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By Julian Peeples

California teacher candidates will now have to take two fewer tests to earn a credential if they complete approved coursework, after lawmakers approved the changes as part of the recently adopted Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill, AB 130.   

After combined lobbying efforts by CTA and Student CTA, the approval of AB 130 means teacher candidates will no longer be required to pass the California Basic Skills Test (CBEST) or California Subject Matter Exams for Teachers (CSET) to earn a credential. Almost half of aspiring educators statewide experience trouble passing one or more of the four tests previously required to earn a credential, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) – with 66 percent passing the CBEST on the first attempt in 2019-2020 and 67 percent passing the CSET on the first try. 

“These changes occurred as a result of sustained advocacy by members, leaders and staff, and will help remove obstructions to entering the teaching profession that have disproportionately impacted teacher candidates of color,” says CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “Join me in thanking the Credential and Professional Development Committee and Student CTA for their advocacy and leadership on this important issue.” 

Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 9, AB 130 creates new options for aspiring teachers to meet the Basic Skills Requirement (BSR) and to demonstrate Subject Matter Competence (SMC). Teacher candidates will now be able to meet the BSR by completing qualified college coursework with a grade of B or better in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics. The following options were also added for candidates to demonstrate SMC: 

  • Single Subject Teaching Credential: Complete a college academic major in the subject area of a credential defined in statute.  
  • Multiple Subject Teaching Credential: Complete a college academic program in liberal studies or an interdisciplinary major that covers the content areas of the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. 
  • Education Specialists: The major must meet the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential requirements or be in a subject aligned to authorized CSET examination content areas used for an Education Specialist Credential.  

“As teachers, we often say high stakes state tests are more a snapshot about a student’s test taking skills than an authentic assessment of their mastery,” says Kimberly Nguyen, a member of Hacienda-La Puente Teachers Association. “So, it would make sense that a more authentic assessment of subject competency would be a reasonable alternative.” 

Aspiring educators will still be required to complete the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) and Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) prior to earning a Clear Credential, but testing flexibilities enacted for last school year will be extended for 2021-2022 as part of AB 130. The law further grants authority to the CTC to extend flexibilities related to the RICA, CBEST, and CSET should disruptions continue to impede testing access and availability. 

Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu

The Discussion 6 comments Post a Comment

  1. Alka says...

    Give courses for RICA instead of these exams.
    We are Spending so much money to learn for RIca from outside but still its hard.

  2. Miriam says...

    I have met so many awesome educators that are being substitutes or tutors because they can’t pass the RICA. One of my friends is an amazing teacher at a private school but wanted to work for the district and she can’t until she passes the RICA. So many teachers have told me they would have never been teaching if they had to take the RICA when they got their credential. It is ridiculous all we have to do to teach in California and still get paid less than a UPS driver. I have taken the RICA once and missed it by less than 10 points. I was able to teach last year as a lead 3rd grade teacher and learned so much about reading instruction. Took some paid trainings about language that had RICA lingo and all this time I am thinking “how did they want me to pass a test of something I have never been exposed to doing?” I do hope they come to their senses and take this exam away, replace it with a course and teach us what they want us to know for reading instruction. For now I will get ready to try this again and hope for the best. BTW 85% of my students have better reading skills than when they entered my class. My principal had several parents call him to say how happy they were to have me as their child teacher. Not passing the RICA does not make me less qualified to teach than someone that passed it. They are better at taking exams and delivering a complete case study in minutes while I need to think more about what to say and truly work bad under such pressure.

  3. Rose says...

    I was hoping the RICA will be eliminated. I passed the CBEST and CSET in one try, but missed the RICA by two points. The test does not even align to the grade level I teach.

    • Chris says...

      I was hoping for the same – that the RICA would be eliminated. I did well on the CBEST and CSET and got a 50 on the edTPA, but missed passing the RICA by 2 points. I’m so disgusted by these decisions that I won’t be entering the classroom, but am looking elsewhere for employment. We learned nothing through my educational courses regarding the RICA. What I learned about teaching someone to read, pertaining to RICA, I learned on my own, and the RICA test seemed absolutely subjective.

  4. Nicole White says...

    I have an undergraduate degree in social sciences. I also teach social sciences. Do I have to go to a CTC college that has been appointed by CTC to align with their curriculum for me to be recommended for my preliminary or will my degree from the University I attended qualify for me to get my preliminary based on ab130 option number two?

  5. Chris Tasik says...

    It seems requiring Educational Specialists to be RICA certified eliminates that need to hire Reading Specialists. This probably saves schools a great deal of money at the expense of students.

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