(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Patrick Diegnan and Nancy Pinkin (Both D-Middlesex) to ensure all elementary school physical and health education teachers are appropriately certified and trained to teach K-6 grade levels was approved earlier this week by the Senate.
Under current law, in order to teach health and physical education in grades kindergarten through six in a public school, a teacher is not required to have these specific endorsements to the instructional certificate. A teacher with an elementary school endorsement, under certain regulations, would be permitted to teach these courses.
The sponsors note that the intent of this legislation (A-3256) is to ensure that all health and physical education instruction at public schools is provided by individuals who have received comprehensive content and pedagogical training.
“There are specific instructional guidelines which apply to teaching students in the lower grade levels,” Diegnan said. “We want to make sure our health and physical education teaching professionals are providing appropriate instruction for the grade level they teach.”
“Health and physical education requirements are dramatically different from elementary grade levels to that of middle school or high school,” Pinkin said. “This legislation helps us to ensure our health and gym teachers are properly prepared to help their students meet educational requirements suitable for the age group.”
In order to do this, the bill will require teachers appointed to teach these subjects in grades kindergarten through six to possess the appropriate endorsement to their instructional certificate. The bill, however, includes a ‘grandfather’ provision that will allow teachers who received an elementary school endorsement prior to the effective date of the bill, to continue to be permitted to teach health and physical education at these grade levels.
The bill was approved 27-0 by the Senate on March 16. It was previously approved by the full Assembly, but since it was amended by the Senate, it must now come back to the full Assembly for final legislative approval.