Education at Rutgers coordinates several specialized training programs for education professionals, offered through its Center for Effective School Practices, Center for Literacy Development, National Institute for Early Education Research, Robert B. Davis Institute for Learning, National Writing Project, Rutgers Institute for Improving Student Achievement and the New Jersey Reading Recovery Network.
Special Educator Professional Groups
- The state teacher’s union, the New Jersey Education Association, consists of individuals employed by New Jersey public schools and colleges, as well as retired educators and students preparing to be teachers.
- Interpreting educational policy as it pertains to the special education population is the focus of the NJ State Special Education Advisory Council. This federally-mandated organization consists of community agency stakeholders and parents of students with disabilities.
New Jersey Special Education Blogs
- Disability in Focus: The organizational blog of The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities provides updates on community resources and legislation affecting individuals with disabilities.