There is a multi-step process for becoming certified as a School Library Media Specialist or Associate School Library Media Specialist. The process is now similar to the process for teaching certification. Those new to the K-12 certifications process may find it counterintuitive because it requires students to work at a job before obtaining the standard certificate. Once coursework is complete, students are eligible to be hired in an initial job, and after some work experience can be permanently certified. If students complete the coursework but are never employed as a school librarian, a standard (permanent) certificate will not be earned.
In general, the certification process in New Jersey for someone who completes an MI program typically includes the following steps:
- File for a CE/CEAS and receive a transcript review from the DOE outlining courses you must still complete (if any).
- Go on job interviews and receive a written job offer.
- Submit the CE/CEAS form and job offer to the DOE to receive provisional certification.
To file properly, the employing school must send a letter, on official school letterhead, to the Department of Education stating that a student has been hired and the effective date of hire. The Department of Education then issues the provisional certificate based on the information in that letter. A provisional certificate is a two-year certification issued to candidates who have met the requirements for initial employment (holder of a CE or CEAS), are employed, and are enrolled as part of a state-approved residency leading to standard certification.
- Begin paid employment under provisional certification.
- Complete any required coursework during your provisional period.
You may actually begin this coursework before beginning employment. If you have a CE, you must complete the education courses during the provisional year. Note that if you have obtained a CE because you have an MLS in a non-school area Additionally, during the provisional period, you must work under the supervision of a certified school administrator, principal or supervisor. You will have a state-approved written residency agreement with the school, and the supervisor should make sure your year includes the following:
"…professional experiences in the delivery of instruction in information literacy skills and the development and coordination of school library media programs and resources. In addition the residency includes the delivery of instruction in the evaluation, selection, organization, distribution, creation and utilization of school library media. Where possible, the candidate shall be mentored by an experienced school library media specialist throughout the residency."
The supervisor is responsible for making sure you have appropriate support and opportunities. You may renew the provisional certification if coursework is not complete within the two-year timeframe. Renewed provisional certifications are valid for another two years.
- Have performance evaluated.
Assuming all coursework is complete, a supervisor must formally evaluate your performance and make a recommendation for certification using a state-approved form. The supervisor is legally obliged to discuss the evaluation with you and both you and your supervisor must sign it before submission to the DOE. The evaluation includes an assessment of whether the supervisor feels that (a) You should be approved for standard certification, called "approved;" (b) You should be allowed to continue working under provisional certification, called "insufficient" (if you receive a second "insufficient" at the end of the following provisional period, the residency cannot continue); or (c) You should not receive a standard certificate, called "disapproved;" (a student who is disapproved cannot continue working under provisional certification).
- You can have the supervisor make a recommendation for standard certification at the end of the first year if qualified, or at any time thereafter that you qualify, within two years of the certification, or within the following two years if the certificate is renewed.
- Earn standard certification.
Once a supervisor approves your certification, the DOE will issue a standard certificate. The standard certification is a lifetime certification and does not have to be renewed. If a supervisor rates you as insufficient or disapproved and you do not agree with the assessment, you may proceed through the appeal process outlined in the N.J.A.C. 6A:9-17.17.
Learn more about the state requirements as determined by the NJ DOE.