CREDIT: iStock_Ryan-Balderas

California teachers may soon have more flexibility when it comes to the tests they are required to take to earn a credential.

The state’s Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees on education are recommending that legislators approve a proposal in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 state budget that would allow candidates to earn a teaching credential without taking two tests currently required.

If it is approved, candidates wouldn’t have to take the California Basic Educational Skills Test, or CBEST, or the California Subject Examinations for Teachers, or CSET, if they have earned a grade of B or better in qualifying coursework or tests that apply toward requirements for a degree.

Currently, a teacher candidate is required to prove proficiency in basic reading, writing and math by passing the CBEST or other approved exams. The test is usually taken before a student is accepted into a teacher preparation program.

The education trailer bill released May 14 outlines the types of courses that students in teacher preparation programs can take instead of the CBEST. Classes in critical thinking, literature, philosophy, reading, rhetoric or textual analysis can be taken to prove the teacher has basic reading skills.

Classes in composition, English and rhetoric can prove basic writing skills, and courses in algebra, geometry, mathematics, quantitative reasoning or statistics can be taken to prove basic math skills.

Teacher candidates also have been required to pass tests that are part of the California Subject Examinations for Teachers to earn a credential. Elementary school teachers must pass three tests — in science and math; reading, language, literature, history and social science; and physical education, human development and visual and performing arts — to earn a multiple-subject credential. Middle and high school teachers earn single-subject credentials in areas such as art, biology or English by passing at least one subject exam.

If the proposal is approved, teacher candidates will have the option of taking coursework at a university in the content area of the credential they are pursuing to prove subject-matter competence instead of taking some or all of the CSET tests required for their credential.

“It’s promising to see the governor and Legislature come together in support of new options for aspiring teachers to demonstrate knowledge and skills through coursework,” said Mary Vixie Sandy, executive director of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. “These new flexibilities will strike the right balance by upholding rigorous standards and reducing unnecessary barriers to the teaching profession.”

The proposal, which has gone unchallenged by legislators during the budget process, still needs to be approved by the full Legislature as part of the budget package by June 15. Legislators must negotiate a final state budget with the governor and pass it by June 30.

California’s teacher candidates have been required to take up to six tests to earn a credential, depending on what they plan to teach. The tests have been a major stumbling block for many, with nearly half of California’s potential teachers struggling to pass the standardized tests required to earn a credential, according to data from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

In the past two years, the commission has convened workgroups and held numerous meetings to study how to best reform the testing process. The Covid-19 pandemic ramped up these efforts as testing centers closed, making it difficult to take the required tests.

In spring 2020 Newsom and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing began easing some rules for the required tests. Last June the governor gave teachers more time to complete all the requirements for a credential and more time to submit information missing from applications. The new budget proposes suspending test requirements another year if a credential candidate is unable to complete an assessment because of testing center closures or capacity limits.

The proposed changes to teacher testing are largely the same as those proposed last year in Assembly Bill 1982, which addressed the CBEST, and Assembly Bill 2485, which addressed the CSET. Both failed to pass before the end of the legislative session last year. The biggest difference between the budget proposal and last year’s bills is that the bills, meant to help teachers complete their credentials during the coronavirus pandemic, were set to end after three years. The new proposal has no sunset date.

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  1. H Jack 1 day ago1 day ago

    So did it pass? Was the CBEST and CSET waived? Is there any update

  2. Genie Sunga 2 days ago2 days ago

    Is there any updates about the approval of just taking course work in lieu of taking CBEST and CSET?

  3. Amna Haque 2 days ago2 days ago

    I totally agree, these tests don’t measure teaching abilities. Both RICA and CSET should be waived.

  4. Replies

    • Amna Haque 20 hours ago20 hours ago

      Assembly bill 2485

  5. Debra sarver 1 week ago1 week ago

    Good riddance CBEST. When I took it there was a question lacking punctuation that could have been answered by two of the choices, depending on which punctuation was used. When I approached the proctor, he told me my only ‘remediation’ was to memorize the question and the answers and challenge it afterward.

  6. Susan Charles 1 week ago1 week ago

    Yeah a move in the right direction!

    Replies

    • MR 3 days ago3 days ago

      I 100% agree with you.

  7. John 1 week ago1 week ago

    Forcing teachers to pass a test like the CSET is complete BS. There are excellent teachers who simply can't pass the tests who can teach students perfectly and there are teachers who can ace every single test and then fail to teach their students correctly. Imagine how dumb it is to waste 4 years on a bachelor's then 2 years for credentials just so you can't be a teacher because you aren't "qualified". You could … Read More

    Forcing teachers to pass a test like the CSET is complete BS. There are excellent teachers who simply can’t pass the tests who can teach students perfectly and there are teachers who can ace every single test and then fail to teach their students correctly.

    Imagine how dumb it is to waste 4 years on a bachelor’s then 2 years for credentials just so you can’t be a teacher because you aren’t “qualified”. You could have had a 4.0 in all your classes and it wouldn’t matter, so what’s the point of the degree? What’s the point of having credentials? The courses are meaningless and teachers have to be in a classroom setting to get first hand experience in teaching, courses, tests, credentials don’t mean shit.

    If you can teach you can teach, you don’t need to waste years on end to prove you can teach.

    Replies

    • Arissa 1 week ago1 week ago

      I 100% agree with you. All that is covered in the CSET was covered during undergrad and passed/completed successfully. That isn’t enough?

    • Dr. Bill Conrad 1 week ago1 week ago

      All mature professions use credentialing exams.

      Student academic outcomes in this nation are so abysmal, especially for our children of color, that we know that the teaching pool is already unprepared in content and pedagogy.

      The opportunity to teach is a not a right. It must be earned.

      Fail the tests? Look for another job.

      • Gur 1 week ago1 week ago

        But we have already taken the tests to clear our graduate and post graduate degrees , for 6 years in a masters programs. ,,, teachers are not holding degrees without taking exams … why to take the tests again, this is ridiculous .

    • MP 1 week ago1 week ago

      Hi John, I agree 100%. If you have earned a bachelors degree - the CBEST should be waived. For the CSET, they should allow us to substitute coursework. For me personally, I am pursuing a full math credential: 3 subtests. I have passed subtest 1 and 2 which qualifies me to teach up to middle school aka foundational math. However, I did not pass subtest 3 because it's … Read More

      Hi John,

      I agree 100%. If you have earned a bachelors degree – the CBEST should be waived.

      For the CSET, they should allow us to substitute coursework. For me personally, I am pursuing a full math credential: 3 subtests. I have passed subtest 1 and 2 which qualifies me to teach up to middle school aka foundational math. However, I did not pass subtest 3 because it’s strictly calculus which I have not taken in 10 years and I am still studying for it.

      I will enter student teaching this fall.

    • CJ 1 week ago1 week ago

      The CBEST and CSETs are ridiculously easy tests. Any teacher should be able to pass them. As tedious as they are, they do offer assurance that teachers have the background necessary to teach students to a certain standard. California is dealing with a teacher shortage and it is much easier for the state to lower teaching requirements than it is to reduce the costs to become a teacher or pay teachers a higher wage. This … Read More

      The CBEST and CSETs are ridiculously easy tests. Any teacher should be able to pass them. As tedious as they are, they do offer assurance that teachers have the background necessary to teach students to a certain standard. California is dealing with a teacher shortage and it is much easier for the state to lower teaching requirements than it is to reduce the costs to become a teacher or pay teachers a higher wage. This will certainly result in more, albeit less-qualified, teachers.

    • MR 3 days ago3 days ago

      Hi John, you stated it very clearly. I have been in Early childhood education for years now. I am in a grad program and will be student teaching this Fall. I love working with children each day that ai work. Tests make me nervous- and give make me anxious no matter how well prepared I maybe.

      It will be a relief when some of these tests will be eliminated-financially as well.

  8. Fred 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    Teachers have already been able to substitute coursework for CSETs for years.

  9. Richard Rasiej 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    As a math education researcher who focuses specifically on improving the quality of instruction in K-5, I believe that the standards for math/science subtest from CSET are already absurdly low. Candidates can score reasonably well on the science portion and poorly on the math portion and still pass the subtest because the two portions are not considered individually. Research shows that most elementary school teachers have poor math content knowledge, do not … Read More

    As a math education researcher who focuses specifically on improving the quality of instruction in K-5, I believe that the standards for math/science subtest from CSET are already absurdly low. Candidates can score reasonably well on the science portion and poorly on the math portion and still pass the subtest because the two portions are not considered individually. Research shows that most elementary school teachers have poor math content knowledge, do not understand how to evaluate student thinking, and have high degrees of anxiety in teaching the subject.

    Suggesting that the credentialization test can be skipped with a B in “qualifying coursework” is further lowering the bar given the extent of grade inflation in most post-secondary institutions.

    I truly believe that the net result of these changes will be even worse outcomes for all of California’s students, especially for minority populations.

    As far as math is concerned, K-5 instruction should be provided by subject matter specialists, not the typical elementary school teacher.

  10. Richard Cranium 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    If you can’t pass the CBEST, you shouldn’t be anywhere near a classroom. If you can’t pass subject matter equivalency tests, you should ask yourself what you learned and studied and maybe start a class action against your university.

    The tests are easy and they demonstrate that you actually are competent. Doing away with these will only lower standards for education, and the bar isn’t set that high already.

    Replies

    • Jake Traina 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      Passing tests has no scientific backing to show teacher efficacy. If a teacher has received an associates, bachelors, and completion of a credential program, they have proved high-level thinking and performance. The passing of a test means nothing if an individual can't control a class, can't collaborate with the community, can't relate material to students; all things that a test cannot evaluate. From personal experience, I have worked with a "genius" teacher who passed all … Read More

      Passing tests has no scientific backing to show teacher efficacy. If a teacher has received an associates, bachelors, and completion of a credential program, they have proved high-level thinking and performance. The passing of a test means nothing if an individual can’t control a class, can’t collaborate with the community, can’t relate material to students; all things that a test cannot evaluate.

      From personal experience, I have worked with a “genius” teacher who passed all CA tests with some of the highest marks I’ve heard of. The students learned absolutely nothing because they had zero classroom management or communication skills. Their contract was not renewed.

      There’s no perfect solution, but that is why schools and principals can opt not to renew contracts. There are fantastic future teachers held back by tests and current lousy teachers enabled by tests.

    • Carlos Medina 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      Believing the tests are easy is your experience, the truth is that they are a massive stumbling block for a large percentage of prospective teachers. Some of the CSETs failure rates hover above 60%. If the tests were a success at enabling only the most efficient and competent teachers in America, California's school tests score wouldn't be some of the lowest in the country. They've been in place long enough to establish a correlation, which … Read More

      Believing the tests are easy is your experience, the truth is that they are a massive stumbling block for a large percentage of prospective teachers. Some of the CSETs failure rates hover above 60%. If the tests were a success at enabling only the most efficient and competent teachers in America, California’s school tests score wouldn’t be some of the lowest in the country. They’ve been in place long enough to establish a correlation, which sadly has not been shown in data.

      It is more damaging for schools to have massive class sizes due to our overwhelming teacher shortage. The education involved in reaching a preliminary credential, in my opinion, is highly rigorous.

  11. Frank F Noey 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    Teachers hold a pivotal role in nurturing, educating and developing our children into people who will be of benefit to society. This legislation simply lowers the bar for someone to be a teacher. For those who wish to become teachers, they work very hard to achieve that goal. This legislation takes away the incentive for hard work and determination. But, that is what seems to be the norm anymore for some.

    Replies

    • Jeremy 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      This simply eliminates 1 barrier. Becoming a teachers still involves and associates degree, bachelors degree, and a credential program. If six+ years of schooling doesn’t show determination and hard work, a few tests surely won’t!

  12. T. Weller-Curtner 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    Funny thing – I remember a similar discussion concerning the quality of high school coursework and the SAT. Is it the exam or the prep?

  13. Pratibha Maurya 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    I think suspending these testing requirements to become teachers will be a smart move of the California government. It will open doors for many passionate teachers who want to teach in California but couldn't do it just because of these tests. I think when a person is taking graduate-level classes, and he/she is part of a rigorous teacher's Preparation program, then I think forcing them or blocking their way to teach is like taking away … Read More

    I think suspending these testing requirements to become teachers will be a smart move of the California government. It will open doors for many passionate teachers who want to teach in California but couldn’t do it just because of these tests.

    I think when a person is taking graduate-level classes, and he/she is part of a rigorous teacher’s Preparation program, then I think forcing them or blocking their way to teach is like taking away the support from those students who are struggling because of large class size and teacher is not able to provide enough support to the students. Additionally, I think replacing tests by grades and/or by course work is the best idea.

    Replies

    • Zeev Wurman 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      Those teachers that fail the (rather trivial) tests may be “passionate” but they also show themselves to be ignorant of any significant subject-matter knowledge.

      Would you like your children to be taught by such teachers? I thought so.

    • M Raum 1 week ago1 week ago

      Pratibha, I absolutely agree with you. I have taught pre-k & K in private schools, and have immense experience. I am passionate about teaching the younger grades e.g. TK/K/. I am in a grad program for an elementary credential. It seems an overkill to have to prepare for upper grade math and science, when my interest lies in teaching younger grades. Something needs to change about “tests” to qualify for becoming a teacher. I cannot … Read More

      Pratibha, I absolutely agree with you. I have taught pre-k & K in private schools, and have immense experience. I am passionate about teaching the younger grades e.g. TK/K/. I am in a grad program for an elementary credential. It seems an overkill to have to prepare for upper grade math and science, when my interest lies in teaching younger grades.

      Something needs to change about “tests” to qualify for becoming a teacher. I cannot wait to find out what the outcome will be.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  14. Dr. Bill Conrad 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    With fewer than 1/2 of third graders overall being able to read as measured by pre-pandemic CAASSP and fewer than 1 out of 3 Black 3rd graders, it does not seem prudent to cut back on the tests required for a teaching credential. No? The colleges of education are woeful and produce teachers who are unprepared to be successful on the credentialing exams but worse yet unprepared in the content and … Read More

    With fewer than 1/2 of third graders overall being able to read as measured by pre-pandemic CAASSP and fewer than 1 out of 3 Black 3rd graders, it does not seem prudent to cut back on the tests required for a teaching credential. No?

    The colleges of education are woeful and produce teachers who are unprepared to be successful on the credentialing exams but worse yet unprepared in the content and pedagogy to be successful within the classroom.

    And guess who gets to be the recipients of these unprepared novices. You guessed it. Our Beautiful Black and Brown children..

    Since social emotional learning has become the coin of the realm, we might as well continue to downplay the importance of academic and pedagogical preparation.

    This is just more evidence of the need to totally transform K-12 education.

    More fog of education.
    http://sipbigpicture.com

  15. Gabrielle 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    What exactly would qualifying coursework be to satisfy the requirements for the CSETS?

    Replies

    • Tina 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      I think an example of qualifying coursework would be a full sequence of undergraduate biology courses to replace the CSET biology test.

      In my opinion I felt the CSET I, II, and III for science was really easy (probably because I graduated with a biology/chemistry degree) but I had to save up money for a month to take those tests. The bigger issue I think is how expensive it is to get a teacher credential in California.

      • Pratibha Maurya 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

        I think it is so true that becomes a teacher is so expensive in California.

        • Sholem Duke 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

          Why are those test expensive compare to other sates? Is that somehow indexed on the cost of leaving?

  16. ann 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    ‘Elementary school teachers must pass three tests — in science and math; reading, language, literature, history and social science; and physical education, human development and visual and performing arts — to earn a multiple-subject credential.’ CBest, RICA and what else?

    Replies

    • Aaron 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

      CBEST, RICA, and CSETs (which are the most pointless in my opinion).

      • Alicia Perez 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

        This is in response to the comment about less than half of our third graders being able to read pre pandemic. It has nothing to do with a teacher being able to pass a test. I’ve know teachers with several credentials and masters degrees who can’t teach. There are a couple of rarely mentioned factors that contribute to low performance in reading on the CAASSP. The first is that these tests are not developmentally appropriate … Read More

        This is in response to the comment about less than half of our third graders being able to read pre pandemic.

        It has nothing to do with a teacher being able to pass a test. I’ve know teachers with several credentials and masters degrees who can’t teach.

        There are a couple of rarely mentioned factors that contribute to low performance in reading on the CAASSP.

        The first is that these tests are not developmentally appropriate for our elementary students!!!

        Fact- The way that textbook publishers and testing companies have interpreted what children need to know according to the Common Core State standards has been driving how we are expected to teach children.

        These entities are clueless about child development! Everyone on those boards needs to be a child development expert if they’re going to be making decisions about the best way to educate and test children.

        How many of you had to read a non fiction and a fiction text about the same subject, had to synthesize that information, and write about it using text evidence in the 3rd, 4th, 5th grade? That is what the CAASSP is like. Most of us first had to do this in middle school. The state needs to go back to just straight up test for reading comprehension without the unnecessary acrobatics of the current tests. We need to test in a way that makes sense and is developmentally appropriate in the elementary grades.

        The second is that one teacher in an overloaded classroom is not going to be able to effectively do small group instruction with every child every day. This is a fact. We need to lower the class size in the primary grades AND have a full day teacher assistant in order for every child to get the attention that is needed to learn the basics.

        Since we adopted Common Core and the CAASSP tests, our students have not made any gains. Data in states that adopted Common Core proves this.

        Its time to change the way that we’ve been doing things this past decade. It simply hasn’t been working.

      • Ann 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

        Do you now need to pass CSETs to teach elementary?