CTC meeting highlights need for more teacher diversity, makes changes to proctoring and structure of assessments

CSBA President-elect Dr. Susan Heredia joins the commission as the board member representative

In a packed three-day meeting taking place April 14–16, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing held a rich discussion about the diversity of teachers in the state, approved a portion of the Education Specialist Teaching Performance Assessment, and approved adjustments to Commission-owned examinations, including the highly debated Reading Instruction Competence Assessment.

CSBA President-elect Dr. Susan Heredia joined the CTC in her first meeting as a commissioner representing board members. Dr. Heredia brings a rich background not only in board governance but as the former Chair of the Graduate and Professional Studies in Education Division at California State University, Sacramento.

During the meeting, the commissioners unanimously voted to extend the waiver of preconditions related to demonstrated subject matter competence prior to student teaching for the 2021–22 school year. The chief reason to continue the waiver is ongoing issues with testing center closures and limitations on capacity due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

Teacher supply

A presentation of the report “Teacher Supply in California, 2019–20: A Report to the Legislature” lead to a discussion among commissioners on the issue of teacher diversity. Standing out was the finding that 73.3 percent of the current teaching force is female and 61.2 percent are white, while just 22.4 percent of students are white. While 54.9 percent of students are Latino, just 21.1 percent of teachers are. Those numbers, however, have been slowly increasing since 2014–15, when Latino teachers were 18.6 percent of the workforce.

Commission members noticed that no such progress is being made with Black educators and discussed barriers they may be facing. While 5.3 percent of the student population is Black, 3.9 percent of teachers are —and that number was the same in 2014–15. Dr. Heredia said that there has long been a need and a struggle to recruit Black students into teacher credentialing programs and to provide academic and other support to teacher candidates, including from colleagues outside of credentialing programs. “Those are the kinds of things we know make a difference, but how we systematically put those supports in place is so critical,” said Dr. Heredia. “And I think that’s the key — it’s a systematic approach to support that work.”

Student Commissioner Kori Jones emphasized that creating a positive school experience for all kids, and especially Black kids, is very important. “When they’re students in elementary school, how are they being treated?” asked Jones. “How we educate our teachers is so important in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion. Because historically, students of color’s experiences — specifically Black students’ experiences — haven’t been so positive. So, to expect for them to want to just flood in and be teachers, there has to be a lot of support there.”

Other findings revealed in the 2019–20 report include:

  • An increase in the number of newly issued credentials for Multiple Subject and Education Specialist credentials, while there was a small decline in the number of Single Subject credentials issued between 2018–19 and 2019–
  • After a steady decline for 10 consecutive years, 2019–20 was the sixth year in which there was an increase in the new teaching credentials.
  • California institutes of higher education prepared more than three-fourths (78.6 percent) of the total new teaching credentials issued in 2019– However, both California State University and University of California lost some enrollment (5 percentage points and 1.6 percentage points, respectively), while private/independent institutions have shown an increasing trend by 6.9 percentage points in the past five years.
  • More than 1,400 CTE credentials were issued in 15 different industry sectors in 2019–
  • After a significant increase in the number of Provisional Internship Permits and Short-Term Staff Permits issued in the first four years, there was a declining pattern between 2018–19 and 2019–
  • There has been a declining trend for all three types of Limited Assignment Teaching Permits between 2018–19 and 2019–
  • There was an increase in the number of waivers issued for teaching credentials by 3.9 percent between 2018–19 and 2019–
  • The estimated teacher hires data for 2020–21 indicate that more than two-thirds of the estimated teacher hires would occur in 10 counties and in seven subject areas.

Education Specialist credential

The CTC has worked diligently over the last five years to update its teacher credentialing system, following multiple recommendations from the California Statewide Special Education Task Force. The task force made recommendations to address several issues that were uncovered during its work. Reflecting on the recognition that changes throughout the credentialing system would benefit all teacher candidates, a set of universal teaching performance expectations (TPEs) was created.

The changes to the TPEs are necessary to prepare general education teachers to provide instruction to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment, as required by law. The development of the Education Specialist Teaching Performance Assessment has occurred against the backdrop of these significant changes in the framing of teacher preparation across the range of credentials.

How to balance attention between the universal TPEs and the specialized TPEs has been a driving question as staff, stakeholders and design team members consider what shape the Education Specialist TPA might take.

Results of a fall 2020 pilot study were presented in which participating programs gained valuable information about how to design courses and support candidates to prepare for the TPEs and the newly developed Education Specialist CAL TPA assessment. The report recommended a one-year extension to the Education Specialist assessment for Early Childhood Special Education (ESCE), Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) and Visual Impairment (VI), as it will likely have a significant impact on program design for these areas as varying pedagogical approaches, medical supports, and age considerations widely exist among these credentials.

The commission voted to commence the Education Specialist CalTPA for Mild to Moderate Support Needs and Extensive Support Needs in fall 2022, and to give an additional year to develop the assessment for ECSE, DHH and VI.

Commission assessments get updates

Program staff announced that there are new online proctoring opportunities for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET): Multiple Subjects Subtests I and III, and English Subtests I-IV; the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST); and the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA). In addition, the commission voted to retire the paper-based CBEST in favor of the already available computer-based exam.

A discussion through public comment and among commissioners brought to the forefront equity concerns and barriers presented by these tests, with the RICA a particular area of focus in the education community for many years.

Evidence suggests that the test does not have a direct correlation with how well an educator is able to teach literacy to students and it is cited as a significant barrier in obtaining a credential, particularly for students of color.

While assessments are set in statute by the Legislature, the commission approved key changes to the structure of the RICA that it said will allow for more equitable implementation and the ability to more easily retake portions of the test at a lower cost.

The commission approved two changes to the test: to divide the RICA Written Examination into three subtests for which examinees can individually register and pass, and 2) move the current RICA Video Performance Assessment to online candidate registration and submission platforms — currently the option uses outdated modes of collecting video, such as the requirement to physically mail in a copy.