N.J. Board of Education’s Latest Move Aims to Get More Bilingual Teachers

This month, the New Jersey Board of Education agreed to lower the written proficiency test score required to become an English as a second language (ESL) teacher.

The Board of Education hopes to solve the shortage of bilingual teachers in the state, a complaint that was voiced as the number of ESL students in New Jersey rose from 55,000 in 2010-2011 to 70,000 in 2015-2016. They expect the number of teachers to increase by 10 to 15 percent.

Currently, bilingual teachers are required to score in the “advanced low” level in both English and the language they will teach. The scores are measured, from lowest to highest, as “novice,” “intermediate,” “advanced” and “superior.”

With the new requirements, these educators will need to score in the “advanced low” level for one of the languages and score in the “intermediate high” level for the other.

Mark Biedron, president of the Board of Education, said the board doesn’t expect the quality of bilingual teachers to decrease with the scoring requirement change.

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