Commission on Teacher Credentialing launches PK-3 credential and adopts revised teaching standards

The Feb. 8-9 meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) opened with the culmination of years of work with the announcement of the approved PK-3 Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialist Instruction Credential. Commission-accredited institutions have been able to apply to bring the instruction program to their schools since early 2023, and now those programs can be approved and start implementing the new credential.

During the meeting, commissioners adopted the revised California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP) and approved a new option for certifying subject matter competence.

California Standards for the Teaching Profession

The CSTP were originally developed and adopted in the 1990s and most recently updated in 2009. The standards describe the set of knowledge, skills and abilities characteristic of accomplished professional practice at the level expected of effective veteran teachers.

“This item supports our recently adopted strategic plan,” CTC Chair Marquita Grenot-Scheyer said. “Driven by equity and justice, California’s educators engage in culturally sustaining practices to create learning opportunities that promote each student’s academic, social-emotional and physical growth. This North Star guides what we do around this table and what our colleagues do as they prepare the next generation of educators, and the 2024 draft CSTP are an integral part of this work. Rigorous preparation for future educators is essential so that they can teach our children and grandchildren well so in the future they may develop and become competent, informed and caring citizens.”

The CSTP are organized within six overarching and interrelated domains of teaching:

  1.  Engaging and supporting all students in learning
  2.  Creating and maintaining effective environments for student learning
  3.  Understanding and organizing subject matter for student learning
  4.  Planning instruction and designing learning experiences for all students
  5.  Assessing students for learning
  6.  Developing as a professional educator

In accordance with the periodic CSTP updating process outlined in Education Code section 44279.2, in August 2020, commission staff presented information about the application and selection process for an expert workgroup to update and revise the CSTP. The workgroup’s recommendations were released for public review in January 2021 and feedback was analyzed by the group. At this point, there was a pause in the workflow to focus on COVID-mitigation measures and the PK-3 credential.

In July 2023, the original workgroup was asked to come back together to have a final look at the 2020 draft CSTP. In advance of the workgroup meeting, the 2020 draft CSTP were reviewed by members expert in several key focus areas including literacy; English learners; early childhood education; special education; social-emotional wellness; and diversity, equity and inclusion. The feedback from these experts was provided to workgroup members to consider in their final review and revision and resulted in the development of the draft 2024 CSTP.

A side-by-side comparison of the draft 2024 and the 2009 CSTP is provided here.

Public comment was unanimously in favor of the new standards with many teachers excited about an update to fit today’s students and learning environment. “I’m a 25-year veteran educator in the Escondido Union School District and a senior fellow with Teach Plus,” said Wendy Threatt. “I want to express my very enthusiastic support for the proposed revised CSTP. The expert workgroup’s continual effort to develop those standards that serve as a strong foundation to effectively teach and grow as educational professionals is very apparent in the language of these standards. These new standards require a culturally responsive, equitable and very holistic approach to teaching and learning. I’m looking forward to using these standards when I am evaluated by my principal because they really do show and will help support my growth and development as a teacher, even after 25 years. However, in order for these standards to truly support teaching and learning, we feel a more supportive implementation and rollout needs to be developed.”

The revised CSTP was adopted with instruction to staff to re-examine their recommendation of providing technical assistance for the implementation for just one year, echoing concerns from the field.

Proving subject matter competence

Continuing a long-running conversation about lowering barriers to teaching credentials, staff presented two options for meeting the subject matter competence requirement for candidates in integrated undergraduate teacher preparation programs.

Candidates in integrated undergraduate teacher credentialing programs comprised of both a commission-approved subject matter preparation program (SMPP) and a commission-approved teacher preparation program have for many years been allowed to begin the daily whole class instruction portion of their student teaching after completion of four-fifths or 80 percent of the SMPP. One solution offered by staff is to extend this option to all eligible integrated undergraduate teacher credentialing candidates, including those in an SMPP program not approved by the commission, to begin in-class instruction without taking the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

The second option presented was to remove the requirement to meet subject matter competence prior to daily whole class instruction for all integrated undergraduate programs, and instead allow the program to set the timeline and a process for verifying that candidates are subject matter competent prior to being recommended for their preliminary teaching credential.

Commissioners discussed both options and noted the staff capacity issues that might impede the first option, with the need for program staff to determine which individuals have completed 80 percent of the coursework.

Commissioners approved the second option that would give programs the most flexibility in determining the best timeline for candidates to meet the subject matter competency requirement. Importantly, it recognizes that candidates who stay on track for their bachelor’s degree will meet subject matter competence prior to being recommended, consistent with statute

In other CTC news:
  • New Commissioner Phuong Uzoff attended the meeting as the teacher representative. She currently serves as a dedicated STEAM and computer science specialist for kindergarten through fifth grade in the El Segundo Unified School District.
  • The commission adopted the panel-recommended minimum passing standard for each of the subtests of the CSET: Art, CSET: MS Subtest III and CSET: Music examinations, applying a standard error of measurement adjustment of -1.5 to each of the panel-recommended cut scores. The commission also adopted the recommended passing standard of 2 for each task in both the Site Visitation Project and the Teaching Sample Project for the special education version of the Fresno Assessment of Student Teachers performance assessment.
  • Commissioners received an update on the activities of the Child Development Permit Workgroup, which is re-examining the permit parameters in view of the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, universal pre-kindergarten and the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential. Staff will be back to present the workgroup recommendations by fall 2024.

The next CTC meeting is scheduled for April 18-19, 2024.