Credit: Theresa Harrington/EdSource Today
Second-grade teacher Mark Muńoz leads English class at Aspire Eres school in Oakland.

A small item in Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revision of California’s $122 billion budget for the coming fiscal year touches at the core of how the state prepares most of its teachers.

Brown is proposing to spend $10 million in the form of $250,000 grants to encourage expansion of what are called “integrated” or “blended” preparation programs that allow undergraduates to earn their teaching credential by the time they graduate.

That may seem like a commonsense approach. But California is the only state where the customary path to a teaching credential is a four-year undergraduate degree followed by a fifth year of post-graduate study in which a prospective teacher studies various aspects of teaching and gets trained in instructional methods.

This unusual approach may have worked when the California was not grappling with an emerging teacher shortage, as many districts are currently doing. But the state is under pressure to come up with ways to encourage prospective teachers to enter the profession that take less time, and are less costly – and still produce qualified teachers.

“Since the students are already there in college, it’s an inexpensive way to expand the pipeline without having them having to pay for master’s degrees,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute in Palo Alto.  She is also Brown’s appointee to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which she chairs.

Brown’s budget proposal is almost identical to what Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, a former teacher, is proposing in a bill she authored (Assembly Bill 1756). The bill would be unnecessary if Brown’s  proposal is approved by the Legislature.

Go to end of story for details on teacher bills in the state Legislature. 

The goal, said Bonilla, is to reduce the financial burden on students interested in teaching, “while also creating a more efficient process to get highly qualified and credentialed teachers into our classrooms.”

“It makes no sense that aspiring teachers cannot concurrently earn their baccalaureate degrees, finish their teaching credentials, and complete their student teaching in four years when our state is faced with a such a significant teacher shortage,” she said.

California’s current system of teacher preparation reflects the view that cramming undergraduate coursework and teaching methods into four years ran the risk of short-changing both.

Many states offer an undergraduate degree in which students major in education by taking a combination of courses focusing on child development, academics and pedagogy. But the state Legislature abolished the undergraduate education degree decades ago when it approved the Fisher Act in 1961 because it felt the education major did not provide a strong enough academic base for teachers.

California already has a range of “blended” or “integrated” programs offered by California State University, the University of California and private universities. These include several CSU campuses that offer a degree in liberal studies, which requires a student to study the several subjects they will be expected to teach in elementary school and complete credential coursework.

But these programs serve a tiny proportion of the total number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs at CSU each year. Out of the approximately 7,000 students in those programs, only 203 were enrolled in “integrated” programs. That was significantly less than the 1,096 enrolled in those programs a decade earlier.

CSU enrollment data for 2014-15 shows just five of the system’s 22 schools of education have active blended programs, with most students concentrated at the Long Beach and Northridge campuses.

Brown’s proposal to give grants to encourage blended or integrated programs is not an entirely new one. It was tried between 1998 and 2001, when the Legislature first gave the green light to establishing these programs as an alternative to the typical five-year teacher preparation pathway. The funds were mainly used to pay for faculty to plan new programs, and resulted in 22 “blended” programs being approved, according to an analysis of Bonilla’s bill.

But as the analysis noted, the planning grants didn’t address the issue of how to fund these programs after they were approved. Brown’s proposal also does not take on that challenge.

Ellen Moir, CEO of the Santa Cruz-based New Teacher Center, a leading teacher preparation organization, noted that a four-year program also may have to include summers to fit in all of the requirements. An integrated program “could be a great recruitment strategy” for freshmen and sophomores who’ll be able to mix solid academic courses required of majors with initial education courses, she said, and then spend their senior year on practice teaching and learning clinical skills. Strong partnerships with districts will be critical for a quality program, she added.

Darling-Hammond cautioned that although it makes sense to encourage undergraduates interested in teaching to get a credential in four years, strategies are also needed to attract people who decide to go into teaching after they have completed their undergraduate studies, or as a second career when they have already been in the workforce for several years.

These strategies should include so-called “teacher residencies,” which are based on the medical residency model, in which a prospective teacher spends up to a year shadowing an experienced teacher. There is substantial evidence, said Darling-Hammond, that the residency model contributes to “longer tenure in the profession and reduces the churn” in staffing at many schools, especially those serving high-needs students.

 

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  1. PK 5 months ago5 months ago

    California is the only state to require many ridiculous things other states do not require from teachers. All the tests, extra out of pocket fees, the pointless classes, the 4 years for a BA, plus 2-3 years for the credential program, plus all the exams and the so called TPAs at the end to make it more impossible, which only make people quit half ways through the program, and if that isn't enough, … Read More

    California is the only state to require many ridiculous things other states do not require from teachers. All the tests, extra out of pocket fees, the pointless classes, the 4 years for a BA, plus 2-3 years for the credential program, plus all the exams and the so called TPAs at the end to make it more impossible, which only make people quit half ways through the program, and if that isn’t enough, there is the 2-year-long BTSA program.

    All of these extra hurdles and obstacles simply make new teachers suffer even more so after they have done so much to get just their preliminary credential. It’s just more work, more work and more work! That is why new teachers leave the profession within 5 years because it takes more than 5 years to even get through the whole darn process.
    Why can’t having your BA degree plus having one year of on-the-job training and mentoring be enough to get through the credentialing process? Why make it more and more difficult? California is too blind to see that over the years, they have made the requirements more difficult and that is the reason for the shortage. Having a BA degree makes sense and should be required. But why do teachers have to suffer even after that and continue being held to such a higher standard but get treated with less respect and way less pay? Other jobs require experience plus education. Other professions provide on the job training and mentoring which makes sense. However teachers are expected to go through exams and do 30-page-long teacher assessments or TPAs to prove they can be good teachers? There is much more to teaching than just taking exams and doing TPAs.

    Bottom line: The pay is low, it’s too much busy work, too many exams and irrelevant work that will not actually help you in any way when teaching in your own classroom. Change the requirements to match other professions, change the programs, and teach what actually counts so teachers are more prepared to deal with real-life classroom situations, not just the so-called scenarios that are on exams. Make the process less ridiculous and “exam/TPA focused” and there won’t be such a shortage. It’s that simple.

  2. Wayne Bishop 1 year ago1 year ago

    In the 60s, I majored in mathematics in Iowa, minor in physics, with the intention of teaching high school mathematics, met all of the major requirements and teaching credential requirements (by far the most useless part of the program), had time enough to take an elective year of French, graduated in 4 years (with summers off), and immediately started teaching mathematics in a Chicago suburb high school with credential applied for by the school to … Read More

    In the 60s, I majored in mathematics in Iowa, minor in physics, with the intention of teaching high school mathematics, met all of the major requirements and teaching credential requirements (by far the most useless part of the program), had time enough to take an elective year of French, graduated in 4 years (with summers off), and immediately started teaching mathematics in a Chicago suburb high school with credential applied for by the school to be routinely confirmed months later by Cook County. I eventually earned a PhD in mathematics and have been teaching at CSULA ever since but I have preserved my interest in K-12 teaching of mathematics and have been strongly involved in the mathematics department’s involvement in preservice preparation for such. Problem? WAY too much influence and and time required by “professional” education. The difference between the education course requirements I had to take (already generally useless – John Dewey was good and still is, B.F. Skinner was good but is now bad – in reality, both are irrelevant) and the entire year of California’s course requirements is simply ridiculous. Except for a good teaching experience (mine was great), everything could be condensed into a couple of comprehensive education courses instead of individual courses with lots of redundancy and misguided education philosophy such as Constructivism and “writing across the curriculum” taught by people who have never studied genuine mathematics and never will. So-called “blended” programs imply equal value of discipline content courses with education courses when, in fact, the difference is incomparable.

    My real fear of moving in this direction is compromising the mathematics course requirements. A favorite is a year-long course sequence in the teaching of algebra and another is a year-long course sequence in the teaching of geometry – ostensibly, to focus on content that is in the curriculum rather than being too advanced. The philosophy is exactly wrong. A reasonable analogy would be with reading. Expecting quality teaching of reading from someone who has never read a novel – and is incapable of reading one – would be ridiculous. Such a candidate would not have the depth of “behind-the-scenes” factors that go into initial development and eventual fluid reading. Generalize to mathematics. My daughter’s 7th and 8th grade math teacher at a private school was a well-prepared engineer with, by design, no education courses who decided he’d rather teach. He was excellent. By contrast, I have seen university professors of mathematics education who would not be competent at the precalculus level expounding on how mathematics is effectively taught and learned and similarly professors of science education who have never taken calculus-based physics, one of the first courses in decent “hard” science and engineering programs.

    Yes, shorten the programs to 4 reasonable years of study but don’t compromise discipline content. Make ALL the changes in vastly consolidating the education requirements and make them available to any teaching candidate was a solid academic degree in the discipline of interest.

    Wayne Bishop
    Dept. of Mathematics, Emeritus
    California State University, LA

  3. CA Teacher 1 year ago1 year ago

    Yes, class sizes are recently being reduced, but that is after years of class size increases due to budget cuts. Class sizes became too large. The shortage is caused in part because of years of budget cuts in which teachers were laid off (last hired, first fired policy) and class sizes were increased. In my large home district, because of the lay offs of younger teachers (several times, even teachers with 5 … Read More

    Yes, class sizes are recently being reduced, but that is after years of class size increases due to budget cuts. Class sizes became too large.
    The shortage is caused in part because of years of budget cuts in which teachers were laid off (last hired, first fired policy) and class sizes were increased. In my large home district, because of the lay offs of younger teachers (several times, even teachers with 5 years of experience were faced with layoffs), a sizeable portion of the teaching staff is approaching retirement within the next 10 years. Younger teachers who switched careers due to layoffs didn’t come back to teaching. In addition, as pointed out by this article, CA is the only state to require a graduate degree to get a teaching credential. That needs to change.

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      “CA is the only state to require a graduate degree to get a teaching credential..”

      Bachelor’s degree only is needed.

  4. Consuelo 1 year ago1 year ago

    Makes sense!

  5. MC 1 year ago1 year ago

    The teacher shortage was and is being caused by the State requiring all districts to reduce all kindergarten to third classrooms to a 24 to 1 ratio. Let’s not use this man-made issue to lower standards and appease CTA. Stop with the BS