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The end of the legislative session Monday meant the demise of three bills that would have allowed teachers to take fewer tests to prove they are ready to teach. But the Legislature also approved a trailer bill that will allow more teachers to take advantage of an executive order postponing tests.

Assembly Bill 1982 would have temporarily given teacher candidates the option to use university coursework to replace the required California Basic Educational Skills Test. Assembly Bill 2485 would have offered the same option in place of the California Subject Examinations for Teachers. Senate Bill 614 would have eliminated the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment and replaced it with a basic writing skills test on Teacher Performance Assessments.

The trailer bill extends a temporary reprieve Gov. Gavin Newsom gave to teacher candidates in May. It allowed those who couldn’t take required tests between March 19 and Aug. 31 of this year, because of testing center closures, to enter teacher preparation programs without passing the California Basic Educational Skills Test. It also allowed teacher candidates to enter internship programs without passing required tests in the California Subject Examinations for Teachers and to earn preliminary credentials without passing the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment. The trailer bill passed Monday extends the eligibility period to Aug. 31, 2021.

The two Assembly bills were set to sunset in three years if approved. But the Senate bill, originally introduced during last year’s legislative session by Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Covina, would have permanently replaced the reading instruction test. The bill ran into opposition from some education reformers.

None of the bills made it to the floor of the Legislature for a vote. Both Assembly bills stalled because Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, decided that all Assembly bills had to be directly related to Covid-19 to be passed, according to Sasha Horwitz, spokesman for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

The commission, which sponsored Assembly Bill 2485, is considering reintroducing it next year, Horwitz said. The bill had no opposition. There has been no decision yet on whether Assembly Bill 1982 will be reintroduced, said Gianna Rogers, a staff member for State Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, who authored the bill. Rubio said she will consider reintroducing SB 614 next year.

“Teachers are better prepared to teach our children when they have real-life, hands-on experience, which is what the bill intended to provide to teacher candidates, in a real-time classroom setting,” Rubio said in a statement. “Doing what we have done for over 20 years is not working. We need to do what’s best for students.”

Andrew Collins, 34, wanted the RICA bill to pass, so he could earn a teaching credential, but he’s done waiting. After four years and seven attempts to pass the test he plans to collect his master’s degree and move on.

“There are other ways I can work with students,” Collins said Monday.

Collins, who lives in El Granada in San Mateo County, graduated from Pacific Oaks College. He completed his student teaching in San Mateo, but couldn’t pass the RICA.

It’s not really an option to take the test again, he said. The course requirements to earn a credential at his school have changed since he withdrew three years ago, and he would have to take several new courses.

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% of teacher candidates 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.

Teacher candidates have seen some relief from required tests from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and Newsom.

Newsom’s May order postponing required teacher tests also postponed the Teaching Performance Assessment, which evaluates a teacher candidate’s work in the classroom. Candidates who were in the process of completing the test while working at a school that closed during the pandemic are eligible for the extension. The order does not waive any of the tests, but allows teacher candidates to take some tests later in their teacher preparation programs and some before earning a clear credential.

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing also passed several resolutions in April that made it easier for teacher candidates to move into classrooms despite campus and testing site closures due to the pandemic. The resolutions allow university programs to apply for waivers for candidates who have not completed all their credentialing requirements and allow teacher candidates more time to take some tests.

In the meantime, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing continues to review all the tests and assessments that teachers are required to take to enter the profession, holding meetings and workshops over the last four years to consider potential changes or replacements to exams. The commission does not have the power to eliminate or make substantial changes to tests mandated by state law, however. That must be done by legislation or executive order.

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  1. Seth 4 days ago4 days ago

    I am ok with the bills not passing. I have been a teacher for over 10 years. Lowering the bar is not good. We expect students to pass exams – so why can't those who want to be teachers. Please, the exams are really not that hard (sorry if that sounds mean). I do not want to work with bottom of barrel people. I work with several veteran teachers that did not have to pass … Read More

    I am ok with the bills not passing. I have been a teacher for over 10 years. Lowering the bar is not good. We expect students to pass exams – so why can’t those who want to be teachers. Please, the exams are really not that hard (sorry if that sounds mean). I do not want to work with bottom of barrel people.

    I work with several veteran teachers that did not have to pass high teacher requirements that were put into place in 2004. I can immediately tell the teachers of high quality that began teaching after 2004 and those teachers that started before. I do not want to see low quality teachers coming in because of eliminating exams that are meant to keep less than ideal people out of the profession. Private school teaching and other positions are available.

  2. B. Powers 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    Where can I find the official approval of “The trailer bill extends a temporary reprieve Gov. Gavin Newsom gave to teacher candidates in May. “

  3. Dr. Bill Conrad 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    All serious professions require exams to determine competency to enter the profession. The teaching "profession" moves backward when it rages against legitimate professional entrance exams. Half of the third graders in California can't read. Eliminating the RICA will only exacerbate this abomination. Colleges of education recruit the least qualified and train them poorly. The teacher entrance tests demonstrate this problem. The state is currently recruiting teacher candidates from the bus lots, cafeterias, and janitor closets as … Read More

    All serious professions require exams to determine competency to enter the profession.

    The teaching “profession” moves backward when it rages against legitimate professional entrance exams.

    Half of the third graders in California can’t read. Eliminating the RICA will only exacerbate this abomination.

    Colleges of education recruit the least qualified and train them poorly. The teacher entrance tests demonstrate this problem. The state is currently recruiting teacher candidates from the bus lots, cafeterias, and janitor closets as reported by EdSource. It is no surprise that 40% of teacher can’t pass qualifying exams. They should do something else. Being nice is not a substitute for competency.

    The medical profession does not recruit doctors from cafeteria staff. Having a good bedside manner is not good enough to become a doctor. They must pass rigorous multi-day assessments as they are a real profession.

    Teaching is not a real profession yet. Maybe some day.

    Replies

    • Jason M 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      Tell that to all the college dropout programmers in the bay. Tests are not the end all be all.

    • Rosemary Casandra Lucero 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      Well said! However, teachers do not make as much as doctors, nor do they diagnosis or perform life saving procedures.

      • Dr. Bill Conrad 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

        Good point Rosemary.

        I contend that highly qualified teachers should make as least as much as doctors.

        As Christa McAuliffe said, “Teachers Touch the Future.”

        Had we truly invested in our teachers beginning years ago, our democracy would not be i such great trouble as it is today. Our future would have been brighter! And believe me our lives do depend on quality teachers!

        Administrators? Not so much.

  4. Michael 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    I’m all for signing a petition for CA to eliminate the CSET! This is ridiculous…

    Replies

    • Dr. Bill Conrad 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      Tests are but one important indicator of whether or not candidates are qualified to become teachers. There should be no free lunch when it comes to the certification of teachers. It is just a logical fallacy to suggest that because prospective teachers fail a competency exam that the tests are flawed. It may in fact be that the teacher candidates are flawed. Students and families deserve the most qualified teachers. Tests are but one way … Read More

      Tests are but one important indicator of whether or not candidates are qualified to become teachers. There should be no free lunch when it comes to the certification of teachers.

      It is just a logical fallacy to suggest that because prospective teachers fail a competency exam that the tests are flawed. It may in fact be that the teacher candidates are flawed. Students and families deserve the most qualified teachers. Tests are but one way to determine competency. All professions use competency tests as a gateway to entrance into the profession. Teaching should be no different.

      Adults should quit raging against the thermometers and address the root cause problem of a failed college of education system as well as teacher recruitment efforts.

  5. Justin 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Would anyone be interested in starting a change.org petition for CA to eliminate the CSET? Also I do not know how to get this on the ballot but I would definitely support and spread awareness about this. I also sent an email to Newsom’s office about him signing an executive order. Tell everyone you know to email his office weekly and ask him to sign an executive order!

    Replies

    • Raphael Lamas 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      I will send the Governor an email. Also, you can call the governor’s office and leave a message. There are organizations that help with ballot initiatives. I am looking for one that will help us writing a propositions and put it on the ballot.

    • rosemary 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      yes! I would!

  6. Michelle 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    This really makes me upset! This is a serious dilemma for many teacher candidates. It’s all about the money with these exams. This needs to be addressed now and I would be on board to put it on the ballot.

  7. Lynne 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Diana, do you think it would help if we CA teachers-- short of writing a ballot initiative, since I don't know any teachers right now (including myself) who have that kind of time, started a Change.org petition and sent it to Governor Newsom imploring him to take executive action on these proposed bills? Or perhaps we could initiate a campaign to bombard his Twitter account with tweets from teachers that include all of these comments … Read More

    Diana, do you think it would help if we CA teachers– short of writing a ballot initiative, since I don’t know any teachers right now (including myself) who have that kind of time, started a Change.org petition and sent it to Governor Newsom imploring him to take executive action on these proposed bills? Or perhaps we could initiate a campaign to bombard his Twitter account with tweets from teachers that include all of these comments made here (I propose HASHTAG Teachers Not Tests)? I say we teachers should do what we do best: educate the Governor on the situation, encourage him to support us and inspire him to take action.

    Replies

    • Raphael Lamas 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      Lynne, I support your idea. We can find a group that will help us writing a proposition. There are a lots of organizations that want change. I will do more research and investigate which organization can help in writing a proposition.

    • Bo Loney 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      Literally, I only have a high school diploma awarded at 26 years of age and can see all the mistakes.

  8. Modesto 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    This is very unfortunate. There are very skilled and passionate people who love to teach and can come alongside students and support them in ways that would provide them a great educational experience. These tests create barriers for many and can be intimidating for those with test anxiety. If only legislators and everyone that was involved with educational policymaking had to pass these same test to keep their position. They would probably rethink … Read More

    This is very unfortunate. There are very skilled and passionate people who love to teach and can come alongside students and support them in ways that would provide them a great educational experience. These tests create barriers for many and can be intimidating for those with test anxiety. If only legislators and everyone that was involved with educational policymaking had to pass these same test to keep their position. They would probably rethink their career path.

    By no means am I saying it’s not doable, but the reality is taking tests is not for everyone. If anything my very own experiences have taught me, mastering content and material can be assessed by more than simply taking a costly test.

  9. Jennifer 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    I think the CTC is racking up money from these test. They make it expensive and difficult to pass these test. The test are biased against people who did not get the same level of education.

  10. Raphael 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    The CBEST, the RICA, the CSET and the California Teaching Performance Assessment do not measure how well a teacher can teach the students. Those exams only prevent people from gaining and maintaining employment. Often, I hear that there is a shortage of teachers. Based on my experiencing working in the public school system, there is no shortage of teachers. However, there is a shortage of good teachers. A lot of teachers go into the teaching … Read More

    The CBEST, the RICA, the CSET and the California Teaching Performance Assessment do not measure how well a teacher can teach the students. Those exams only prevent people from gaining and maintaining employment. Often, I hear that there is a shortage of teachers. Based on my experiencing working in the public school system, there is no shortage of teachers. However, there is a shortage of good teachers. A lot of teachers go into the teaching profession, and many of those teachers hate teaching.

  11. Raphael 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    Since politicians and opposition from some educators prevent reforming the education system in California, it is time to write a proposition and put it on the ballot for voters to decide the fate of those four exams that teachers need to pass.

    Does anyone or organization wants to write a ballot initiative? I willing to help by collecting signatures.

    Replies

    • Sofia Anaya 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      I am not sure how to write or organize a ballot but I would be up for signing write away.