A move by the state Department of Education to raise the grade requirements for students studying to become teachers is good news. Standards for teachers should be high.

The better news is that many of the state's teacher-training programs already meet or exceed the new standards.

Regulations proposed at a state Board of Education meeting this month would require prospective teachers graduating from college to have a grade-point average of 3.0, up from 2.75. That's a B average. Students entering teacher education programs would also need a 3.0 GPA, up from 2.5.

That certainly seems like a reasonable standard. Besides, because of the intense competition for teacher jobs, this change has already been happening on its own.

Many colleges have become more selective when admitting new students into teaching programs. They have to be, because school boards have their pick of graduates.

The graduation standards have also increased at many schools, in part because Pennsylvania and Delaware already require a 3.0 GPA for graduates going into teaching.

Other proposed changes would require incoming college students who want to study teaching to either pass a standardized test in basic skills or to have an SAT math/reading score of at least 1120. Beginning in 2016, graduating college seniors would have to pass a performance assessment to get a teaching license.

The proposal includes some flexibility for students in the alternate-route program - usually older students who are looking at teaching as a new career. Some students could enter the program with a GPA lower than 3.0, but they would have to meet that standard to graduate.

The board is expected to approve the changes by January, and the new GPA requirements could go into effect by September 2014.

The move comes amid a national debate about the training teachers receive. Statistics show that only 23 percent of American teachers were among the top third of all college graduates.

New Jersey's schools are among the best in the nation. That's a fact that is sometimes lost when politicians are putting pressure on the New Jersey Education Association, or amid genuine concerns about poorer districts that are failing to adequately educate some students.

But in most places, most schools are doing an excellent job. In test scores, graduation rates and the percentage of high school students who go on to college, New Jersey consistently ranks high.

And for that, you can thank teachers.

We are awash in new education theories and programs, but nothing makes as big a difference in how well children learn than parental involvement and a good teacher.

These new standards should ensure that New Jersey's teachers remain above average.