LPI report finds clinical support and access to subject-area training are important to teacher preparedness

A recent report from The Learning Policy Institute (LPI), Educating Teachers in California: What Matters for Teacher Preparedness?, explores the survey responses of nearly 60,000 individuals who completed teacher preparation programs (TPP) and applied for their primary teaching credentials between 2016–17 and 2020–21.

More than 90 percent of survey respondents rated their programs positively, LPI found. The state is also seeing an increasingly large and diverse pool of graduates from TPPs.

In the last decade, the standards for teacher preparation and credentialing in California have been revised with investments made in high-retention pathways for those interested in entering the field. With the new accreditation system, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing collects feedback from those who successfully finish a program and are in pursuit of a preliminary teaching credential.

According to the report, California has three main pathways for aspiring teachers: completing a preservice TPP with supervised student teaching or residency under the direction of a cooperating or mentor teacher prior to working as a teacher of record; taking part in an internship program where candidates who have demonstrated subject matter competency complete their preparation program while working as a teacher of record; or obtaining an emergency-style permit and starting to teach in a district that can’t fill its vacancy with a fully credential teacher while also enrolling in a TPP to gain a credential. The state offers preliminary credentials for multiple and single subject teachers as well as for education specialists.

Having high-quality opportunities for teacher preparation is key to ensuring a stable educator workforce.

The teacher shortage became apparent in 2015 after a long period of declining enrollment in TPPs and, “in 2016–17, the number of substandard credentials issued in the state outpaced the number of new preliminary credentials issued to teachers prepared in California TPPs,” according to the report.

Sizeable investments in new program models like teacher residencies and service scholarships have been made since then and data suggests that they are paying off.

Per the CTC’s California Educator Supply dashboard, there was a 35 percent increase in the number of California TPP completers applying for a new preliminary teaching credential from 2016–17 to 2020–21 — a jump of 12,245 to 16,554 completers, respectively.

“The number of preliminary teaching credentials issued by the CTC has been increasing since 2016–17,” according to the report. “In the two years following 2018–19, when many of the new state investments were beginning to be implemented, the number of fully prepared new entrants increased by about 3,300, while the number of emergency-style permits decreased by about 2,500.”

From 2016–17 to 2020–21, the percent of program completers with more in-depth preservice preparation, like involvement in student teaching and residency programs, increased by 53 percent. The number of Latino/a candidates more than double in the time period from 2,492 to 5,292. In 2020– 21, the number of survey respondents who identified themselves as teachers of color was 53 percent, compared to 39 percent in 2016–17. On a national level, 27 percent of recent program completers identified themselves as a person of color.

In California, roughly 80 institutions of higher education and 25 local educational agencies have their own preparation programs. Ten percent of those surveyed in 2020–21 reported participation in teacher residencies and 60 percent of those residency completers were teachers of color, according to the report. The residencies are run by institutions of higher education in partnership with LEAs and offer a full school year of subsidized clinical training while candidates complete their credential coursework. Additionally, 61 percent of survey respondents said they had participated in student teaching programs and 25 percent had taken part in internships.


Overall, “Clinical support and access to subject-area preparation are strong predictors of overall feelings of preparedness. Graduates of new preservice residencies and student teaching programs report feeling better prepared than those entering as interns or on emergency-style permits,” the report found. “However, access to higher-rated programs offering more clinical support varies, with half of Black and Native American candidates, as well as most special education candidates, entering without access to student teaching.”

Considerations for policymakers and practitioners suggested by LPI include:

  • Continuing to grow and improve access to high-quality preparation experiences and pathways, particularly for education specialists and historically underserved candidates of color.
  • Increasing opportunities for teacher candidates to learn how to work with families and support the needs of English learners and students with disabilities by deepening coursework and clinical learning opportunities, supporting TPPs in redesigning their programs, and expanding access to dual credential programs.
  • Strengthening access to high-quality preparation by improving the quality of all pathways through the implementation and enforcement of CTC’s new accreditation framework.
  • Supporting TPPs in using their survey data for continuous improvement.