Commission on Teacher Credentialing wraps up the year with reflections on ethnic studies; new leadership

The Dec. 8-9 meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing featured the presentation of several required end-of-year reports and a passionate discussion about subject matter competence and history, social sciences and ethnic studies. The meeting was the last for Chair Tine Sloan and Commissioner Terri Jackson. Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, the commission’s public representative, was elected the new chair and Marysol De La Torre-Escobedo, a teacher representative, was elected as vice chair.

In her final report as chair, Sloan shared her own experiences as a student whose second language was English and shared her “utmost respect, awe and gratitude for all of you who teach children every day.”

Report card on teacher preparation programs

Commission staff presented the “Annual Report Card on California Teacher Preparation Programs for the Academic Year 2020–21,” which includes a description of credentialing requirements to teach in California public schools and qualitative and quantitative information on teacher preparation programs.

Title II of the Higher Education Act, as amended in 2008, calls for increased accountability measures for programs that prepare teachers and requires annual reports from each institution of higher education that conducts a traditional initial teacher preparation program or an alternative route program to state certification or that enrolls students receiving federal assistance under the Higher Education Act.

Included in the report is program information, admission requirements, supervised clinical experience, enrollment by gender and race/ethnicity, teachers prepared by subject area, teachers prepared by academic major, program completers, and number of credentials issued; evaluation of annual quantifiable goals for increasing the number of prospective teachers trained in shortage areas designated by the U.S. Secretary of Education or the state educational agency, including math, science, special education; credential requirements; and assessment information.

Title II data are intended to inform students and aspiring teachers, the education community, institutions of higher education, Congress, researchers, policymakers and the public about the quality teacher preparation in the U.S.  The Title II report submitted by each state is made available at the federal Title II website.

Subject matter competence hearing

A public hearing requested by a member of the public was held on the proposed regulations approved by the commission at its June 2022 meeting to clarify and standardize implementation of options for meeting the subject matter competence requirement in Education Code sections 44259 and 44310,  created by Assembly Bill 130.

The majority of public comments submitted expressed disapproval of the proposed Education Code change, Title 5, Division 8, Chapter 1, Article 3, §80096 Subject Matter Competency, enabling college graduates with a major in ethnic studies to automatically qualify for teaching History and Social Sciences in grades 7-12, asserting that these candidates were not adequately prepared to teach the broader subject areas.

While agreeing to pause approval of the History and Social Sciences subject matter competency domains while staff looked further into concerns, commissioners shared personal experiences and their thoughts on this moment in public education to underscore the importance of viewing ethnic studies as an integral part of the curriculum.

Commissioner Marysol De La Torre-Escobedo, a current social science teacher, shared that she was an Ethnic Studies major and felt offended when a professor told her during her studies that she was not prepared to teach all of the domains of social science, but acknowledged the wide range those domains cover and the difficulty of determining subject matter competence.

“I really want to recognize ethnic studies for the discipline that it is — it’s come a long way,” said De La Torre-Escobedo. “I think as we see ethnic studies play out in our PK-12 classrooms — there’s a lot of great stuff happening. Because we’re trying to figure out ethnic studies in our classrooms, and out in the field departments of education are also trying to figure out what the professional development looks like, this is an opportunity for us to take a pause and really get this one right.”

Commissioner Christopher Davis grounded the meeting item in the current social climate and agreed with the need to further study the matter. “So many of the conversations that I’ve had and the written comments here use words like ‘indoctrination,’ ‘political agenda,’ ‘ideological point of view.’ It’s become very inflammatory in this country, and I would say that we should set aside the language that polarizes us. We need to figure out with intentionality and depth of thought, how is [ethnic studies] integrated and not integrated into our K-12 curriculum?

“The elephant in the room is that currently in the public school system, we do look at each one of those domains from a particular point of view,” continued Davis. “And it is not necessarily inclusive of the lived histories and experiences of young people and their families in this country. We are in a very different time. The minority has become the mighty majority.”

The commission adopted moving the regulatory package forward with the exception of amending the proposed regulations around the majors related to the History and Social Science credential, in order to determine the majors that can or cannot suffice for that requirement. Staff was directed to bring the topic back at the February commission meeting.

Annual accreditation report

The Committee on Accreditation (COA) — which oversees the process of identifying and verifying the quality of each program that prepares educators for serving in the public schools, including verifying that each candidate who completes a program meets the qualifications for licensure established by the CTC — presented the 2021–22 Annual Accreditation Report of the Committee on Accreditation. The major purpose of accreditation is to assure that those who teach and provide a variety of education-related services in public schools have the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to be effective educators.

The duties of the COA include making decisions about accreditation of educator preparation; making decisions about the initial accreditation of new programs of educator preparation in accordance with procedures established by the committee; determining the comparability of standards submitted by applicants with those adopted by the commission in accordance with the Accreditation Framework; adopting guidelines for accreditation reviews, and monitoring the performance of accreditation teams and other aspects of the accreditation system; presenting an annual accreditation report to the commission and responding to accreditation issues and concerns referred to the COA by the commission.

Currently, California has 942 commission-approved programs; however, 32 of these are inactive. All accreditation site visit reports are available to view online.

Other commission meeting topics: