By Teri Burns, Senior Director for Policy and Programs
This month’s meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) had comparatively light agenda because one item managed to stir up the whole of the education community and absorb a full afternoon of the two-day meeting.
The leading issue before the CCTC is how teacher interns are credentialed if they are not fully prepared English language (EL) instructors. As a result of the robust interest and dialogue, the CTC directed staff to engage a stakeholder meeting to identify timely solutions to clarify which teacher interns are fully prepared to teach English learners and which are still in the training stage.
Initially Public Advocates, speaking on behalf of English language learner students and parents, advised the Commission of intent to sue the CCTC unless the intern credential made it clear that interns are not fully prepared EL instructors. In response, staff recommended at the January meeting that the CCTC consider creating a differential intern credential to indicate those who are not EL certified. Interested parties from a number of diverse interests came forward and the depth of the discussion on the issue on this month’s agenda is reflective of stakeholder interest and concern.
The California School Boards Association joined several of the administrator groups in sending a letter to the Commission to express the need to improve the intern programs, and not brand individuals as unqualified. CSBA’s belief is that public schools need to continue to allow interns to serve where needed under the real guidance and mentoring of experienced teachers.
CSBA acknowledges that interns are just that, beginners learning to teach, but that they are more fully prepared than others on emergency waivers and often the best available choice to serve students in the absence of fully credentialed staff. CSBA believes that intern teacher programs need to emphasize EL instruction and be held accountable for providing teaching candidates who can serve the community in which they teach. Those programs unable or unwilling to provide that content and the necessary oversight need to be phased out quickly.
Stakeholders will meet in the next few weeks to provide recommendations for regulations and program criteria that will help the educational community ensure that students are getting skilled EL teachers. Moreover, the educational community is also committed to ensuring that parents are aware when their children’s teachers are still in the early learning stages of those skills and should be getting quality mentoring support. Additionally, civil rights advocates want to be able to see which groups of children are getting which teachers for accountability purposes. Expect more on this topic at the April CCTC meeting.