NJ EXCEL Frequently Asked Questions

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Eligibility
What is NJEXCEL?

The New Jersey Expedited Certification in Educational Leadership (NJEXCEL) Program is aproved by the New Jersey Department of Education as a non-traditional path leading to Principal and School Administrator certification in lieu of a master’s degree in educational administration and to certification for Supervisor and Director for School Counseling Services in lieu of the 12-credit sequence of graduate courses required by the State.

Who is eligible for NJEXCEL?

Eligibility for NJEXCEL Models 1, 2, and 3 require a minimum of a Master’s Degree in a related educational field related and four years of full-time teaching experience and/or experience as an educational specialist (i.e. school social worker, school psychologist, and counselor).  NOTE:  Long-term substitute positions do not count toward total years expereince.  Candidates must complete a minimum of five years of successful teaching/educational services experience to be eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility as Principal.  

NJEXCEL Model 4 leads to School Administrator certification.  Candidates must hold a minimum of a Master’s Degree, completed five years of successful full-time educational experience under a valid certificate, and hold a NJ Certificate of Eligibility for Principal or Standard Certificate as Principal. Individuals who have a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and serve as a Business Administrator/Board Secretary for at least five year are eligible for the program.

What NJEXCEL Model suits my experience and career goals?

NJEXCEL’s program models are designed to match each individual’s educational and professional experience with a path to certification to meet their career goals. The models are briefly described below.

NJEXCEL Model 1:  This model is for practicing supervisors with at least five years of supervisory experience.  It leads to a NJ Certificate of Eligibility for Principal (and certification for Director of School Counseling Services*) upon completion of the instructional components, including field-based experiences and internship, along with a passing score on the state-required test for Principal Certification (School Leader Licensure Assessment/SLLA).

NJEXCEL Model 2:  This model is for classroom teachers and educational specialists holding supervisor certification and practicing supervisors with less than five years of supervisory experience.  It leads to a NJ Certificate of Eligibility for Principal (and certification for Director of School Counseling Services*) upon completion of the instructional components, including field-based experiences and internships, along with a passing score on the state-required test for Principal Certification (School Leader Licensure Assessment/SLLA).

NJEXCEL Model 3: This model is for classroom teachers and educational specialists with at least four years of full-time experience.  It leads to  NJ certification for Supervisor*, Certificate of Eligibility for Principal, and Director of School Counseling Services* upon completion of instructional components, including plus field-based experiences and internships, along with a passing score on the state-required test for Principal Certification (School Leader Licensure Assessment/SLLA).

NJ EXCEL Model #4: For individuals who have a Certificate of Eligibility for Principal, a Standard Principal Certificate; leads to New Jersey Certificate of Eligibility for School Administrator upon completion of a project-based School Administrator Internship and a passing score on the State-required test for School Administrator Certification (School Superintendent Assessment/SSA).

* NOTE: (1) Eligibility for Director of School Counseling Services Certification requires a master’s degree in school counseling and a minimum of three years of counselor experience; (2) The State does not require a test for certification as Supervisor or Director of School Counseling Services.
 

Do I have to wait until I have five years of experience as a teacher and/or educational specialist before I can apply to NJ EXCEL Model 2 or Model 3?

The NJDOE requires that you have completed at least five years of full-time experience as a teacher and/or educational specialist in order to be eligible for a NJ Principal CE.  Therefore, all NJEXCEL candidates must have completed at least four years of full-time teaching/educational specialist experience so that this requirement can be met by the end of their respective programs.

 

If I have a master's degree in a related educational field that is not specific to a content area in the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS), such as special education or pupil personnel services, am I eligible?

Yes.

If I am certified as a supervisor and have supervisory experience in another state, am I eligible?

It depends.  If you do not currently hold a NJ Supervisor certificate, you would need to request the NJDOE to evaluate your credentials for reciprocity, which in turn would determine your eligibility for the program.   If eligible, the out-of-state supervisory/teaching years of experience can be acceptable to meet admission requirements.  

Can experience as a department head, coordinator, or similar position count as supervisory experience?

Yes, as long as the position, regardless of title, requires supervisor certification with responsibilities typical of the supervisory role (e.g. staff supervision, curriculum and professional development, program and coordination).

Do I have to be a member of NJPSA to apply to NJEXCEL?

No, you do not have to be an NJPSA member to apply.   However, once accepted, you will automatically become an NJPSA “Aspiring School Leader” member if you are not a supervisor and are not already a regular member. The cost of Aspiring School Leaders Membership is included in your tuition. 

For NJEXCEL Model 1, do I need five years of full-time experience as a Supervisor or can it be part-time?
State code requires five years of successful full-time experience as a supervisor of an instructional area or department related to the New Jersey Core Student Learning Standards under a valid supervisor certificate to be eligible for principal certification upon completion of NJEXCEL Model 1. Therefore, you may apply to NJEXCEL with at least four (4) years of supervisory experience if you will complete your fifth year by the end of the NJEXCEL Program. The required five years of supervisory experience is determined based on the job's requirement for supervisor certification and the nature of the responsibilities of the position you hold, regardless of title. For example, if your position requires supervisor certification and includes both supervisory and teaching responsibilities, it would be considered full-time.
Application Process
Do I need to bring a formal portfolio to the interview? What if I don’t have one?

Please bring some samples of your work that exemplify your leadership, supervisory and/or teaching practice, and your knowledge of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and student learning.

When will I complete my writing sample and task analysis?

The Writing Sample And Task Analysis will be e-mailed to you prior to your interview. You will complete it and bring it with you to the interview.

 

Certification
Am I eligible for State principal and/or school administrator certification when I complete NJEXCEL?

You will be eligible for a NJ Certificate of Eligibility (CE) for Principal upon completion of NJEXCEL Models 1, 2, or 3 and receiving a passing score on the state-required standardized assessment for principal (SLLA). You will be eligible for a NJ Certificate of Eligibility (CE) for School Administrator upon completion of NJ EXCEL Model 4 and also receiving a passing score on the state-required standardized assessment for school administrator (SSA). The CE for Principal allows you to be hired as a principal, assistant principal, or director. The CE for School Administrator allows you to be hired as a Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent. Once hired into one of the positions requiring the CE, the state then requires that you obtain provisional certification and complete a 1-2 year Residency to be eligible for standard principal or school administrator certification.

Does NJEXCEL provide any special support to help me pass the certification test?

The NJEXCEL curriculum is designed to provide ongoing learning experiences that mirror the SLLA and SSA problem-solving exercises (i.e. case studies, vignettes, and scenarios). NJEXCEL also offers a special series of SLLA Prep sessions and SSA Prep sessions, which review the process of each test. SLLA and SSA Prep Sessions are offered at no additional charge to NJEXCEL candidates.

If I get a Certificate of Eligibility through NJEXCEL and don’t take a position right away, is there a limit to the number of years the CE is valid?

No, NJ state code does not indicate an expiration period for the certificate of eligibility.

Am I eligible for supervisor certification when I complete NJEXCEL?

The requirements for NJ supervisor certification are included within NJEXCEL Model 3. There is no state test for supervisor certification. Candidates must have at least three years of educational experience before applying for the supervisory certificate. Most candidates will be eligible to apply approximately one year after starting NJEXCEL. 

Am I eligible for certification for Director of School Counseling Services when I complete NJEXCEL?

The requirements for NJ certification for Director of School Counseling Services are included within NJ EXCEL Models 1, 2, and 3. Eligibility for this certification requires certification for guidance counselor and a minimum of three years of school counseling experience. There is no state test for certification for Director of School Counseling Services.

How do I apply for certification when I am finished with NJEXCEL?

FEA will process your application for your certifications upon completion of all NJEXCEL requirements, along with a passing score on the SLLA/SAA.  You are responsible for completing the application and paying the required NJDOE fee for each certificate.  

Internships
How do NJEXCEL Internships work?

To meet the State requirement for a 300-hours field-based leadership experience NJEXCEL requires a range of internship experiences with multiple mentors. The purpose of the field-based experiences and internships for all NJEXCEL Models is to provide authentic, field-based, hands-on experiences under the mentorship of an exemplary practitioner. School-Based and Supervisory Internships are planned to meet each candidate’s needs based on prior experiences and professional growth targets. A School-Based Internship (90 hours) with a Principal mentor is required for Models 1, 2 and 3. A Supervisory Internship (30 hours) with a Supervisor mentor is also required for Model 3. Model 4 requires field-based internships at the district level with a School Administrator Internship (150 hours) with a superintendent/assistant superintendent mentor.

How am I placed in the Internships?

NJEXCEL considers, first and foremost, an Internship placement that best meets your professional growth needs. However, on a case by case basis, consideration is also given to other areas (i.e. logistics, schedule and responsibilities in current position, teaching responsibilities). Final placement decisions are made by the NJEXCEL Field-Based Programs Coordinator in consultation with each candidate.

How will my Internships be scheduled?

Internship schedules are flexible. The exact schedule will be determined by the candidate and Internship Mentor(s) based on the types of experiences that best meet professional growth targets, required performance tasks, and Internship Project(s) to be completed.

How are schools and mentors selected?

Internship sites and Internship Mentors are selected and considered for approval based upon multiple factors.  Candidates typically suggest a school and/or mentor/s to be considered for NJEXCEL approval.  The goal is to help ensure that both the district/school and Internship Mentor will provide the best experience possible.  

Are the I/S mentor fees included in the NJEXCEL tuition?

I/S mentor fees are not included in program tuition.  These fees  are paid directly to the mentors by the candidate.   

E-Mentor and Field Supervisor fees are included in program tuition.

Faculty
Who teaches NJEXCEL classes?

NJEXCEL’s instructors, e-mentors, and field supervisors are accomplished professionals with exemplary credentials as practitioners in a range of school and district leadership positions, as well as accomplished reputations as researchers and university professors in the field of educational leadership.
 

Who are the mentors for the Internship?

A. Mentors for school-based internships are practicing principals, and mentors for school administrator internships are practicing superintendents and assistant superintendents. Supervisory mentors for supervisory internships are practicing supervisors or administrators with supervisory experience. All mentors are selected using standards to identify exemplary district/school leaders and supervisors based on their professional accomplishments and evidence of their districts’/schools’ and/or programs’ effectiveness.

Graduate Credit
Can I receive graduate credit for completing NJEXCEL?

NJEXCEL candidates are eligible to receive graduate credit from Thomas Edison State University (TESU) upon full completion of the NJEXCEL program.    As of 2018, TESU’s academic program review of  NJEXCEL recommended the following credits:  Model  1 = Total 34 credits; Model 2 = Total 38 credits;  Model 3 = Total 51 credits; Model 4 = Total 15 credits.  Candidates may apply for an official transcript (TESU fee applies) upon full program completion.

Thomas Edison Unviersity's Master’s in Educational Administration requires 36 credits. NJEXCEL graduates may apply 18 credit hours earned in NJEXCEL toward the attainment of a Master’s at TESU after they have completed the NJEXCEL program if they are interested in attaining a second Master’s degree.

Three universities will permit the transfer of credits from NJEXCEL toward their doctoral programs in educational leadership:

  • Rutgers University - 6 Credits
  • Rowan Unviersity - 6 Credits 
  • Centenary University - 9 credits 

Fees from the respective universities may apply.  

 

Enrollment & Location
What is the enrollment per cohort?

The average enrollment for each cohort is 10-25. However, additional candidates may be accepted. Regardless of the cohort size, candidates are divided into small Inquiry Groups (peer study groups) to optimize opportunities for collaboration, dialogue, and ongoing support by an E-Mentor assigned to each Inquiry Group.

When and where do Inquiry Groups meet?

Inquiry Groups are assigned according to region (north, central, south) and meet on a regular basis at a location in their region that group members determine with their E-Mentor. Inquiry Group meetings are scheduled within the total number of required instructional hours. E-Mentors meet with their Inquiry Groups and provide ongoing support and guidance throughout the program. Inquiry Groups meet a total of 24 hours for Models 1 and 2, 33 hours for Model 3, and 24 hours for Model 4.

If enrollment for one of the cohort classes is too low, what happens?

The cohort will likely be cancelled and candidates will be referred to another cohort if space is available.

Tuition
How much is the tuition for each NJEXCEL Model?

Effective January 2020 Cohorts the program tuition is:

Model 1:  $8,300.00, plus book costs, $650.00 I-Mentor fee paid directly to the mentor by the candidate, ASCD membership to ASCD, and SLLA fee to ETS

Model 2:  $8,900.00, plus book costs, $1050.00 I/SMentor fees paid directly to the mentor by the candidate, ASCD membership to ASCD, and SLLA fee to ETS

Model 3:  $11,500.00, plus book costs and $1400 I/SMentor fees paid directly to the mentor by the candidate, ASCD membership to ASCD, and SLLA fee to ETS

FEA is committed to making the NJEXCEL Program as affordable as possible. As a self-funded program, NJEXCEL tuition is established based on program operation costs, which may vary from year to year. Therefore, FEA reserves the right to increase tuition as needed to maintain program quality.
 

How much is the first payment on the tuition and when is it due?

The first tuition payment for NJEXCEL Models 1, 2, and 3 is $2500, which is payable within ten days following notification of acceptance to the program. Remaining tuition payments are paid in equal monthly installments. The first tuition payment for NJEXCEL Model #4 is $1500 with the second and final payment due within 6 months. FEA accepts checks or credit card for tuition payments.

Are books included in the tuition?

Book costs are not included in tuition and are an additional charge (approximately $300).  NJEXCEL carefully selects current books that are cost-effective and practitioner-oriented, and which will contribute to a significant personal/professional library.  Candidates are also required to obtain an ASCD Premium Online Membership at their own expense.   

Are costs for the state-required licensure test and applications for certification included in the tuition?

No, the costs related to state-required tests and application for certifications are the responsibility of each candidate.

Will I be eligible to receive reimbursement for NJEXCEL tuition from my school district?

Tuition reimbursement depends on your district's policies and bargaining agreement and varies.  Many districts accept letters/information from NJEXCEL for verification of enrollment. If your district requires graduate credit for reimbursement, transcripts are available through Thomas Edison State University upon full completion of the NJEXCEL program.

Is it possible to get financial aid to pay for this program?

FEA is not eligible for federal loans that may be available through higher education institutions.  Candidates may receive a tuition discount by paying tuition in full prior to the start of the program.  Otherwise, NJEXCEL offers candidates an interest-free monthly payment plan.

 

Requirements
What is the NJEXCEL curriculum like? Are there exams, term papers, etc. required in NJEXCEL?

NJEXCEL is a standards-driven, performance-based program for experienced educators. As such, its emphasis is on field-based and job-embedded experiences, professional growth, and leadership performance as measured by the New Jersey Professional Standards for School Leaders. Given this emphasis and current research in leadership development and adult learning strategies, NJEXCEL is designed to provide authentic, problem-based learning experiences in an inquiry-focused, project-based curriculum that emphasizes collaboration and dialogue in the examination of leadership and instructional practices.

NJEXCEL Models 1, 2, and 3 include class sessions and special institutes, technology training sessions, Inquiry Group meetings, and online mini-courses. All models require one or more field-based Internships that address specific professional growth needs, and one or more Internship and job-embedded projects. There are no traditional tests or exams. Multiple, performance-based assessments are used throughout all models.

NJ EXCEL Models 1, 2, and 3 require a minimum of 21 hours of technology training, which is included in the total required instructional hours. The technology requirement helps ensure all candidates have at least a basic level of proficiency in the use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Web resources. Technology is also integrated throughout the program to enhance candidates' understanding related to the use of technologies to enhance staff productivity, teaching, and learning. Each candidate engages in customized technology training based on his/her technology self-assessment and is provided with ongoing support and special sessions for tutoring and guided practice. NJEXCEL also makes web-based technology tutorials available to all candidates for independent online training to enhance technology skills, which is included in tuition fees.

NJEXCEL Model 4 is a field-based model, which requires a 150-hour Internship under the mentorship of a Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent, 24+ hours of Inquiry Group meetings, and one Action Research Project. There are no formal weekly classes in Model 4.

NJEXCEL candidates are provided with accounts to NJ EXCEL’s Online Learning Community and actively participate in ongoing electronic communication, e-mentoring, networking, sharing resources, discussion boards, instant messaging, and announcements.