CTC discusses pathways for early childhood education teachers

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing convened on the final day of September, discussing the establishment of multiple accessible pathways for a permit or credential authorizing service in state preschool and universal transitional kindergarten, as well as a report on California Teacher Preparation Programs for the 2019–20 academic year.

Following unprecedented investments in early childhood education from the state, and with the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care in play, there is an increasing demand for qualified TK and preK teachers. Estimated shortages for universal TK alone could be as high as 10,000 teachers, according to a Center for the Study of Child Care Employment report.

For that reason, the CTC is considering creative, feasible approaches to address the need for early childhood teachers. A staff presentation given by Professional Services Division administrator Phyllis Jacobson outlined a proposal to expand the pool of early childhood education teachers by drawing from multiple subject credential holders and holders of a child development permit who are interested in teaching preK-3.

Of the existing and relevant credentials, the early childhood specialist credential was highlighted as one that could be revised and repurposed to address teaching in PK-3 to meet workforce needs. The revised credential would focus on the knowledge and abilities needed to educate young learners, including the full range of appropriate principles and practices like support for dual language learners, social-emotional, mental and physical health and developmentally appropriate pedagogy.

This credential could serve as a bridge linking the childhood development permit and the multiple subject credential workforce and making both groups of teachers available to serve in TK, according to Jacobson. Those with a child development or higher-level permit with a bachelor’s degree could be prepared and authorized to teach TK-3. Holders of a multiple subject credential could add the early childhood education specialist credential with 24 units of ECE coursework or the equivalent.

To assist prospective candidates who need to complete a degree or teacher preparation program, local educational agencies could apply for grants administered by the commission, including the California Classified School Employees Teacher Credentialing Grant Program, the California Teacher Residency Grant Program and the Golden State Teacher Grant.

CSBA President and CTC Commissioner Dr. Susan Heredia voiced her support for flexible ways to offer coursework, especially for those in rural communities where there are limited resources and where the pandemic has hit especially hard on multiple fronts. She cited several examples of programming held at community centers, elementary schools and even apartment complexes, also noting the potential of apprenticeship programs for those who have long been in the field.

California Teacher Preparation Programs data and more

During the one-day meeting, the commission approved the 2019–20 Annual Report Card on California Teacher Preparation Programs. The report will be reformatted and sent to the U.S. Department of Education by the Oct. 31 deadline. A finalized version will also be made available on the commission’s website.

The document highlights an increase in total candidate enrollment, including program completers from the prior year. Additionally, more than half of candidates identify themselves as non-white, adding to the diversity of the incoming teacher workforce, which research shows benefits all students.

The report also discusses the teacher shortage and what the state is doing to address it as well as other efforts to improve the quality of the teacher workforce.

Commission members and staff discussed how the data can inform their work, including braiding together teacher preparation resources for an easier understanding of how grants and other funds can be used together by candidates, as well as how numbers can inform work toward promoting diversity and planning for local and statewide needs.

In other Commission news:

  • Heredia shared with fellow commissioners and attendees the increasing hostility and disruption school boards across the state are facing when trying to conduct the public’s business during board meetings, particularly around subjects like COVID-19 mitigation strategies, and the lack of help some districts are receiving from local law enforcement in keeping everyone safe. Heredia outlined a letter that CSBA sent to the Governor on Sept. 24 asking for his support on the matter.
  • A legislative update included discussion on Assembly Bill 167, which relaxed rules and allows substitute teachers to serve in one classroom for up to 60 cumulative days through July 1, 2022, to temporarily address the substitute teacher shortage, as well as an update on AB 898 (Lee, D-San Jose), legislation on expunging criminal records. The Commission took a stance of “Oppose Unless Amended” and had concerns about being able to properly review a teaching candidate’s criminal background and whether it will impact the candidate’s fitness for credentialing. It was signed by the Governor in September with no signing message. “We’ll be working with the administration and legislative leadership to craft a solution to the penal codes section the next session before that section goes into effect on Aug. 1, 2022,” said Sasha Horwitz, government relations and public affairs manager of the Administrative Services Division.
  • The Bay Area K-8 Los Altos School District was granted eligibility to move forward to stage three in the Initial Institutional Approval process. The district is seeking approval to offer a teacher induction program.
  • An update was provided on the Local Solutions to the Shortage of Special Education Teachers grant program, including data collected for year two (July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) of the Local Solutions grant program. In the 2018 state budget, $50 million was included to address teacher shortages in special education and 41 LEAs were awarded grants to implement locally designed solutions to increase the number of special education teachers. Of note, 98 percent of Local Solutions participants who received a teacher service scholarship, signing bonus and/or student debt payment are on track to be hired.

A recording of the meeting will be available to view on the CTC’s YouTube page.