Executive order temporarily suspends exam requirements for teacher candidates

Individuals enrolled in teacher preparation programs during the 2019–20 school year will be allowed to obtain their California preliminary credential without a teaching performance assessment, if they were unable to complete the requirement due to COVID-19 school and testing center closures. The relief for prospective teachers and districts hiring for the coming school year comes under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order issued on May 29.

Teachers and administrators who were on track to finish their preparation this year and have met all other credential program requirements can earn a preliminary credential without completing the  Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA), Administrator Performance Assessment (CalAPA) and/or the Reading Instructional Competence Assessment (RICA). These flexibilities do not waive the requirements altogether but allow candidates to complete the examinations and assessments when they pursue their clear credential.

“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,” CTC Executive Director Mary Vixie Sandy said in a statement. “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.”

More than half of the teachers and administrators in preparation programs this year were unable to complete all of their credential requirements due to school closures, according to CTC information presented during a June 1 webinar. The commission also posted guidance on the executive order that outlines responsibilities for employers, educators and program sponsors, in addition to adding updated FAQs on waivers.

“Because of COVID, our new teachers missed significant portions of their preparation to teach,” said CTC Chair Tine Sloan. “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.”

A second part of the order — largely to help address the state’s chronic teacher shortage — allows credential program applicants who were unable to complete the required California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) prior to admission to a credential program to instead complete the CBEST during their program. Current intern program candidates unable to complete their subject matter examination (CSET) will also be able to enter their programs and begin teaching. Individuals must still complete both testing requirements prior to being recommended for a preliminary credential, with the provisions only applying to candidates impacted by testing center closures between March 19 and Aug. 31, 2020.

The CBEST changes, Sandy said, allow “more than 10,000 prospective teachers to enter preparation programs next year, enabling the state to continue making progress on shoring up its teaching ranks and addressing chronic shortages.”

The executive order follows the granting of various flexibilities for teacher credential candidates adopted at the commission’s April 23–24 meeting.