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Successful Pilot Program Has Increased Number of NJ Physics Teachers by Over 400%

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey will celebrate the success of legislation she sponsored two years ago, known as the “Traders to Teachers Act,” by attending the graduation ceremony for the Progressive Science Initiative where 60 new physics and chemistry teachers will graduate.

The graduation will be held on Saturday, June 25, at 11 a.m. at Bergen County Technical Schools Teterboro Campus, located at 504 Route 46 West and Central Avenue, Teterboro.

Jasey’s legislation was designed to help fast track the training of unemployed Wall Street traders and pharmaceutical employees to fill critical teacher shortages in the areas of math and science.

The NJ Center for Teaching and Learning (NJCTL), a program funded and run by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), has worked in partnership with Kean University to create the Progressive Science Initiative (PSI), the pilot program that was born out of Jasey’s legislation.

“This law has produced demonstrable results in filling some of our most pressing gaps in education,” said Jasey (D-Essex). “It truly is a win-win. This legislation has helped us meet critical education needs to better prepare our students to compete in the new global economy, while also helping those hit hard by the recession find a productive means of employment. With the success of the science component, I’m pleased to announce that the program is now being expanded to train mathematics teachers.”

Jasey noted that the PSI initiative has helped increase the creation of physics teachers in New Jersey by an astounding 438 percent in the last two years. In the eight years prior to the creation of PSI, all of the colleges and universities in New Jersey produced a combined average of 8 physics teachers per year.

However, in the two years since NJCTL and Kean University came together to work on PSI, the program has produced 70 physics teachers and 25 chemistry teachers. All told, the program will have impacted 20,000 New Jersey high school students by next year.

NJCTL also uses the tools in the legislation to provide training to give other content teachers the expertise to teach physics. As Jasey noted, the program is now in the process of being replicated to train mathematics teachers to address the critical shortage in this area as well.

On June 25th, 60 teachers will be graduating the Physics and Chemistry Endorsement Program. During the event, Assemblywoman Jasey will be honored for her legislation, which directly contributed to the existence of the program.

“To put this in context, the state certified one new physics teacher last year. All other teachers have been certified as a result of this program, and the number of certified physics teachers has quadrupled,” added Jasey.

Also expected to be on hand for the graduation is Jo Anderson, the senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Acting New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, and Joyce Powell from the NJEA Executive Committee.

Jasey recently held a hearing of the Joint Committee on the Public Schools to track the progress of the program. During the hearing, presentations were given, including one by Dr. Robert Goodman from the NJCTL, who designed the program.

Dr. Goodman travels all over the country demonstrating the program and how it can be implemented. Due to his efforts, the program is now being replicated in other states and around the world.