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This article was updated to include a statement from Mary Vixie Sandy, executive director of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

California teacher candidates may be able to use coursework they have taken to satisfy their degree requirements to prove they are ready to teach, instead of taking some state tests currently required to obtain a teaching credential, according to a proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

If legislators approve the proposal, teacher candidates will no longer have to take the California Basic Educational Skills Test, or CBEST, or the California Subject Examinations for Teachers, otherwise known as the CSET. Those two tests are among several that teacher candidates are required to pass before they earn a credential, and many potential teachers have failed.

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 governor’s proposal would allow candidates to avoid the test if they have earned a grade of B or better in coursework and on tests approved by a university teacher preparation program or the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. 

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.

The new proposal would allow teacher candidates to use college courses in subjects related to the credential they are seeking, or a combination of courses and tests, to prove they are competent to teach a subject.

If the Legislature approves the proposal, the changes would go into effect on July 1.

“The commission is always seeking ways to broaden opportunities for aspiring teachers to enter the classroom,” said Sasha Horwitz, spokesman for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. “We are excited that the state budget includes plans to move away from testing as the primary way to meet the basic skills and subject-matter requirements.”

The commission still considers the two tests “reliable assessments of teacher preparation,” said Mary Vixie Sandy, executive director.  “The administration’s proposal to provide new flexibilities, complements the existing testing options by allowing aspiring teachers to meet these requirements in conjunction with rigorous alternative indicators of proficiency.”

The proposal is part of an education budget trailer bill accompanying the proposed 2021-22 budget Newsom announced in January. Several trailer bills were released Tuesday, offering details about the policy changes in the proposed budget.

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 blocks 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 last 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 the spring the governor and Commission on Teacher Credentialing eased some rules for the required tests. In a budget trailer bill 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 commission passed several resolutions in April that made it easier for teacher candidates to move into classrooms, including voting to waive the 600-hour requirement for student teaching and allowing university educators to decide when teacher candidates are ready to teach. 

The proposed changes to teacher testing in the budget trailer bills 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 the 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.

State lawmakers are planning to reintroduce the Assembly bills this year to better ensure the changes become law, even if they are removed during the budget process, Horwitz said. 

A third bill on teacher testing — Senate Bill 614 — also failed to make it to a vote last year, but it was not addressed in Newsom’s budget package. The bill would have eliminated the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment, or RICA, with a basic writing skills test on the Teacher Performance Assessment. 

Teacher candidates take the RICA after they receive a bachelor’s degree and are enrolled in a teacher preparation program. Teacher candidates planning to teach elementary school or special education must pass the test to earn a credential. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing assembled a panel to recommend alternatives to the RICA last year because of its high failure rate.

If the latest proposal passes, teacher candidates will still be required to take the RICA and the California Teaching Performance Assessment, which measures how well teacher candidates assess students, design instruction, organize subject matter and other skills. The performance assessment is required for teachers, except special education teachers, before they can earn a credential.

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  1. Otak Jump 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    CBEST may be an “easy” test, but that does not make it a valid measure of basic skills. As teachers we need to pay attention to evidence. There is no real evidence that CBEST is a valid indicator of future competence in the classroom and there is plenty of evidence that many groups struggle to pass, such as candidates who are from disadvantaged communities, who have learning differences, who have learned English as a … Read More

    CBEST may be an “easy” test, but that does not make it a valid measure of basic skills. As teachers we need to pay attention to evidence. There is no real evidence that CBEST is a valid indicator of future competence in the classroom and there is plenty of evidence that many groups struggle to pass, such as candidates who are from disadvantaged communities, who have learning differences, who have learned English as a second language, who are immigrants, not to mention those who have anxiety disorder. Look at the data; standardized tests are not a good gatekeeper, but they are a good obstacle for many qualified candidates.

    As teachers we also need to have the humility that just because something was “easy” for us does not mean if should be easy for everyone. It’s like chiding someone in a wheelchair for not being able to climb the flight of stairs we just went up. There are already plenty of checkpoints to make sure teachers are ready to be in a classroom: university preparation programs, district personnel departments and induction programs, site administrators and evaluators.

    The idea that lack of standardized testing will “dumb down” our profession may in fact mask an inability to recognize that many types of intelligence exist and are important to being an excellent teacher. Are you ready to be “tested” on your emotional intelligence? Your artistic intelligence? Your creative intelligence? You better be ready to use them in the classroom.

  2. Michelle R. 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    I would have to agree with a couple of the comments. The CBEST is not that difficult to pass. It is basic reading, writing, and math. These basic skills are very important when teaching ... even elementary. regard to the CSETS: I completely agree with the reasons for the changes. Having 31 years of elementary teaching and over 20 years as a mentor, the TPAs are very important to all teacher candidates. Induction is … Read More

    I would have to agree with a couple of the comments. The CBEST is not that difficult to pass. It is basic reading, writing, and math. These basic skills are very important when teaching … even elementary. regard to the CSETS: I completely agree with the reasons for the changes. Having 31 years of elementary teaching and over 20 years as a mentor, the TPAs are very important to all teacher candidates.

    Induction is also a very important program to complete which helps solidify what was learned in credentialing classes. I am very glad to hear that the RICA will remain. Seeing teachers not understanding how to teach reading is very difficult especially with the learning loss from Covid.

  3. Craig 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Of course they want to eliminate rigorous testing of potential teachers as the pool of candidates shrinks while the demand for teachers continues to rise. But truly, if someone can't pass the CBEST, they shouldn't be a teacher. In Germany, teachers go through a four-year university program where they can be "washed out" if professors do not deem students to be viable teacher candidates. Yes, testing of teachers can be biased. One example is that … Read More

    Of course they want to eliminate rigorous testing of potential teachers as the pool of candidates shrinks while the demand for teachers continues to rise. But truly, if someone can’t pass the CBEST, they shouldn’t be a teacher. In Germany, teachers go through a four-year university program where they can be “washed out” if professors do not deem students to be viable teacher candidates.

    Yes, testing of teachers can be biased. One example is that the State of California requires a rigorous paper that many students who are not native English speakers can’t pass. So while they were able to pass the CSET to teach Spanish at the high school level, they could not read and write well enough to understand, write and pass the EdTPA in their subject matter, an examination which really does not foretell anything about being a good teacher of any subject matter.

    Every test is flawed and biased in some way so there should be multiple ways a candidate can show they would make a fine teacher. Instead of testing for subject-matter competence, how about a test to prove you can manage a classroom first!

  4. Tina 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    I think this would be amazing. I received my Biology degree from UC San Diego and still had to pay $102 for the CBEST (to show that I can read and write at a college level) and $297 for the three science subtests (CSET Science 1 &2, and CSET Biology). In addition, I had to pay the CTC fees($50 for the certificate of clearance, I think about $50-60 for fingerprinting, $100 for the initial application … Read More

    I think this would be amazing. I received my Biology degree from UC San Diego and still had to pay $102 for the CBEST (to show that I can read and write at a college level) and $297 for the three science subtests (CSET Science 1 &2, and CSET Biology). In addition, I had to pay the CTC fees($50 for the certificate of clearance, I think about $50-60 for fingerprinting, $100 for the initial application fee, and about $50 to upgrade for the preliminary credential).

    Then, in order to clear my credential, I had to pay another $5000 for the clear credential (BTSA/Induction) program, and then the application fee (about $102 if I can recall) in order to be a fully certified teacher. This does not even include the cost of the teacher credentialing program.

    I think that if a teacher can show their proficiency of the material through aligned courses at university, then they should have the opportunity to waive at least the test requirement.

  5. SD Parent 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    I worry that it's not the tests that are challenging but that the candidates haven't actually mastered the material. For example, I can't tell you how many times letters sent home from teachers and even principals were rife with errors in grammar and punctuation. I've often wondered how I could expect these teachers to educate my children in how to write when the teachers, themselves, hadn't mastered it. The idea that the state should … Read More

    I worry that it’s not the tests that are challenging but that the candidates haven’t actually mastered the material. For example, I can’t tell you how many times letters sent home from teachers and even principals were rife with errors in grammar and punctuation. I’ve often wondered how I could expect these teachers to educate my children in how to write when the teachers, themselves, hadn’t mastered it. The idea that the state should lower the bar even more by eliminating assessments that test for basic competence is a terrible idea.

  6. Marc A Winger 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    As an adjunct prof at CSUN I had lots of students in the admin credential/masters degree program who could not write a coherent and/or grammatically correct paper. It’s obvious that class grading, at least in my experience, is not a good proxy for the CBEST.

  7. Dr. Bill Conrad 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Our utterly disgraced former president Trump once famously said that 'if we stop testing right now, we'd have very few cases' of the COVID-19 virus. This insane statement is in perfect harmony with the even crazier new theory of action of the lost in the fog K-12 education system – the diminution of teacher credentialing testing. First tier professions like law and medicine expect their candidates to pass very rigorous multi-day exams. The third tier pretend … Read More

    Our utterly disgraced former president Trump once famously said that ‘if we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases’ of the COVID-19 virus. This insane statement is in perfect harmony with the even crazier new theory of action of the lost in the fog K-12 education system – the diminution of teacher credentialing testing.

    First tier professions like law and medicine expect their candidates to pass very rigorous multi-day exams. The third tier pretend profession of teaching moves away from rigorous testing as the testing is too challenging for the very poorly prepared candidates who exit the woeful colleges of education.

    EdSource recently reported that the state is now recruiting teachers from the bus lots, cafeterias, and janitor closets to enter the “profession” of teaching. The caring teacher trumps competent teachers. So, it makes sense that the state is moving away from testing to ensure opportunities for fourth tier teaching candidates.

    The end of testing for teachers is just one more artifact of a failed and racist K-12 education system. Learn more about the myriad of malaise that afflict K-12 education in my new book called the Fog of Education. (http://sipbigpicture.com)

    Our only hope is our children who must rise up to address the abomination that K-12 education has become.

    Replies

    • Verenice 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      You are a teacher yourself, so you are not an actual “professional"? The quote you shared about Trump and the circumstance you use to compare it to are not mutually exclusive. It has long been known that exams expose bias rather than competence.https://uscaseps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/standardized-testing.pdf Measuring true competence is not measured solely or mainly by standardized exams. Also, the way that you infer that janitors and cafeteria are are not good candidates to become teachers in a … Read More

      You are a teacher yourself, so you are not an actual “professional”? The quote you shared about Trump and the circumstance you use to compare it to are not mutually exclusive.

      It has long been known that exams expose bias rather than competence.https://uscaseps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/standardized-testing.pdf Measuring true competence is not measured solely or mainly by standardized exams.

      Also, the way that you infer that janitors and cafeteria are are not good candidates to become teachers in a “profession” shows your privilege. You think so poorly of people who work in those jobs. I have seen those same people become lawyers and doctors that you think so highly of. Who are you to say who is capable of becoming a teacher? You are after all, a teacher of that “profession.”

      • Dr. Bill Conrad 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

        Hello Verenice, I have been in education for over 45 years at all levels and all over the country. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have been in far too many classrooms of children of color and see the teacher profoundly incompetent in both content and pedagogy. Of course you will find a few janitors and cafeteria workers who have the potential to be great teachers. However, that would be a special … Read More

        Hello Verenice,

        I have been in education for over 45 years at all levels and all over the country. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have been in far too many classrooms of children of color and see the teacher profoundly incompetent in both content and pedagogy.

        Of course you will find a few janitors and cafeteria workers who have the potential to be great teachers. However, that would be a special case find and not a system pattern. Medicine, law, and business recruit from the highest tiers of candidates. They would never in a million years consider recruiting candidates from bus lots. Unfortunately, teaching is considered to be a third tier profession. High quality candidates are not attracted to the field. Until we have top tier candidates clamoring to become teachers, we will be left with teachers who are not competent in content and/or pedagogy. That is our reality.

        You are correct that I was once a middle school science teacher. I was a good teacher and even won an award for designing and implementing a class in the inner city for Latinos called The Super Saturday Science Special. However, I do rue the fact that I did not follow through on my Biology graduate work to become a scientist. I settled as many do for teaching. It is what it is.

        One only needs to look at the student outcome data to see the failure of the system to attract and retain the brightest. Half of California third graders can’t read. Only 1 out of 5 Hispanics nationwide can do grade level math. Only about 14% of 11th grade Blacks can do grade level math.

        The data does not lie. We should not rage against the thermometers. We all need to look in the mirror and raise our game as the children and families deserve it.

        In my view, the grownups in this system are very satisfied and are not in a mood to change. They can always blame the victim or their parents. The children must rise up and transform the system.

        Thanks for your comments.

        Check out my book at http://sipbigpicture.com to get a more in depth view of my perceptions on the maladies and racism that affect our lost in the fog K-12 education system.