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