Photo: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
Gov. Gavin Newsom takes questions from kindergarten students during his visit to the Ethel I. Baker Elementary School in Sacramento on Oct. 7, 2019.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has suspended state testing requirements for teacher candidates impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in an executive order issued Saturday morning.

The order allows eligible teacher candidates to earn preliminary credentials without taking either the California Teaching Performance Assessment or the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment. It also allows students to enter teacher preparation programs without passing the California Basic Education Skills Test and teacher candidates to enter internship programs without passing required tests in the California Subject Examinations for Teachers because testing centers were closed. 

Newsom didn’t waive the tests altogether, but allows teacher candidates to take some tests later in their teacher preparation programs and some before earning a clear credential.

“Because of COVID, our new teachers missed significant portions of their preparation to teach,” said Tine Sloan, chairwoman of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. “This solution will support them to carry on, and ensure they are prepared to give their best to students this fall. We are grateful to the administration and all who worked on these solutions.”

State officials have expressed concern over teacher shortages in schools in rural and low-income areas and in high-needs subjects like science, math, bilingual education and special education. The result of the shortages has been a record number of teachers in classrooms who have not completed teaching preparation programs or have received only partial training. 

The coronavirus pandemic has created a situation in which more than half of the teachers and administrators in preparation programs this year were unable to complete all credential requirements due to school closures, said Mary Vixie Sandy, executive director of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. 

Newsom’s executive order comes just weeks after the California Assembly Education Committee, concerned that coronavirus-related campus and testing center closures would keep needed teachers out of classrooms, approved legislation that would have temporarily allowed California teacher candidates to take fewer tests to prove they are ready to teach. It’s not clear if the legislation, which would expire in three years, is still being considered by legislators.

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing passed several resolutions in April that would make it easier for teacher candidates to move into classrooms despite hurdles created by campus and testing site closures due to the pandemic. The commission voted to waive the 600-hour requirement for student teaching, allowed university programs to apply for “variable term waivers” for candidates who have not completed all their credentialing requirements and allow teacher candidates more time to take some tests.

Almost all teachers are required to pass these four tests:

  • 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.

About 40 percent of the 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 commission has been looking to reform the entire landscape of tests and assessments that teachers have to take to enter the profession and has held meetings and workshops over the last four years to consider potential changes or replacements to exams. 

Newsom’s executive order gives a reprieve to teacher candidates who were in the process of completing the Teaching Performance Assessment while working at a school that closed during the coronavirus pandemic. They can earn a preliminary credential without completing the test if they have completed all other requirements for the credential. They will be required to complete the assessment to earn a clear credential. 

The executive order also allows candidates in education administration programs to earn a preliminary administrative services credential without having to take the California Administrator Performance Assessment.

With their preliminary credential, these teachers and administrators will be able to accept jobs and complete these assessments during their induction program with support from their program mentors and coaches, Sandy said.

Teacher candidates who were unable to complete the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment because testing centers were closed between March 19 and Aug. 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic will not have to pass the test to earn a preliminary credential. They will have to pass the test before earning a clear credential, however.

The order allows students to gain admission to teacher credential programs without passing the CBEST if they were unable to take the exam between March 19 and Aug. 31 because testing centers were closed. They must pass the test while in the teacher preparation program and before being recommended for a preliminary credential.

The executive order also waived the requirement that applicants to a university intern credential program complete a subject matter examination before entering the program if they were impacted by testing center closures between March 19 and Aug. 31. They have to pass the test before earning a preliminary credential.

While some testing centers are reopening and are offering online testing, they are at about half of their usual capacity, Sandy said. 

“In the midst of unprecedented uncertainty, the executive order gives up to 8,000 new teachers and school administrators certitude about their futures and their careers,” Sandy said.  “It will save first-year teachers money and time by allowing them to move into the classroom more quickly. The order addresses hardships created by Covid-19 and benefits new teachers at a critical point in their careers. Equally importantly, it benefits the students of the state of California who will be served by this cohort of well-prepared, enthusiastic classroom teachers and administrators. In addition, the order allows more than 10,000 prospective teachers to enter the preparation pipeline next year, enabling the state to continue making progress on shoring up its teaching ranks and addressing chronic shortages.”

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  1. Wakeysha Taylor 6 days ago6 days ago

    If you are still struggling to pass the RICA, I went to youtube and found this man Chris Boosalis and I ordered his book. Please review every video he posted and his book is helpful too. I struggled 4 times trying to pass this test and would not give up until I found something that worked. My fifth time taking this test, I passed. I wish I found this sooner, it would have saved me … Read More

    If you are still struggling to pass the RICA, I went to youtube and found this man Chris Boosalis and I ordered his book. Please review every video he posted and his book is helpful too. I struggled 4 times trying to pass this test and would not give up until I found something that worked. My fifth time taking this test, I passed. I wish I found this sooner, it would have saved me a lot of frustration.

    I gave my colleague this link and the book I bought and she passed the RICA on the first try. She has passed this along to other teachers who need to pass the RICA as well. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/user/chrisboosalis
    Good luck and I know exactly what you are going through.

  2. Nancy Gonzalez 1 week ago1 week ago

    What about school psychologist interns?

  3. Jess Rodriguez 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    What about the BCLAD CSETS that are required for dual-immersion programs?

  4. K 1 month ago1 month ago

    Thank you for this article! I was wondering if this is a for sure thing for the time being? Also I am not sure if I overlooked it but how long would this be in effect?

    Replies

    • K 1 month ago1 month ago

      Also, regarding the CBEST, would we be earning a preliminary credential? Until we take it which would grant us the actual credential? Thank you again!

  5. Esther S. 1 month ago1 month ago

    Diana, thank you for these informative articles! I am wondering, does this disregard the approved legislation regarding the two bills? Or are they still considering those different options? Thank you!

  6. Michelle 1 month ago1 month ago

    What about private school teachers with over 10 years of experience ? We are still considered teacher candidates and are unable to take the CSET currently due to the corona virus! Does it apply to us as well? A lot of us are being laid off and we need help getting our CA credential

  7. Seth 1 month ago1 month ago

    I am not certain this a good thing for any length of time. I been an educator for 25 years and noticed how the improvement and quality of teachers started coming in with these assessments. The tests are not hard and if would-be teachers cannot pass them, then they should not be a teacher. Sorry, but we need to have quality teachers who know their content, know how to teach reading, and know how to design an effective lesson.

    Replies

    • Dylan 1 month ago1 month ago

      If you read her previous article, there is zero evidence that assessments equate to teaching efficacy.

    • Megan 1 month ago1 month ago

      The tests have nothing to do with knowing content or how great of a teacher you are. That is just rude, like you said you have been teaching for 25 years and you didn’t need to take all of these tests. No one is saying anything about your teaching. Tests do no show what kind of teacher you are. That is for the district to decide.

  8. Carrie 1 month ago1 month ago

    RICA has been a roadblock for me since 2016 when I finished my program. The guidelines state that RICA has been moved to Clear Credential requirement, instead of a Preliminary one. Unfortunately, my program told me that they won’t be recommending me, because they say the executive order is only for current 2019-2020 students. So, I’m at a loss at getting my preliminary credential. It’s like I’m in limbo. I am not classified as … Read More

    RICA has been a roadblock for me since 2016 when I finished my program. The guidelines state that RICA has been moved to Clear Credential requirement, instead of a Preliminary one. Unfortunately, my program told me that they won’t be recommending me, because they say the executive order is only for current 2019-2020 students. So, I’m at a loss at getting my preliminary credential. It’s like I’m in limbo. I am not classified as a student, but you can’t get the recommendation unless you the program recommends you. If it takes you 10 years to pass RICA, your old program will be the only one to recommend you. So, I’m at a loss and won’t be able to finally get a teaching position with an actual teaching salary.

    Replies

    • Will 1 month ago1 month ago

      I would ask them again. Number 3 pertaining to the RICA, nowhere does it mention a 2019-2020 year. It simply says if you were unable to tests during the time frame they listed.

  9. Lilian A. 1 month ago1 month ago

    Where can I get further information as to what universities will be waiving these tests? I’ve been stuck on the CSET and couldn’t continue my credential program.

  10. Linda 1 month ago1 month ago

    What if you passed all three but it was over 10 years ago. I just started the teacher program but have been an aide in the district for several years. Why do I need to pass the CSET and RICA again?

  11. Stephanie Saul 1 month ago1 month ago

    Nowhere in the Executive Order does it state teachers will have to pass RICA before clearing credential. The order refers only to “CTC-approved teacher performance assessment.” Please clarify how you know it will be RICA?

    Replies

  12. Diana Lambert 1 month ago1 month ago

    The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is hosting an informational meeting at 2 p.m. today on the executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom Saturday that suspends testing for teachers impacted by the coronavirus.
    Go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81435741775 to join the Zoom meeting. The webinar ID is 814 3574 1775.

    International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kWqtabeTP

    Replies

    • Cherone Cabezudo 1 month ago1 month ago

      Diana, thanks for keeping educators and teacher candidates informed on the current state of affairs as it pertains to credentialing legislation. I have been following your articles on the reporting of changing the testing landscape for teachers in California for several months now. I am one of the many thousands of teacher candidates that have completed a teaching program, obtained a master's degree, and passed all of the required exams with the exception of … Read More

      Diana, thanks for keeping educators and teacher candidates informed on the current state of affairs as it pertains to credentialing legislation. I have been following your articles on the reporting of changing the testing landscape for teachers in California for several months now.

      I am one of the many thousands of teacher candidates that have completed a teaching program, obtained a master’s degree, and passed all of the required exams with the exception of the RICA. In spite of this very disheartening reality, I have been teaching and impacting lives in incredible ways in my classroom as a teacher intern for the past few years. Now that my intern credential is almost expired and while we are in a state of flux due to COVID-19, I have dedicated countless hours, days, and weeks to preparing to retake the RICA for the 3rd time in 12 months. Like so many before me, I grapple with my inability as a highly educated, multiple degree holding, and gifted educator to pass this very subjective exam. I am wondering if during your investigative reporting of the disproportionality of teacher candidates who are unable to pass these preliminary teaching credential exams, how close is the California legislature to eliminating or restructuring the testing landscape?

  13. Cherone Cabezudo 1 month ago1 month ago

    Good morning and hooray for teachers and teacher candidates all across this great state who give so much of themselves to educate and inspire future generations of amazing minds in spite of the bureaucratic shenanigans and monopolistic control of Pearson. The collusion between the CCTC and Pearson has polluted the testing landscape and blocked the future of thousands of aspiring California educators. Here is the actual executive order signed by Governor Newsom on … Read More

    Good morning and hooray for teachers and teacher candidates all across this great state who give so much of themselves to educate and inspire future generations of amazing minds in spite of the bureaucratic shenanigans and monopolistic control of Pearson. The collusion between the CCTC and Pearson has polluted the testing landscape and blocked the future of thousands of aspiring California educators. Here is the actual executive order signed by Governor Newsom on May 30, 2020. This is definitely a win for educators and students alike!!

    https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/5.29.20-EO-N-66-20.pdf

    Replies

    • Nirmal kaur 1 month ago1 month ago

      Hey, I tried to take CBEST three times, but didn’t pass. I had master’s degree. Is there anything for me, that I can try with this order

    • Carrie 1 month ago1 month ago

      Sadly, the ones who have been trying for years to pass RICA are out of luck. School’s aren’t allowing us this opportunity because, we aren’t 2019-2020 students.

  14. Stephen Blum 1 month ago1 month ago

    Mike Everett is spot on. More than I can put into words. These tests are needless barriers instituted by the Legislature. The education system would benefit from their permanent cancellation. They should go the way of the high school exit exam. Gone.

  15. Nicole Carpenter 1 month ago1 month ago

    RICA has been a road block for me for a while. I have completed all other requirements, so I am not sure I qualify for this particular waiver, but I would certainly like to look into it. How can we find out if we qualify?

    Replies

    • Will 1 month ago1 month ago

      I am in the same boat! Reading the order, it didn’t say anything about being in any prep program! It only mentioned being unable to take the test.

    • CARRIE 1 month ago1 month ago

      RICA has been a roadblock for me since 2016 when I finished my program. Unfortunately, my program told me that they won’t be recommending me, because they say the executive order is only for current 2019-2020 students. So, I’m at a loss at getting my preliminary credential. It’s like I’m in limbo. I am not classified as a student, but you can’t get the recommendation unless you the program recommends you. If it takes you … Read More

      RICA has been a roadblock for me since 2016 when I finished my program. Unfortunately, my program told me that they won’t be recommending me, because they say the executive order is only for current 2019-2020 students. So, I’m at a loss at getting my preliminary credential. It’s like I’m in limbo. I am not classified as a student, but you can’t get the recommendation unless you the program recommends you. If it takes you 10 years to pass RICA, your old program will be the only one to recommend you. So, I’m at a loss and won’t be able to finally get a teaching position with an actual teaching salary.

  16. Louis S 1 month ago1 month ago

    Where do I find more information on this? A link please

  17. Mike Everett 1 month ago1 month ago

    Teachers need CBEST, CSET, CalTPA, Credentialing Program, and oftentimes a Master’s for $49k average salary. These tests only serve as a roadblock to gatekeep minorities to enter the profession and for Pearson to profit handsomely from.

    Replies

    • Steve 1 month ago1 month ago

      "Teachers need CBEST, CSET, CalTPA, Credentialing Program, and oftentimes a Master’s for $49k average salary. These tests only serve as a roadblock to gatekeep minorities to enter the profession and for Pearson to profit handsomely from." This comment is absurd and lowers the potential quality of teacher ability/practice by lowering standards. I challenge anyone who believes standards ought to be lowered. Well, why not lower the standards for exams that lawyers/doctors take? Let's … Read More

      “Teachers need CBEST, CSET, CalTPA, Credentialing Program, and oftentimes a Master’s for $49k average salary. These tests only serve as a roadblock to gatekeep minorities to enter the profession and for Pearson to profit handsomely from.”

      This comment is absurd and lowers the potential quality of teacher ability/practice by lowering standards. I challenge anyone who believes standards ought to be lowered. Well, why not lower the standards for exams that lawyers/doctors take? Let’s just eliminate them altogether and have lots more professionals that are only partially competent. Then, the proponents of these ideas can visit those “professionals,” but agree not to sue them when their malpractice results in a less-than-desired outcome because they weren’t competent to begin with!

      • Mike Everett 1 month ago1 month ago

        Some CSETs have material that are beyond Master’s programs in Mathematics. Are you saying college courses aren’t effective to learning anymore if these CSETs test beyond what’s ever used or taught in a classroom?

        You’re comparing Law & Medicine with standards countrywide with teacher tests and requirements in California that only profit private companies like Pearson.

        You deserve an Academy Award, Purple Heart, and Nobel Peace Prize for your support of Pearson!

      • Rickard Smith 1 month ago1 month ago

        LSAT and MCAT are nationalized exams for lawyers and doctors. California creates it own exams to profit Pearson. Why are there so many Corporate Supporters posting?

  18. Manu 1 month ago1 month ago

    I am confused. My university says I need to pass CSET before entering the internship in Aug. Can you please share a link which details out the eligibility?