Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Nearly half of California’s potential teachers struggle to pass a gauntlet of standardized tests required for them to earn a credential, making it more difficult for the state to put a dent in a persistent teacher shortage.

But that could change soon, as officials at the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing look to reform the entire landscape of tests that teachers have to take to enter the profession.

While the issue of student testing has always received considerable attention, the tests prospective teachers in California must take have received far less. It is an issue that is attracting more attention recently, as state education leaders begin to acknowledge these tests as major stumbling blocks to attracting new teachers to the profession. At the same time, educators have to ensure that reforming the testing regimen, which could include eliminating some tests, doesn’t lower the standards for basic proficiency that these tests are supposed to ensure.

About 40 percent of students seeking to become teachers give up because they fail to pass the required tests at various steps along the path to getting their credential, according to data from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. For prospective math or science teachers, that number climbs to 50 percent.

The tests that future teachers are required to take vary depending on what they plan to teach, but there are four assessments that almost all must take:

  • California Basic Educational Skills Test, or CBEST, which tests reading, math and writing skills and is usually taken before a student is accepted into a teacher preparation program.
  • California Subject Examinations for Teachers, referred to as CSET, tests subject knowledge. Elementary school and special education teachers earn a multiple subject credential by passing a trio of tests — in science and math; reading, language, literature, history and social science; and physical education, human development and visual and performing arts. Middle and high school teachers earn single subject credentials in areas such as art, biology or English by passing at least one subject exam.
  • Reading Instruction Competence Assessment, which tests reading instruction, is required for elementary and special education teachers before they obtain a credential.
  • California Teaching Performance Assessment, which measures how well teacher candidates assess students, design instruction, organize subject matter and other skills. The test must be taken by all teachers, except special education teachers, before they can earn a credential.

Reforming the testing process could also mean economic relief for some teacher hopefuls, especially those who have had to take a test multiple times. Tests can cost anywhere from $99 for a single subject exam each time it is taken to $247 for the three tests that make up the CSET: Multiple Subjects Test. The CBEST costs $41 if a paper test is taken and $61 if a test is taken by computer.

When students take those tests depends on the teacher preparation program in which they are enrolled. For instance, some teacher preparation programs require that students pass the CSET before admission, while some allow students to enroll first, then require they pass the test before they begin student teaching.

“I am most concerned by the amount of testing we put teachers through in order to get them credentialed,” said Mary Vixie Sandy, executive director of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Amber Wilson is currently teaching special education at a middle school in Twin Rivers Unified in Sacramento on a short-term staff permit, while she is working to earn her full credential in a teacher preparation program offered by the Sacramento County Office of Education. In California public and private universities, county offices of education and school districts can be approved by the state’s credentialing commission to offer teacher preparation programs.

Wilson, 27, failed the CSET tests required for a multiple subject credential the first time she took them. She passed two of the three tests the second time she tried, but failed the math and science test. Wilson tried a third time, edging closer to the passing score of 220 with each attempt.

The pressure on Wilson continues to build as the deadline to pass the test looms. If she doesn’t pass the test by the end of the school year she will lose her place in the teacher preparation program, as well as the short-term staff permit. Wilson expects to meet with district officials to discuss her status in February.

The short-term staff permit that Wilson has allows a school district to fill a needed position when a certificated teacher can’t be found for it. Students on a short-term staff permit have one year to pass the CSET while they teach in the classroom. 

Those tests seem to be the biggest hurdle for teachers.

Although the CSET had an overall cumulative passing rate of 80.8 percent between 2003 and 2017, the cumulative passing rates for single subject tests varied from 96.9 percent for one in preliminary educational technology to 7.9 percent on the test for prospective teachers of English learners. The cumulative passing rate is the percentage of people who pass the test over a specific period of time, including those who take the test more than once.

“The CSET stands as a significant barrier to enrollment in many teacher education programs, especially in high-need fields such as mathematics and science,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, chair of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Wilson said she has refused to give up, taking a test preparation class, making flash cards and answering practice questions online for the math and science test. In November she took the test for the fourth time. Her score went down. “I got really anxious and didn’t do well on the test,” she said.

Wilson is paying for her teacher preparation program with a state grant from the California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program, which helps so-called “classified” employees like bus drivers, office workers and campus monitors who don’t have a teaching credential to become teachers.

In some cases, the CSET has become an obstacle to implementing that program. For example, the Riverside County Office of Education hasn’t been able to distribute all of the money the state has provided for tuition because some prospective teachers could not pass the tests required to join the program, said Barbara Howard, director of Teacher Innovation for the county office. She said at least 5 percent of the students in the program finish their bachelor’s degrees and satisfy all of the other requirements needed to start their teacher preparation program, but can’t pass the CSET.

The state currently offers alternatives to taking some of the credentialing tests and may consider adding other options to testing.

The CBEST, for example, can be waived if a student scores at least a 500 on the SAT English exam and at least 550 on the SAT math exam, or scores a 22 or higher on the ACT English exam and a 23 or higher on the ACT math exam. The test also can be waived if a student passes the CSET: Multiple Subjects test, plus a related writing examination, or earns a 3 or above on specific high school Advanced Placement tests.

In some cases, the CSET can be waived if students pass commission-approved coursework, aligned to each test, while they are earning their undergraduate degrees. 

With a persistent teacher shortage in California, officials at the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing are looking to reform teacher testing. Earlier this year members of the commission discussed the issue and decided to take a closer look at what teachers should know about the subjects they are teaching and how that should be measured.

Teaching credential candidates and others in the education community have called for more alternatives to taking the CSET, like allowing some university degrees or a combination of coursework and exams to meet the requirement, Sandy said.

Alternate pathways to prove competency and better ways to align teachers’ tests to what is being taught in today’s classrooms are two of many things the commission will consider over the next year, Darling-Hammond said. That could mean changing the tests, or even eliminating some, she said.

“Our job is to make sure teachers know the content in a way, and teach in a way, that can help students learn,” Darling-Hammond said.

The commission will likely form a panel or task force to study the issue over the next year, she said. The goal is to increase the number of people who want to be teachers in a state with a serious teacher shortage, while maintaining standards, Darling-Hammond said. 

Although new tests, if approved, are years away, other changes — like accepting coursework or university degrees instead — could come sooner, commission officials said.

Substitute teacher Sandra Veit Gagain, of Roseville, said the credentialing commission should be careful not to lower its standards as it attempts to address the state’s acute teacher shortage.

“I know they need to have more teachers, but we need to hold the standards high, like we do for our students,” she said.

Veit Gagain returned to school a little over a decade ago to start a second career as a teacher. She passed all her credentialing tests the first time. “I struggled a little,” she said. “I hadn’t looked at math for a long time. It was challenging, but it was something I needed (in the classroom).”

She works part-time as a substitute because of caretaking responsibilities at home, but Vet Gagain said she plans to return to the classroom as a full-time teacher next year.

Stephanie Biagetti, chair of the teacher credentialing program at Sacramento State, doesn’t believe the tests are too difficult or too numerous. Students who do not pass all the required tests by the time they are due to start student teaching typically add a semester of field experience, which entails observing or assisting teachers in their classrooms, and take that time to study for the test, she said.

Wilson is excited to hear that the credentialing commission is considering alternatives to the CSET. She would like the commission to consider allowing students who failed the test multiple times to take a class instead to prove competency.

“It was definitely a big financial burden,” Wilson said of the testing. She said she has spent about $1,000 on the tests — $500 for just the math and science test.

Despite the cost, Wilson said she will not give up. “It’s not a matter of if I pass, it’s when,” she said.

If she can’t pass the test before the spring deadline, Wilson said she plans to work as a substitute teacher next school year, or return to her paraeducator position and then try to re-enroll in the teacher preparation program at the Sacramento County Office of Education at a later date.

“If it could happen before February that would be great,” she said.

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  1. Fouad Elkadi 23 hours ago23 hours ago

    My question is why don't the schools monitor the tests instead of the private companies that only care about the money. I was so close to passing the multiple subject tests 2 and 3 (within 2 points) and they still fail me. I have a master's degree in education, and I took many of the courses required for the credential, and I have been a substitute teacher for 5 years, and still, I … Read More

    My question is why don’t the schools monitor the tests instead of the private companies that only care about the money. I was so close to passing the multiple subject tests 2 and 3 (within 2 points) and they still fail me. I have a master’s degree in education, and I took many of the courses required for the credential, and I have been a substitute teacher for 5 years, and still, I cannot be a full-time teacher until I pass the 2 tests. I will keep trying, but something must be done by California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

  2. Juergen Siemers 5 days ago5 days ago

    There are many older teachers that were not required to take these tests. They make 6 figure salaries and yet do not invest in upgrading their skills or keeping them up to snuff. Younger teachers, battle through this monopoly of testing, just to get their foot in the door. One question I have about these tests is, how in the world does passing the RICA prove that you can teach special ed … Read More

    There are many older teachers that were not required to take these tests. They make 6 figure salaries and yet do not invest in upgrading their skills or keeping them up to snuff. Younger teachers, battle through this monopoly of testing, just to get their foot in the door.

    One question I have about these tests is, how in the world does passing the RICA prove that you can teach special ed kids at the elementary level? These kids are learning how to deal with society as a first step. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic are secondary. These teachers are way more qualified to teach in these classes than their colleagues in the regular classrooms, yet the older teachers, acting as if they know everything, are protected by unions. I would bet that over half would not pass the RICA if required. These tests are ridiculous and run by a monopoly, as you can’t go elsewhere to take them. “$200 Please…” each time.

    Check out how much your local teachers make:
    https://transparentcalifornia.com/agencies/salaries/school-districts/

  3. Andrew J Collins 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    I know this is article is about the CSET, but my issue has been the RICA (Reading Instruction Competency Assessment). I have taken it 6 time (5 CBT & 1 Video). Needing a 220 to pass, the highest I've received was a 217. The others being in the 180's. I've tried study materials, tutors and going back to my mentor teacher for help. I've spent over $1000 on just this … Read More

    I know this is article is about the CSET, but my issue has been the RICA (Reading Instruction Competency Assessment). I have taken it 6 time (5 CBT & 1 Video). Needing a 220 to pass, the highest I’ve received was a 217. The others being in the 180’s. I’ve tried study materials, tutors and going back to my mentor teacher for help. I’ve spent over $1000 on just this test alone. Unlike the CBEST & CSET, the expectations for a passing score are mysterious. And when I went to check for the details of the score, like the CBEST & CSET, no details are available. This is has been an emotional strain and financial burden. I don’t know when my time will be up to pass to complete my degree. I’m trying to file a complaint, but have not been able to find a way to do so. I have not told my mentor teacher out of embarrassment. These burdens on becoming a teacher need to be lifted, so passionate people can live their dreams. I’ve been to other states (and countries), and no other place has so many obstacles to becoming a teacher.

  4. Shanti 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    I think not all people are strong test takers. The commission should have coursework that will allow teachers to fulfill these requirements to become credentialed teachers.

  5. Jason 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    The CSET does not test subject-matter competency! (This is false.)

    For example. In the CSEt Multiple Subjects Test #2, science and math are combined together. If a teacher candidate passes math, but fails science, that person fails the test. That means they must pass both science and math again, even though the math portion was passed. Let me repeat that. A teacher candidate can get an A in the math section, but still fail the test. That is not subject matter competency.

  6. Amber 1 month ago1 month ago

    I hope they overhaul the testing process for prospective teachers. I have been in education in various roles for 10 years and am ready to call it quits. I am 1 semester away from being finished with my Master's in education and embedded credential but cannot reach the end due to failure to pass CSET 214 (math/science). I successfully taught 7th grade with great observations and evaluations. I was on many committees along with assisting … Read More

    I hope they overhaul the testing process for prospective teachers. I have been in education in various roles for 10 years and am ready to call it quits. I am 1 semester away from being finished with my Master’s in education and embedded credential but cannot reach the end due to failure to pass CSET 214 (math/science). I successfully taught 7th grade with great observations and evaluations. I was on many committees along with assisting my department with new strategies. I’ve done well in my education but can’t pass this test.

    Yes, I want qualified teachers as my own children attended a California school, but there has to be another way to deem a teacher qualified. We don’t want our students tested this way and we are supposed to be all about using various strategies and tools, yet we test our teachers by drill n kill.

    CA get it together!

  7. Sean Hong 1 month ago1 month ago

    My wife is trying to pass the cset single subject math exam. She is having a difficult time because she doesn't understand how this will help her teach students. She has been a full-time tutor for 20+ years and teaches math to many students from pre-algebra to calculus. What blows her mind is that the CSET is a foreign language that is not meant to prepare teachers to teach application math. You know the one … Read More

    My wife is trying to pass the cset single subject math exam. She is having a difficult time because she doesn’t understand how this will help her teach students. She has been a full-time tutor for 20+ years and teaches math to many students from pre-algebra to calculus.

    What blows her mind is that the CSET is a foreign language that is not meant to prepare teachers to teach application math. You know the one everyone uses day to day and not the academics figuring out new profound ways to do math. Teachers are there to teach the masses not a select few.

  8. Debbie 2 months ago2 months ago

    I have been struggling with the CSET of Multiple Subjects for a number of years. It has been a very difficult experience. I've been dealing with these tests since 2015. I passed the first subtest after the fifth try, the third one on the third and Math/Science, I will take it on June 22nd for the ninth time. I am currently teaching first grade. I was under a PIP permit and now I will be … Read More

    I have been struggling with the CSET of Multiple Subjects for a number of years. It has been a very difficult experience. I’ve been dealing with these tests since 2015. I passed the first subtest after the fifth try, the third one on the third and Math/Science, I will take it on June 22nd for the ninth time. I am currently teaching first grade. I was under a PIP permit and now I will be under a STSP when the new school year starts in August. I am one class from finishing my credential (student teaching) and I have all my masters classes done but I cannot finish it because I need the credential. I have As in all my classes. I have spent over $1000 in these tests and it is incredibly frustrating. There has to be another way. I’d rather take a class than to take the test. If it weren’t for these tests, I would have had my credential a long time ago!

  9. Staci Chase 2 months ago2 months ago

    I am currently on a STSP and have completed all my classes for Credentialing and master’s and I am unable to pass CSET 1/2. I have tried 3 times and have gotten closer but this makes no sense when my scores for teaching my students on the CAASPP are higher than veteran teachers. I will have to resign this year and go back to subbing till I can pass the CSETSs .

  10. Stephanie Miller 2 months ago2 months ago

    Yet there are thousands of teachers that did study very hard…. And passed the tests.
    I want teachers that know how to study and learn to teach children.

    Replies

    • Debbie 2 months ago2 months ago

      Stephanie, I have studied very hard and I can’t passed the second subtest. I am not very good at taking tests. What you are saying is unfair.

      • Michele Lee 1 month ago1 month ago

        Extremely unfair comment. My son is in his master’s and credential program. He is incredible with kids and with really looking at how kids learn in different ways. He gets high 90s in every class he’s taken. Yet, since junior high and high school, he has struggled with test anxiety. It’s real.

  11. Lorin 2 months ago2 months ago

    I have passed the CSET I and III, but cannot pass CSET II. Math and Science are not my best subject. My question about this standardized testing is will passing this test make me a better teacher? Probably not. Just because a person can pass a test (doctor, lawyer, therapist, teacher) it does not make them better at their job. To become a teacher in CA, one must pass the CBEST, 3 CSETS, and RICA. … Read More

    I have passed the CSET I and III, but cannot pass CSET II. Math and Science are not my best subject. My question about this standardized testing is will passing this test make me a better teacher? Probably not. Just because a person can pass a test (doctor, lawyer, therapist, teacher) it does not make them better at their job. To become a teacher in CA, one must pass the CBEST, 3 CSETS, and RICA. While I understand CBEST and RICA the CSETs are overrated and have nothing to do with teaching. I will take the test one more time. If I cannot get past may previous scores to pass, I will move on and California will lose another good teacher.

  12. priya 2 months ago2 months ago

    It is great to hear that the state is trying to bring changes to the system. In my opinion, by passing or not passing these exams does not make a person good or bad teacher. There are so many wonderful teachers, who cannot teach due to these tests. There are universities out there who use to write waiver letters for the students to waive CSET exam, who were majoring in Education and working towards multiple … Read More

    It is great to hear that the state is trying to bring changes to the system. In my opinion, by passing or not passing these exams does not make a person good or bad teacher. There are so many wonderful teachers, who cannot teach due to these tests. There are universities out there who use to write waiver letters for the students to waive CSET exam, who were majoring in Education and working towards multiple subject credentials, but now the letter is not being accepted by colleges. It is very sad. Schools are facing a teacher shortage.

  13. Brent Botzer 2 months ago2 months ago

    I have passed the multiple subject tests but now I am moving on to single subject English and the subset 3 is a killer. I wish they would get rid of these tests. They do not tell me that I am not a great teacher and that I can't be an effective teacher without passing them. I can manage and teach a class better than most teachers that have passed the tests … Read More

    I have passed the multiple subject tests but now I am moving on to single subject English and the subset 3 is a killer. I wish they would get rid of these tests. They do not tell me that I am not a great teacher and that I can’t be an effective teacher without passing them. I can manage and teach a class better than most teachers that have passed the tests and if I do not pass these tests, I will lose my job and students will now have to go to teachers who really can’t teach or manage a classroom.

  14. Amy 3 months ago3 months ago

    This is great. Personally, I would like to see specific majors meet these requirements. As a child development major, I found it very frustrating to be credentialing with people who had degrees in things like journalism or women's studies and wanted to be teachers because they couldn't find work in their respective areas of studies (their stated reasons for being there) with no idea how children learn or theories or practices of education. I don't … Read More

    This is great. Personally, I would like to see specific majors meet these requirements. As a child development major, I found it very frustrating to be credentialing with people who had degrees in things like journalism or women’s studies and wanted to be teachers because they couldn’t find work in their respective areas of studies (their stated reasons for being there) with no idea how children learn or theories or practices of education. I don’t think teaching should be a fall-back career. I thinks tests are useful for those types of situations.

    Replies

    • Paola Allendez 2 months ago2 months ago

      Please tell me how a test is going to prepare to be a good teacher?

  15. Renee 3 months ago3 months ago

    I am getting my Mod/Severe credential. It would make me so happy if they changed the test. Maybe give a test for special education teachers that is geared toward what they will be teaching. Some of our students are nonverbal and unable to do any iof the academics that are asked on the test, so why do we need do take the test when we will most likely not be using any of that information … Read More

    I am getting my Mod/Severe credential. It would make me so happy if they changed the test. Maybe give a test for special education teachers that is geared toward what they will be teaching. Some of our students are nonverbal and unable to do any iof the academics that are asked on the test, so why do we need do take the test when we will most likely not be using any of that information in our classroom? It needs to be more specific on what we are teaching.

    Replies

    • Allison Golde 3 months ago3 months ago

      I found out as Special Education teachers we are at a disadvantage for the RICA.

    • Zakia 3 months ago3 months ago

      Renee,
      I agree with you! I have worked in mod/sev for many years and the tests are not geared towards special education teachers. The test should consist of our knowledge of teaching them the life skills they will need to make it in society, our knowledge of IDEA, ADA, IEPS, PBIS, and so forth. None of what I really teach is on the test! It was a total waste of my money even though I did pass!

  16. Mrs. B 3 months ago3 months ago

    I am not sure how I feel about this. I passed all of these tests before I became a teacher in 2005. To some extent, we need tests to make sure teachers are qualified to teach. I have friends who are 6th grade teachers but have no idea how to do the math themselves. Doesn't this just make our students have a more difficult time learning? Then we get more and more students who aren't … Read More

    I am not sure how I feel about this. I passed all of these tests before I became a teacher in 2005. To some extent, we need tests to make sure teachers are qualified to teach. I have friends who are 6th grade teachers but have no idea how to do the math themselves. Doesn’t this just make our students have a more difficult time learning? Then we get more and more students who aren’t taught effectively, and their gaps just widen.
    In the same breath, a multiple subject test that covers all of the math standards of grades k-8 is insane! I’d be more interested in teachers taking a more indepth test, but for a specific grade span they want to teach. Then kinder teachers are taking one for k-2. 6th grade teachers maybe 5th-7th? I think it’s important to be proficient in your content, but this vast proficiency is out of reach for most people.

  17. Denise Luna 4 months ago4 months ago

    There should be changes regarding the requirements for teaching including the non-paid student teaching because internships are scarce, and the numerous tests prior to completion are costly. As a substitute teacher, I am acquiring the day-to-day schedules of teaching in a hands-on setting which to me is very valuable and should be counted towards my potential credential.

  18. Kathy lawrence 4 months ago4 months ago

    Thank you for a very informative Article. My son has been struggling to pass the RICA test which I think he has taken at least three times and has been within 10 points of passing each time. He graduated from Cal State Fullerton in the multi-subject teaching credential program. He always obtained good grades in the program. He has gone to a 9 hour test prep class, he has a number of test … Read More

    Thank you for a very informative Article. My son has been struggling to pass the RICA test which I think he has taken at least three times and has been within 10 points of passing each time. He graduated from Cal State Fullerton in the multi-subject teaching credential program. He always obtained good grades in the program. He has gone to a 9 hour test prep class, he has a number of test prep workbooks, he works with his girlfriend who is an elementary school teacher, and last time submitted his test for review but the score still stood. He is always in the 210 to 215 range but cannot seem to get to that 220.

    It’s extremely frustrating that he cannot get more information as to where the deficiencies are so he can improve himself. I’m reaching out to you to see if you have any additional advice or guidance on how he might improve, and if there are additional resources to assist him to finally be successful in passing this test.

    Thank you in advance for your response.

  19. Esmeralda 4 months ago4 months ago

    I am so happy to read this article. I am a substitute teacher and have been for the last nine years. I have worked in classrooms for the last thirty years. I went to college in my late forties because coworkers kept encouraging me to get my degree so I could teach. I got my bachelor's and followed up with credential program. When it came time to take the CSET, I passed all but the … Read More

    I am so happy to read this article. I am a substitute teacher and have been for the last nine years. I have worked in classrooms for the last thirty years. I went to college in my late forties because coworkers kept encouraging me to get my degree so I could teach. I got my bachelor’s and followed up with credential program. When it came time to take the CSET, I passed all but the math and Science. I have taken the test 19 times in the last nine years while teaching long term assignments. I never wanted to give up. I am often asked by school administrators why I am not teaching full time and I explain that the CESET has kept me from teaching full time.
    Last year I took the test for the nineteenth time and couldn’t pass. I was so broken hearted that part of me is giving up. I love teaching I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I’m so glad that people are rethinking the testing. Thank you Jesus.

  20. Regina Sevilla 4 months ago4 months ago

    I am a substitute teacher in California and would love to become a regular teacher. I cannot pass the Science and Math, Music CSET. I have a degree however cannot apply for a second degree at the CSUN. I teach in a K-12 classroom every day. I pray that they come up with an alternative to passing the CSET. I haven't attempted the RICA. I hear many say it's difficult. It would be nice if … Read More

    I am a substitute teacher in California and would love to become a regular teacher. I cannot pass the Science and Math, Music CSET. I have a degree however cannot apply for a second degree at the CSUN. I teach in a K-12 classroom every day. I pray that they come up with an alternative to passing the CSET. I haven’t attempted the RICA. I hear many say it’s difficult. It would be nice if the district offered some classes to fulfill the requirement and let us teach. Thank you

    Replies

    • Stacey 4 months ago4 months ago

      I just took the RICA for the second time today. Not only is the RICA exponentially more difficult than all the CSETS combined — it’s 4 hours and you still have to rush. It is a seriously flawed structure — you also have to pass a massive project called the EdTPA. I’m awaiting results on that as well. I have two masters degrees and have taught K through 12, ESL, and college level literature and … Read More

      I just took the RICA for the second time today. Not only is the RICA exponentially more difficult than all the CSETS combined — it’s 4 hours and you still have to rush. It is a seriously flawed structure — you also have to pass a massive project called the EdTPA. I’m awaiting results on that as well.

      I have two masters degrees and have taught K through 12, ESL, and college level literature and writing courses for 25 years. If I do not pass the EdTPA (it sucks the energy and life out of your world while it’s hanging over your head), I will no longer pursue the multiple subjects credential even though I’m strong in the classroom and genuinely know how to teach. I resent the fees the system takes from us with these excess tests that often have to be repeated many times. Feels like a scam.

  21. Sum 4 months ago4 months ago

    Thank you for this article. I’ve enjoyed the commentary as well. In short, I think CSET tests are fantastic for those who have the aptitude, but not the completed college coursework, to demonstrate ability. However, to require those who have completed the appropriate college classes to also pass these tests is redundant and a wasteful expenditure of a person’s time. I am a recent graduate with an M.A. in Economics. I’ve spent most of … Read More

    Thank you for this article. I’ve enjoyed the commentary as well.

    In short, I think CSET tests are fantastic for those who have the aptitude, but not the completed college coursework, to demonstrate ability. However, to require those who have completed the appropriate college classes to also pass these tests is redundant and a wasteful expenditure of a person’s time.

    I am a recent graduate with an M.A. in Economics. I’ve spent most of my adult life in college and have completed more than one hundred classes. My cumulative GPA is approximately 3.85. My interests are vast; I made a point to balance academics with a variety of coursework outside of my major. Subsequently, I’ve accumulated a substantial amount of learning spanning music, theater, arts, culture, ethics, creativity, health, history, and literature to go along with and enhance my understanding of business, math, statistics, econometrics, accounting, and finance.

    Based on this, a career as a teacher, from a social planning perspective, would be an efficient allocation of knowledge capital. Plus, I would like to teach more than just about anything, especially economics, music, and math. With respect to mathematics, I’d most like to teach algebra.

    I am currently working as a substitute teacher; I’m new to the field. The budding desires and questions that have been circulating in my mind are:

    Can I step into a poor performing middle school or high school and get students engaged despite the diversity of negative externalities affecting their lives and hampering their ability to focus and learn?

    How can I teach them to love who they are and take pride in their skill-set and ability as it currently stands?

    How can I inspire them to want to grow and take joy in the journey of learning? How can I bring a group of students together and get them to feel and function more like an extended family?

    How can I get them to respect and love one another? What methods can I employ? What techniques can I utilize to help achieve this?

    Contemplating these questions is how I like to spend my evenings and weekends, reflecting on all I’ve learned thus far. It is a suitable allocation of time and energy and an endeavor worth a lifetime of dedication.

    I looked over the CSET tests required to teach algebra. Most of the questions are far beyond what I would be actually teaching, but nothing I haven’t completed before, mostly early on in my academic career as an undergraduate. The time and energy necessary to transfer this archived knowledge to the forefront of my mind, simply to satisfy a one-time test, before fading once again, because I won’t be teaching calculus, linear algebra, and proofs to pre-algebra and algebra students, is a tough pill to swallow.

    Remember, time is our most precious asset; its duration is uncertain, and its length finite.

    If the CSET, as it stands, awaits me at the end of a credential, I doubt I will even begin to pursue one. Instead, I will continue to enjoy substituting while casually searching for alternative career paths that might be equally as fulfilling. I estimate this will take approximately two to three years, meaning this is the time constraint the CTC has to devise alternative paths to teaching if they wish to retain me.

    I hope they succeed. After this, you most likely can count me amongst the accumulating social dead weight loss of extremely-qualified-potentially-great-teachers who were unwilling or unable to overcome the high barrier to entry established by the CTC and a testing monopoly.

  22. Chris Colwell 4 months ago4 months ago

    Only 7.9% of people pass the ELD CSETs! These tests have also been very difficult for me and I'v been unsuccessful in passing them. On the CTC leaflet, it describes proving equivalency with a subject matter program as an alternative to taking the CSETs. Yet, since a subject matter program has only been available for less than a year out of the five years that I have had my preliminary credential, I've had to try … Read More

    Only 7.9% of people pass the ELD CSETs! These tests have also been very difficult for me and I’v been unsuccessful in passing them. On the CTC leaflet, it describes proving equivalency with a subject matter program as an alternative to taking the CSETs. Yet, since a subject matter program has only been available for less than a year out of the five years that I have had my preliminary credential, I’ve had to try and pass these impossible tests. Right now I’m applying for a one-year extension, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to clear my credential if I don’t pass these tests or prove subject matter equivalency.

    Replies

    • ramby 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Chris, I agree. I'm in the same boat. CTC granted me subject matter competency at the time of my preliminary credential based on my education and experience (as I have master in math). At the end of 5 years I applied for renewal and CTC sent me a letter that subject matter competency was granted in error and I have to prove it within one year. So I applied for an extension that … Read More

      Hi Chris,
      I agree. I’m in the same boat. CTC granted me subject matter competency at the time of my preliminary credential based on my education and experience (as I have master in math). At the end of 5 years I applied for renewal and CTC sent me a letter that subject matter competency was granted in error and I have to prove it within one year. So I applied for an extension that is about to expire in this June. So far I took first two tests and their results are pending and my license is about to expire. My question is if I couldn’t clear my credential by end of may would CTC cancel all my certifications or what? What option I have in order to teach? I don’t have any extension. What should I do??

  23. Michael 5 months ago5 months ago

    I'm preparing for the Math single subject CSET subtests 1 and 2. I would have no complaints if the subtests were more related to the material actually taught in classrooms according to the curriculum. But unfortunately, there's a fair amount of higher level stuff that has little to do with what grades 6-12 students are required to learn. I enjoy learning it, personally, but I can see why it would be a burdensome workload … Read More

    I’m preparing for the Math single subject CSET subtests 1 and 2. I would have no complaints if the subtests were more related to the material actually taught in classrooms according to the curriculum. But unfortunately, there’s a fair amount of higher level stuff that has little to do with what grades 6-12 students are required to learn. I enjoy learning it, personally, but I can see why it would be a burdensome workload for other aspiring teachers. The subtests should be about thoroughly understanding state curriculum standards and how to communicate them to young learners.
    There are so many topics on these exams that I will never have to demonstrate on a whiteboard. The first subtest should be Middle School Mathematical Standards (but obviously of a higher complexity and requiring the ability to thoroughly prove and explain every solution at a college level). The second subtest should be required math to graduate high school such as Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Pre-Calc (but again, the test should examine the candidates’ ability to explain each concept thoroughly). And the third subtest should be AP Stat, Calculus and higher level optional math in High School. That way, at each level, a passing test-taker would be eligible to teach in some classroom. They should focus on a complete understanding of material that will be taught. Not multiplying matrices, or abstract algebra and group theory. All these things are fun to learn about, but completely unnecessary in the vast majority of classrooms.

    That is where a lot of the frustration is coming from. There is a lot to do in order to get your credential. This hurdle seems unnecessarily difficult. Between taking night classes, working full time, applying and interviewing in order to become just intern-eligible, studying material that I will never have to teach kind of seems like a poor use of time. I could be learning how to teach the material I will actually be presenting to students one day.

    Again, I haven’t failed and I don’t anticipate failing. It’s not about “weeding out stupid teachers,” as some comments in this thread might suggest. It’s about what actually prepares teachers for the job and what is a waste of time and money/deterrent for potential educators.

    Should math and science teachers know significantly more about their subjects than their students will be required to? Absolutely!!!! No one is in disagreement about that. If a student has questions beyond the curriculum, I want to be able to answer them.

    But to be a 7th grade math teacher, you do not ever need to know how to multiply matrices.

    Math majors and mathematicians will always have a wider breadth of knowledge than your average high school teacher. They aren’t college professors. They don’t have to achieve in their field outside of the classroom or anything like that. The job of a teacher is to guide students and prepare them for future classes and higher education. Teaching young people requires a different set of skills than becoming a math academic does.

    Replies

    • Navreet 4 months ago4 months ago

      Hi Michael, I wanted to join the teacher profession in California due to the shortage of teachers. I hold a master's degree and was hoping a shorter path to become a teacher. I was interested in teaching math to middle schoolers. But it all looks so lengthy and complicated. Would you be kind enough to share what I should be following to get to that goal. I’ve been looking at the website but there are … Read More

      Hi Michael, I wanted to join the teacher profession in California due to the shortage of teachers. I hold a master’s degree and was hoping a shorter path to become a teacher. I was interested in teaching math to middle schoolers. But it all looks so lengthy and complicated. Would you be kind enough to share what I should be following to get to that goal.
      I’ve been looking at the website but there are just to many and/or conditions. My understanding is that I would have to take the CBEST and the CSET for specific subject (math). Followed by a course/exam on the U.S. Constitution. I would really appreciate if you could shed some light on the path I will have to follow including classroom prep etc.
      Thanks.

    • Sean Hong 1 month ago1 month ago

      My wife and I agree with you fully! I’m so happy there are others who see the failure of the CSET. Why not test according to the curriculum instead of trying to find the next math prodigy?!?!?

  24. Maryann Walsh 5 months ago5 months ago

    Other states who presently rank higher in education than California also offer reciprocity for out of state teachers. Transcripts and experience are reviewed and a credential is given. California should seriously consider reciprocity. If California rated in the top 5 for education, I would recommend continuing all the testing they now mandate, but California has not been ranking in the top ten for awhile. Perhaps the committee should look at a state like Massachusetts, it … Read More

    Other states who presently rank higher in education than California also offer reciprocity
    for out of state teachers.
    Transcripts and experience are reviewed and a credential is given. California should seriously consider reciprocity.
    If California rated in the top 5 for education, I would recommend continuing all the testing they now mandate, but California has not been ranking in the top ten for awhile.
    Perhaps the committee should look at a state like Massachusetts, it usually is one of the top five states for education according to certain criteria set.
    Thank you for the informative article.

  25. Alisa 5 months ago5 months ago

    I have mixed feelings about all of these tests. I’ve taken the multiple subjects test 1 and missed it by 7 points both times. My problem is remembering all of the history dates and events. On section 3, I missed it by 13 points because I can’t remember all of the human development age areas. I have not taken section 2 yet. I’m changing fields from business to teach because I love working with students … Read More

    I have mixed feelings about all of these tests. I’ve taken the multiple subjects test 1 and missed it by 7 points both times. My problem is remembering all of the history dates and events. On section 3, I missed it by 13 points because I can’t remember all of the human development age areas. I have not taken section 2 yet.

    I’m changing fields from business to teach because I love working with students who have special needs. I said all of that to say the test is not necessarily the problem. The teaching programs should include the information covered in the test if that’s what we need to know to teach effectively.

    I have an MBA and did very well in both my bachelor’s and master’s programs. I had a hard time learning about phonemes, graphemes, phonetic awareness etc. because it was not taught in the 8 classes I’ve taken so far. Coming from a pure business background I had no prior knowledge. If the education programs link up with the test standards then more of us would be better prepared for the test.

    Pearson has a monopoly on these test and makes you wait too long to retest for you to make use of the areas you need to testify. Maybe if another entity was allowed to test as well, then more would pass because they would be in competition to have the best passing rate. Pearson is making money hand over fist so it’s in their best interest to keep failing students. The CTC has the power to break this monopoly and to require the approved programs to teach aspiring teachers what they need to know to pass these tests.

    I will continue to study and pursue my Education Specialist Credential so that I can help our elementary students pursue their dreams.

    One last thing. Why did they change the way the reading was taught in the ’70s? I learned to read from the rhyming books “Sam sat see…see Jane run.” My children learned from the Bob books. These things worked. Why do we need fancy words (graphemes) etc to teach simple things? Just my thoughts.

  26. Robert 6 months ago6 months ago

    I had to take the social science CSETs a couple of times. Some of the content on that exam I cannot recall ever learning about. The ability to pass a test does not prove someone’s intelligence. The tests are horrible, poorly structured, and a drain on future teachers’ esteem and wallets.

  27. Old teacher 6 months ago6 months ago

    We have white ivory tower syndrome all over the country; our universities are completely out of touch. The professor below who is trying defend this kind of testing is in complete denial about the motives of the corporations who profit from these tests. For example New York Dept of Ed has a contract with a testing corporation where the company only profits if students fail. This contract was only unveiled because … Read More

    We have white ivory tower syndrome all over the country; our universities are completely out of touch. The professor below who is trying defend this kind of testing is in complete denial about the motives of the corporations who profit from these tests. For example New York Dept of Ed has a contract with a testing corporation where the company only profits if students fail. This contract was only unveiled because two freedoms of information acts were filed.

    The first time this was filed the documents were heavily redacted.Now, I’ve been teaching for 40 years. It is not scientific to teach basic sounds to students. We have an elite group of Ivy League blowhards who have taken something very natural and simple and made it overly complicated. Making current lesson plans or curriculum useless! I have been using a 1980s phonics hand book that one of my student’s mothers gave me. My students score higher than national average every year! For those that need remediation it has proven its worth over time. U Ivy League blowhards should come work in the trenches.

  28. Erlis Murph 6 months ago6 months ago

    This is a very serious problem at our university and our teacher education program. As a staff member, I am looking for creative ways the faculty and staff can come together outside of teacher prep, to better help our students with the exams. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you!

  29. Richard 6 months ago6 months ago

    Ann hits the nail on the head. The problem isn't that teacher candidates have to pass the RICA. The problem is that too many teacher preparation programs in California (and across the country) do not prepare their students to pass the RICA by teaching them the science of reading that is supported by decades of research. This has tragic implications for California students. In 2017, 39% of California 4th grade students scored “below basic” … Read More

    Ann hits the nail on the head. The problem isn’t that teacher candidates have to pass the RICA. The problem is that too many teacher preparation programs in California (and across the country) do not prepare their students to pass the RICA by teaching them the science of reading that is supported by decades of research.

    This has tragic implications for California students. In 2017, 39% of California 4th grade students scored “below basic” as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) that is conducted every two years. 69% of California 4th grade students scored as “below proficient”.

    As I mentioned, this is not a problem specific to California. In September an article and podcast called “Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read?” was published by American Public Media. It is an extremely well researched piece on the history and current state of reading instruction in the US. The reporter, Emily Hanford, focuses on the huge gap between the scientific consensus on effective reading instruction, what is taught in teacher preparation programs, and actual classroom practice. The article has spawned a number of reaction pieces in education-centered news outlets, and recent op-eds in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. A different version of the article was republished by National Public Radio under the title “Why Millions Of Kids Can’t Read, And What Better Teaching Can Do About It.” You can get the original article and podcast here-.

    I truly feel for all of the teacher candidates that struggle to pass the RICA because they did not receive the necessary instruction. But the solution is not to get rid of the test. The solution is to transform teacher preparation programs in the state so that they align with the scientific research on effective reading instruction.

  30. Paola Allendez 6 months ago6 months ago

    Graduating with an honors distinction gave me the opportunity to become a TA at SDSU and teacher for two years Spanish 101, 102 and 103 while I was completing my Masters Degree. However, I took CBEST more than 7 times and I keep failing. I only have $70,000 of student loans to pay. I feel very sad, and frustrated. I worked very hard, but this exam is preventing me from reaching my goals. This is … Read More

    Graduating with an honors distinction gave me the opportunity to become a TA at SDSU and teacher for two years Spanish 101, 102 and 103 while I was completing my Masters Degree. However, I took CBEST more than 7 times and I keep failing. I only have $70,000 of student loans to pay. I feel very sad, and frustrated. I worked very hard, but this exam is preventing me from reaching my goals. This is unfair, this is just a business ! We already graduated from college! Why we should take SAT! or CBEST! I love teaching, I do not want to quit my dreams ! I do not know what else to do! =((

    Please we need to do something. CBEST is just a Mafia that takes our money and time for no reason at all!

    http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=1773146 (my students comments)

    Paola Allendez (Native Spanish teacher)

  31. Teacher 2020 6 months ago6 months ago

    I'm so angry. I've taken the RICA 4 times. I'm going to lose my job and tens of thousands of dollars invested in credential classes will mean nothing. If the CTC is so concerned about reading intervention for special needs classes, then I think all English teachers should be forced to take a special education intervention test. They should have to know all the strategies that I am required to know. They should … Read More

    I’m so angry. I’ve taken the RICA 4 times. I’m going to lose my job and tens of thousands of dollars invested in credential classes will mean nothing. If the CTC is so concerned about reading intervention for special needs classes, then I think all English teachers should be forced to take a special education intervention test. They should have to know all the strategies that I am required to know. They should be able to say what they would do for a nonverbal severely autistic child. They should be able to explain how to write an IEP. They should be required to learn all of the laws pertaining to special needs students in the framework of IDEA.

    I could go on and on!

    Replies

    • Eshe 5 months ago5 months ago

      I absolutely agree with you! Although I did pass the RICA, I am still struggling with the math and science portion of the CSET. However, my credential that I am going for is moderate/ severe pre-K life skills. I am well-versed in basic math, Algebra I, and Algebra II. However maybe I was nervous because I still did not get it right for the test. Now I am without a classroom. … Read More

      I absolutely agree with you! Although I did pass the RICA, I am still struggling with the math and science portion of the CSET. However, my credential that I am going for is moderate/ severe pre-K life skills. I am well-versed in basic math, Algebra I, and Algebra II. However maybe I was nervous because I still did not get it right for the test. Now I am without a classroom. and I really miss my students. I had taught them so many skills but the money that I spent on classes and earning my degree plus the thousands of dollars in the teacher prep program is nothing if you are not able to pass that test, even if it has nothing to do with what you are planning to teach.

  32. Sharon Seibert 6 months ago6 months ago

    After teaching fulltime for over 30 years in CA schools it is very clear to me that teacher standards, as exemplified by these tests, are necessary. Having been asked by inservice teachers and student teachers such questions as "Is Chicago a city or a state?," " There are 12 continents, right?," and "Isn't Celsius what the Brits use instead of pounds?," I am in favor of some qualifying measure of at least basic … Read More

    After teaching fulltime for over 30 years in CA schools it is very clear to me that teacher standards, as exemplified by these tests, are necessary. Having been asked by inservice teachers and student teachers such questions as “Is Chicago a city or a state?,” ” There are 12 continents, right?,” and “Isn’t Celsius what the Brits use instead of pounds?,” I am in favor of some qualifying measure of at least basic cultural and general knowledge.

  33. John Coffey 6 months ago6 months ago

    There is obviously a disconnect between student achievement in elementary schools (abysmal) and teacher prep requirements especially testing that has little if any demonstrated benefit on k-12 student testing. One of the many skills I had to demonstrate to graduate from law school in California was an absolute mastery in spoken and written English. The notion that I would have to take and pass tests and course work to further demonstrate competence in English is … Read More

    There is obviously a disconnect between student achievement in elementary schools (abysmal) and teacher prep requirements especially testing that has little if any demonstrated benefit on k-12 student testing. One of the many skills I had to demonstrate to graduate from law school in California was an absolute mastery in spoken and written English. The notion that I would have to take and pass tests and course work to further demonstrate competence in English is insulting and demeaning. As a substitute teacher based on the CBEST in 1994, my teaching competency in grades 7-12 has also been demonstrated.

    Public education has become a jobs program with zero accountability for results. Reduction in federal financial participation will bring the edurocracy crashing and burning.

  34. Paul 6 months ago6 months ago

    Thomas, my rattling off the list of tests I passed was meant to demonstrate that teacher testing is an exercise -- albeit an exercise that can provide useful signals. I am reminded of a sermon I heard on Scout Sunday, 25 odd years ago. The minister brought in her Girl Scout vest. The boy scouts went up and wanted to know what the different badges were for. She answered that she couldn't remember anymore, and … Read More

    Thomas, my rattling off the list of tests I passed was meant to demonstrate that teacher testing is an exercise — albeit an exercise that can provide useful signals. I am reminded of a sermon I heard on Scout Sunday, 25 odd years ago. The minister brought in her Girl Scout vest. The boy scouts went up and wanted to know what the different badges were for. She answered that she couldn’t remember anymore, and that the experience of earning them meant more than the badges themselves.

    I’ve railed many times on these pages against the statement in California’s old math framework that timed tests (and by implication, standardized, multiple-choice ones) are the best way to measure math proficiency. But there’s one useful part: such tests can provide signals about math fluency.

    I argued against eliminating the CSET and RICA testing programs (I don’t care about the CBEST) because I believe that teacher candidates should know (or learn) stuff not for the sake of passing tests, but for the sake of teaching effectively. The knowledge is intrinsically valuable.

    I admitted clearly that a teacher’s effectiveness might have nothing to do with the person’s own academic achievement. Still, if someone fails (for example) the math/science subtest of the CSET Multiple Subjects two times, this generally says something about the person’s level of knowledge. The gap can be filled, but it’s more likely to be filled temporarily, through test preparation (“cramming”), than durably, in a way that will benefit the teacher’s students over the next 25 years.

    Though I don’t know and can’t in any way speak about your personal situation, I want to point out to other readers that if a test-taker has a disability, NES and all other state test vendors are legally required to provide, and do provide, accommodations.

    There’s an important parallel here: some of the specific knowledge tested in various CSET subtests, in the RICA, and in the TPA (a series of projects, not a discrete test) helps teachers convey content to English Learners, students with disabilities, and students with diverse cultural backgrounds. The techniques are not simple or intuitive. If they were, the achievement gap would have been closed decades ago. It is vitally important to test teacher candidates on skills for educating all students. The classroom is a place where equity begins.

    Last but not least, the RICA is offered in two variants, a traditional, “written” test and a holistic assessment, whereby the candidate submits a teaching video demonstrating the required reading instruction skills.

    Ann is completely correct about professors’ attachment to non-evidence-based ways of teaching reading. Wouldn’t it be better to fix the credential courses than to drop the RICA because the courses are bad?

    Replies

    • Thomas 6 months ago6 months ago

      Paul, If a student makes it through a credential program in state, I feel they should get their preliminary credential and then after two years of teaching they should get their credential. No extra money for Pearson and all these companies that make millions off of students. My credential program did a great job teaching reading and 98 percent passed the RICA – not all on the first try but the majority. … Read More

      Paul, If a student makes it through a credential program in state, I feel they should get their preliminary credential and then after two years of teaching they should get their credential. No extra money for Pearson and all these companies that make millions off of students. My credential program did a great job teaching reading and 98 percent passed the RICA – not all on the first try but the majority. With that said, not all multi subject teachers have taken it, out-of-state teachers are not required or teachers that already have their credential.

      When I asked for accommodations, I was denied, even though throughout my college time I was given accommodations. I firmly believe that testing has nothing to do with how good of a teacher you will be.

      • Genevieve 6 months ago6 months ago

        Very well said!! There are many teachers who have been teaching (before all the required tests were added) that have said that if their job depended on passing the CSET, they'd be unemployed. If one aspiring teacher is required to take it, why not get all teachers to take it. This will show the true meaning of the "test" and who is really qualified. ALL teachers having to take the "required tests" will make plenty … Read More

        Very well said!! There are many teachers who have been teaching (before all the required tests were added) that have said that if their job depended on passing the CSET, they’d be unemployed. If one aspiring teacher is required to take it, why not get all teachers to take it. This will show the true meaning of the “test” and who is really qualified. ALL teachers having to take the “required tests” will make plenty of money for the testing companies. My humble opinion.

        • Mark 5 months ago5 months ago

          We’re in the middle of a teaching shortage. Teachers are leaving the field for a host of reasons: cost of living vs. salary in California, increased bureaucracy, lack of supplies, lack of respect, etc. You want to drive more teachers out of the field with retroactive testing requirements? And, who will they be replaced by? No one, is the answer.

  35. Stephen P. Blum, Esq. 6 months ago6 months ago

    The CBEST was instituted in the mid 1980’s. Other tests were added after that. There is no evidence, to my knowledge, that they have improved the quality of instructors in California. Teaching ability is not measured by them. I was a union leader for decades and worked with numerous teachers who were let go or put on improvement plans. Poor knowledge of the subject(s) was never at issue. It was always soft people … Read More

    The CBEST was instituted in the mid 1980’s. Other tests were added after that. There is no evidence, to my knowledge, that they have improved the quality of instructors in California. Teaching ability is not measured by them.

    I was a union leader for decades and worked with numerous teachers who were let go or put on improvement plans. Poor knowledge of the subject(s) was never at issue. It was always soft people skills and/or teaching abilities that were not up to speed.

    Keeping these tests as a requirement to obtain a teaching credential is misguided. They sound like a good idea, but it has not been backed with empirical data to be the case.

    In light of the current and growing teacher shortage, they should be examined and/or lessened or discontinued. They should probably be treated like the High School Exit Exam and be discontinued.

  36. Thomas 6 months ago6 months ago

    Wow, Paul you are amazing! You are so smart and gifted I’m sorry that we are all not up to your standards. And Ann you are right up there with Paul, no flaws in you guys. I have passed the CSETS and CBEST and know many that have had difficulty passing them. The RICA I have taken 3 times, the last time by 3 points. I have difficulty testing and I have some … Read More

    Wow, Paul you are amazing! You are so smart and gifted I’m sorry that we are all not up to your standards. And Ann you are right up there with Paul, no flaws in you guys.

    I have passed the CSETS and CBEST and know many that have had difficulty passing them. The RICA I have taken 3 times, the last time by 3 points. I have difficulty testing and I have some memory issues. While in the military I suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). I have taught K-6 for the last four year and one year in first grade. I lost that job because I didn’t pass the RICA. My administration, parents and teachers all loved me. None of these test says anything about how good of teacher you are or will be.

  37. Paul 6 months ago6 months ago

    Someone who fails the CSET - Multiple Subjects twice should consider another profession. Trouble with the math/science subtest is a red flag. Students taught by an elementary teacher with limited math skills could miss out on notation, habits of thought, or even entire math concepts. (Trouble with the reading/language/literature/social science subtest would also be a red flag.) The knowledge needed to pass the RICA can be obtained from a single book about teaching reading. Candidates who … Read More

    Someone who fails the CSET – Multiple Subjects twice should consider another profession. Trouble with the math/science subtest is a red flag. Students taught by an elementary teacher with limited math skills could miss out on notation, habits of thought, or even entire math concepts. (Trouble with the reading/language/literature/social science subtest would also be a red flag.)

    The knowledge needed to pass the RICA can be obtained from a single book about teaching reading. Candidates who have studied a second language or who approach language deliberately and intentionally do have an advantage.

    I believe that the RICA should be required of single subject (typically middle- and high school), not just multiple subjects (elementary school) and special education credential candidates. Just as some elementary teachers are weak in math, some secondary teachers give short shrift to reading (typically comprehension, but sometimes also discrete skills such as word analysis). Reading instruction continues in all grades and subjects.

    Some years ago I read a study that found that teachers tend to have been middling undergraduates. Another report claimed that the numerous tests to which we subject teacher candidates act like a bandpass filter, excluding the lowest academic performers but also the highest ones (who won’t bother jumping through hoops). Of course, if a teacher’s own academic record makes any difference to the person’s effectiveness, high academic performance is only a necessary, not a sufficient, condition.

    It is no surprise that people with a range of career alternatives opt against teaching. Boosting teachers’ lifetime earnings, job security, decision-making authority and professional status would be far more effective for recruitment than eliminating a few entry tests.

    Over a three-year period, while working as a substitute teacher and completing a graduate degree unrelated to teaching, I passed the CBEST, an old locally-administered US Constitution test (no longer accepted), the CSET Multiple Subjects, the CSET Single Subject Mathematics, the CSET Single Subject French, the CSET for bilingual French, the CSET for computer concepts (no longer accepted), the RICA, the Teaching Foundations Exam (TFE) for elementary grades (replaced by the APK – Elementary), and the TFE for math (replaced by another APK variant), each on the first try. A year later, I had passed the TPA (a series of four major assignments, not a test per se).

    I earned my credentials without setting foot in a teacher’s college, other than for a required 80-hour introductory class (which turned out to be excellent), a class in English Language Development (also wonderful), a semester of observation, evaluation of my TPA tasks, and an elementary methods course (great professor, dull program).

    By the time I became fully-credentialed, I had accumulated many times more hours of classroom experience (and experience of a more responsible character, as teacher of record) than people who complete their credentials the traditional way. The testing was a fun challenge, and the perfect doorway for a hard-working, independent learner.

  38. Belinda Lesser 6 months ago6 months ago

    I’ve been teaching and tutoring 5th-11th grade math for over 30 years. I’m pretty much a math nerd. A very sweet woman came to me for assistance to pass the current version of CBEST so she can begin the process to get her teaching credential to teach pre-K and potentially kindergarten. Since we know that traditional standardized testing does not necessarily correlate with workplace success, I am wondering why a pre-K teacher … Read More

    I’ve been teaching and tutoring 5th-11th grade math for over 30 years. I’m pretty much a math nerd. A very sweet woman came to me for assistance to pass the current version of CBEST so she can begin the process to get her teaching credential to teach pre-K and potentially kindergarten.

    Since we know that traditional standardized testing does not necessarily correlate with workplace success, I am wondering why a pre-K teacher candidate is required to be able to solve a quadratic equation and know trigonometric relationships from memory to begin a teacher training program. The obsession with so much testing is counter-productive. There are numerous other ways to determine if a person would be a wonderfully skilled teacher other than through a standardized test on material not related to what will be used on the job.

  39. ann 6 months ago6 months ago

    Regarding the comments below, RICA (Reading Instruction Competence Assessment) is a test to show a teacher has been trained and is competent to teach reading. Having taken (and passed the first time), I can say in my case it was due to having a fantastic professor in my credential program who was an expert at early reading instruction. Of course I totally lucked out because she only taught this class one year before moving on. … Read More

    Regarding the comments below, RICA (Reading Instruction Competence Assessment) is a test to show a teacher has been trained and is competent to teach reading. Having taken (and passed the first time), I can say in my case it was due to having a fantastic professor in my credential program who was an expert at early reading instruction. Of course I totally lucked out because she only taught this class one year before moving on. The other professors were either not familiar with evidence-based reading instruction research or resisted it and insisted on teaching failed strategies like ‘whole language.’ Their future teachers did not have the benefit of learning about phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension and how these elements are introduced, practiced and assessed to assure students learn to read well with comprehension. Many didn’t pass RICA the first time, then resorted to purchasing RICA test prep books. By the way the pass score for RICA was quite low, 65-70 percent, I believe. I think CBEST is an even lower bar.

    Twenty years on I have helped dozens of new teachers who are at a loss and frustrated lacking the skills and knowledge to teach and assess reading. Every district spends $$$$ bringing in consultants to teach already employed teachers how to teach reading! Some of this “professional development” is as bad as those other professors my colleagues encountered. It has been shown that our schools of education have not effectively taught reading instruction to pre-teachers for several decades, practicing a sort of ideological resistance to the well established science of reading instruction. Many if not most California ed schools are among the worst. And the answer to all this is to get rid of the test? Just as we did with CAHSEE, college placement tests, and is under consideration to solve the low pass rate for the state bar exam? Does this solve or create a serious problem for the future ?

  40. Carrie 6 months ago6 months ago

    While CSET can be broken down into smaller tests and has many free seminars to help one pass, unfortunately RICA does not. RICA is the last step to obtaining your preliminary teaching credential. Unfortunately, this step is what is holding most of us back. The only seminars for RICA are possibly found throughout the web for pay. For CTA to state that this test has a 65% pass rate is false. It “may” be 65% … Read More

    While CSET can be broken down into smaller tests and has many free seminars to help one pass, unfortunately RICA does not. RICA is the last step to obtaining your preliminary teaching credential. Unfortunately, this step is what is holding most of us back. The only seminars for RICA are possibly found throughout the web for pay. For CTA to state that this test has a 65% pass rate is false. It “may” be 65% overall, after a potential teachers has retaken this test as many time possible. I have taken this test several times and cannot pass and I have known potential teachers that have quit their dream of teaching after failing 10x.

    The solution would be for the state to find different routes to either get creditentials or put a freeze on the tests for awhile.

  41. Anes 6 months ago6 months ago

    I believe and agree. Standardized testing don’t measure how teachers can teach. It’s a business to drain money from teachers to be and our kids bundled up in 50s in one class. RICA has kept a lot of teachers out and out kids suffering. CTC, go for the change.

  42. Julia McEvoy 6 months ago6 months ago

    Diana, did you look at the test yourself? Or take it? It would be interesting to have an example of some of the problems on the test to better understand its difficulty.

  43. JudiAU 6 months ago6 months ago

    So okay SAT/ACT/AP score allows you to bypass these examinations? It seems like the tests are needed to insure we have teachers with basic skills.

    The real issue is why are so few good students drawn to teaching?

  44. Bill Conrad 6 months ago6 months ago

    Maybe we could give potential teacher candidates a coloring book and a box of crayons. If they color within the lines using the right colors, they can become teachers! That would guarantee that we have plenty of teachers for our children. No need to pass easy standardized tests! And our student results across the state would continue to demonstrate the poor caliber of our teaching force overall. Such a nuisance. Maybe … Read More

    Maybe we could give potential teacher candidates a coloring book and a box of crayons. If they color within the lines using the right colors, they can become teachers! That would guarantee that we have plenty of teachers for our children. No need to pass easy standardized tests! And our student results across the state would continue to demonstrate the poor caliber of our teaching force overall.

    Such a nuisance. Maybe othere professions would consider this new and innovative method for credentialing. Forget about making sure that the Colleges of Education actually prepare the weak candidates that they attract for teaching. 2.5 generations before we fix this mess! More fog but now with colors!

    Replies

    • Ed 6 months ago6 months ago

      Really Bill. Your comment is insulting and juvenile.