Photo: Julie Leopo/EdSource
This post was updated to correct the type of institution that can request a variable-term waiver.

The coronavirus pandemic won’t prevent most teacher candidates from moving into California classrooms next school year, even if they have yet to complete all the normally required student teaching hours or certification tests.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing voted Thursday to give university teacher preparation programs wide latitude to decide when teacher candidates are prepared to move onto the classroom. The commission made its decision during a virtual meeting attended by more than 550 viewers. It affects students who are on track to complete their coursework between March 19 and Sept. 1.

California expects 26,000 teachers, principals and other administrators, speech-language pathologists and school psychologists, counselors, social workers, nurses and librarians to graduate this school year, according to the commission. The majority are studying to get their teaching credential.

Commissioners voted to temporarily waive the 600 hours of student teaching normally required to earn a teaching credential. It will allow university faculty in the program where the student teacher is enrolled to decide how many hours each candidate needs.

It is recommending that universities consider whether a candidate has passed the Teaching Performance Assessment, which measures their knowledge and skill as a teacher, when deciding how much student teaching a candidate should complete.

Student teaching, generally regarded as an essential part of a teacher’s training, was largely discontinued after teacher preparation programs ended in-person instruction across the state due to the coronavirus.

Justine Phipps, 23, a student in the teacher preparation program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a California State University campus, approved of the move but worried about missing out on valuable student teaching hours. The coronavirus abruptly ended her student teaching program just 50 hours before she was to complete it.

She would have moved on to the final portion of her teacher training — working with students on her own for two full weeks. She had previously spent three days a week student teaching.

Phipps has a job waiting for her next school year at Cipriani Elementary School in Belmont-Redwood Shores Unified.

“There are some unsettling feelings about it, because I am missing out on that full-time experience,” Phipps said. She wonders about “the day-to-day process” and what a full week teaching in a classroom would have looked like had she been able to continue student teaching.

Centers that administer a range of tests that teachers need to take to get their credential also have been closed as a result of the pandemic, preventing teacher candidates from completing required testing. Thursday the commission voted to defer the basic skills requirement, usually satisfied by taking the California Basic Education Skills Test, for credential candidates that haven’t completed the tests. The teacher candidate will have to take the test at the next available opportunity.

The commission can give candidates a little more time to pass tests. But most are required by state law, and only the Legislature has the power to eliminate them. State law doesn’t allow the commission to suspend the California Basic Education Skills Test for those who have failed the test, according to the commission.

Some of those calling in to the commission meeting during the comment part of the meeting on Thursday asked commissioners to recommend that Gov. Gavin Newsom eliminate some of the tests altogether.

Commission President Tine Sloan said that the commission is doing all it is allowed by law to help teacher candidates impacted by the coronavirus epidemic. She said it is working with Newsom on an executive order and legislation that could remove additional hurdles for teacher candidates.

“There are things we can do and those are on your agenda,” Sloan told her fellow commissioners. “Everything we can bring to bear and you can take action on is on your (commission) agenda.”

The commission also voted to allow credential programs to request so-called “variable term waivers” from the commission for candidates who have not completed all their credentialing requirements, such as exams, coursework and practice hours due to the pandemic. The waivers will allow teachers to complete those requirements while they work as teachers. The waivers are limited to candidates who, before the crisis struck, were on track to complete all their classes by Sept. 2020.

Action by the commission also gave a reprieve to new teachers and administrators, whose efforts to complete a required two-year “induction” program were cut short by the pandemic. The commission agreed that those who were on track to complete the program can earn credit for a full year of induction this year.

An induction program, which takes place during the first two to three years of a teacher and administrator’s career, is required to earn a full credential. It includes mentoring, one-on-one coaching, continuing education and observations from veteran teachers and administrators to provide feedback and improvement.

Commissioners said they will continue to evaluate the needs of teacher candidates during the crisis.

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  1. Lissette 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    The governor needs to eliminate the CalTPA and edTPA. We (teachers) have enough on our plate to continue worrying about this type of testing. I call all teachers and prospective teachers to continue commenting and fighting for the removal of the CalTPA and edTPA. We don’t need a test to prove we are good teachers because we already get evaluated by supervisors on our university, our school mentors and our administrators!

  2. Kay 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    I was slated to student teach in the Spring. I will be officially done with my teacher prep courses this Fall. What’s going to happen? The university I attend has been extremely quiet over everything. Will they grant my preliminary, or not?

    Replies

    • Lissette 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      I recommend you to email your department asap. They have to give you the letter of recommendation, they also have to submitted to CTC so they can grant you the prelim credential. Contact, email and bother them until they get it done. I did that on my school and they sent the rec letter to CTS.

  3. Kat 3 months ago3 months ago

    What is going to be happen to the student teachers in the fall when there is a second wave of covid-19? None of this has been addressed by the CTC. So many other states have waived tests and edTPAs yet California is doing nothing to support student teachers. They want student teachers to be flexible and provide accommodations for students yet are doing nothing to help us. I am completely heartbroken by this system.

  4. Jackie 3 months ago3 months ago

    That’s great but I have failed to see any assistance for those currently teaching on short-term staff permits, provisional permits or those entering an intern program in the fall. In addition, testing will continue to be required while the stay at home order is in place. We already have a teacher shortage and expecting them to pass a test while dealing with all of the other COVID situations seems unfair. Extend the timeline requirements for a year by Executive Order.

  5. Tania P 3 months ago3 months ago

    There are an extraordinary number of student teachers across the state that feel frustrated, disenfranchised, and forgotten by the CTC. The CTC is neglecting a significant number of people who have invested so much of their time and money to earn their credentials, only to have their student teaching experience negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been no consideration by the state or CTC for those student teachers who, through no fault of … Read More

    There are an extraordinary number of student teachers across the state that feel frustrated, disenfranchised, and forgotten by the CTC. The CTC is neglecting a significant number of people who have invested so much of their time and money to earn their credentials, only to have their student teaching experience negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been no consideration by the state or CTC for those student teachers who, through no fault of their own, will not be able to complete the TPA as it is currently designed. One of the most important lessons we learn as emerging teachers is to advocate for our students and create culturally responsive and equitable learning environments – qualities that the CTC has failed to show the teachers they credential when they decided to go forward with the TPA.

    If you would like to join a group that plans to advocate on behalf of all Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 student teachers, email engaged.communitylb@gmail [dot] com.

  6. Liz Mitchell 3 months ago3 months ago

    I appreciate the flexibility of the CTC. However, I plead that the CTC urge Governor Newsom to issue an executive order to waive cycle 2 TPA for credential students affected by the Coronavirus. By waiving the last TPA we (credential candidates) are still meeting the professional standards of a California educator. I have had to take 6 tests to prove I am a qualified educator (CBEST, 3 CSETs, RICA, & TPA cycle 1). Plus, once … Read More

    I appreciate the flexibility of the CTC. However, I plead that the CTC urge Governor Newsom to issue an executive order to waive cycle 2 TPA for credential students affected by the Coronavirus. By waiving the last TPA we (credential candidates) are still meeting the professional standards of a California educator. I have had to take 6 tests to prove I am a qualified educator (CBEST, 3 CSETs, RICA, & TPA cycle 1).

    Plus, once we finish the program it’s not like we get our real credential. It’s preliminary, meaning we have two years to “prove” once again we are qualified individuals. The first year of teaching is the hardest. Plus, teacher hopefuls will be getting into the profession after a catastrophic worldwide event. Students will be returning to school with trauma and learning loss. Please let us focus on teaching and don’t let us get bogged down with TPA cycle 2. I ask you once more, to please urge Governor Newsom to waive TPA cycle 2.

    Replies

    • Scott 3 months ago3 months ago

      I totally agree with you. TPA 2 is all I have left to do. I was planning on doing the video portion the last 3 weeks before Spring break and then the write-up during break. If this was waived, that would be awesome. We could start induction and be on a preliminary credential.

  7. Angelica Montes 4 months ago4 months ago

    As someone who spoke out during this meeting I am happy that our voices were heard but thousands of other voices are being silenced. As a first generation college student it has been amazing to work alongside dedicated teachers who strive in this environment. It is unfortunate that myself and many other will “take a pay cut” and receive a waiver instead of a preliminary credential because of covid-19. They need to follow the steps … Read More

    As someone who spoke out during this meeting I am happy that our voices were heard but thousands of other voices are being silenced. As a first generation college student it has been amazing to work alongside dedicated teachers who strive in this environment. It is unfortunate that myself and many other will “take a pay cut” and receive a waiver instead of a preliminary credential because of covid-19. They need to follow the steps on New York and grant student teachers their credentials and waive edTPA AND RICA. I will gain more than enough classroom experience during my first year of teaching. Gavin Newson need to make an executive order to help our the millions of students that are in K-12 California school system. I also haven’t even mentioned the fact that this affects a lot of underprivileged people of color who rely on these teachers for academic support, care, food. Etc.

  8. Will W 4 months ago4 months ago

    So they waive the 600 hours of student teaching, but will not waive the RICA?? How does that make sense? If the RICA was removed, thousands of teachers who already completed a program, but can not be recommended to the CTC for their preliminary credential would be in the classrooms this fall. The RICA is the only thing preventing me from re-entering the classroom! 🙁

    Replies

    • erika 3 months ago3 months ago

      I am totally with you! I am in the exact same situation as you. So not fair. They seriously need to get eliminate the RICA for everyone who has completed everything but the RICA and allow the people after that to either skip the RICA or have an alternative. Right now, it is either the exam or a video assessment which sadly has a lower passing rate.

  9. Marc Romero 4 months ago4 months ago

    Great reporting.

    I’m not sure if this will help me. Like the person that has taken 12 years to complete program!
    I’m in this situation , my program only required that I pass the RICA! How can I get clarification, so that when applying for teaching positions, that I’m not overlooked by some school districts credential analysts.

  10. Brooke Rahn 4 months ago4 months ago

    The commission still has not addressed the issue surrounding Cycle 2 of the TPA and current teaching interns. I am an intern with SCOE and we were on track to finish Cycle 2 and earn our preliminary credential when schools shut suddenly on March 13. Since then we have been unable to provide the required synchronous video of ourselves teaching 3-5 lessons to our students. The challenges and complexities of sudden online learning make it … Read More

    The commission still has not addressed the issue surrounding Cycle 2 of the TPA and current teaching interns. I am an intern with SCOE and we were on track to finish Cycle 2 and earn our preliminary credential when schools shut suddenly on March 13. Since then we have been unable to provide the required synchronous video of ourselves teaching 3-5 lessons to our students. The challenges and complexities of sudden online learning make it impossible to provide video evidence of our teaching practice and the TPA still demands this of us.

    As interns we have already worked for two full school years as the teacher of record. We have passed Cycle 1 of the TPA and completed 2.5 years of teacher education classes. The CTC keeps saying they have no jurisdiction over the legal aspects of requiring the TPA, but they must advocate for us to whomever does have the power or they will lose valuable teachers with classroom experience just when they need us the most. Illinois’ governor just waived the TPA as a requirement for credential candidates due to COVID-19 closures and California should follow suit. Please don’t forget about the teacher interns! Please help us stay in our classrooms next year! Our students need us there in the fall.

  11. Lea 4 months ago4 months ago

    As a student enrolled in a credential program, this is my 12th year working towards my career and making something of myself. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am. The CSET scheduling across the board has been relating no available testing dates even when centers open. There are no available test dates for students whose tests were cancelled. I was on track to pass my tests, signed up, paid and everything and … Read More

    As a student enrolled in a credential program, this is my 12th year working towards my career and making something of myself. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am. The CSET scheduling across the board has been relating no available testing dates even when centers open. There are no available test dates for students whose tests were cancelled.

    I was on track to pass my tests, signed up, paid and everything and they were cancelled. And now I’m told there is no available dates all of 2020 making it impossible to pass any required test. This is the case for many. Please reach out to test centers.

    Replies

    • Rachel 4 months ago4 months ago

      You should check with your credential advisor. Sounds like universities are allowed to request individual waivers for certain things, including exams, for people that were on track to finish by September 2020. If that wasn't your timeline, there's a good chance you'll be able to take your exams before you were slated to finish your program. As for the centers having nothing available through December, I would imagine that they will open up dates as … Read More

      You should check with your credential advisor. Sounds like universities are allowed to request individual waivers for certain things, including exams, for people that were on track to finish by September 2020. If that wasn’t your timeline, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to take your exams before you were slated to finish your program. As for the centers having nothing available through December, I would imagine that they will open up dates as soon as they’re allowed to open test centers. I would keep checking the scheduling sites, you’ll want to grab an appointment ASAP because I’m sure when they do open they’ll be at lowered capacity to enable social distancing. I once cut it way too close to the deadline to pass one of the CSETs, so I drove to a test center almost 100 miles away

      Chin up, Lea! I have a student teacher right now; I know how nerve-racking the last two months have been with your future hanging in limbo. You got this!

    • Theresa Dark 4 months ago4 months ago

      Lea, I am also in the same boat. In order to keep my job for next year on an emergency credential, I need to pass my math single subject CSETs. Arguably one of the hardest CSETs. It has been a year of me taking them 8 times without passing. I just want to teach middle school math! Now I can't try again until late July and results do not come back till August, when school … Read More

      Lea,

      I am also in the same boat. In order to keep my job for next year on an emergency credential, I need to pass my math single subject CSETs. Arguably one of the hardest CSETs. It has been a year of me taking them 8 times without passing. I just want to teach middle school math! Now I can’t try again until late July and results do not come back till August, when school already started. Hopefully more spots will open up or the take the test away.

      • Amber Williams 3 months ago3 months ago

        I am a middle school teacher with my permit expiring without passing the math cset as well. I can’t even enroll in an intern program without that test so I can continue teaching. No idea what I am going to do and now Newsom is considering opening schools in July? I can’t even take the test and get results before then so I am guess I am getting fired ….