CTC hears possible specialist pathways

August 24, 2020
The August meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing was attended by ACSA CTC Liaison Doug Gephart, who filed the following report. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has been engaged in a multi-year, cross-agency effort to address needed changes in the way students with disabilities are served in California public schools. This work was launched following the report of the Statewide Special Education Task Force in 2015, and has led the commission to restructure its Education Specialist teaching credentials including the development of new program standards and Teaching Performance Expectations for the preparation of both general education and special education teachers in a manner consistent with the state’s vision and expectations.  The commission previously adopted a new structure for the Preliminary Education Specialist teaching credentials that will take effect in summer/fall 2022. This credential structure is designed to support the vision of “one system for all” called for by the Statewide Special Education Taskforce. It was redesigned to provide more flexibility to meet the needs of students with disabilities while complying with federal guidelines relating to disability categories. The seven Education Specialist credential areas that previously existed were reorganized to five, eliminating the separate credentials for Language and Academic Development and Physical and Health Impairments.  The five new credential areas are:
  • Early Childhood Special Education. 
  • Visual Impairments. 
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing. 
  • Mild to Moderate Support Needs. 
  • Extensive Support Needs.
Historically, when credentials have been modified or expanded, the commission has developed a way for existing credential holders to obtain the new authorization without having to complete an entire preparation program. Of these five new credentials, three (Early Childhood Special Education, Mild to Moderate Support Needs, Extensive Support Needs) will have modified/expanded authorizations and, thus, would require existing Education Specialist credential holders to complete additional coursework and/or clinical practice if they are interested in obtaining the new authorization. The Visual Impairment and Deaf and Hard of Hearing credential authorizations will remain the same, therefore no bridge process will be necessary; current Education Specialist teachers will have the same authorization as the newly prepared teachers. The Mild to Moderate Support Needs and Extensive Support Needs credentials reflect a shift in focus from preparing teachers to serve students based on their primary disability to preparing teachers to serve students across a range of disabilities based on the intensity of their designated support needs. This means the new authorizations that accompany the new credentials are not solely limited to the federal disability categories — as the current credentials are — and are somewhat broader and more flexible than the authorizations associated with the current credentials. As the commission moves forward with these changes, holders of current Education Specialist credentials will continue to be authorized to serve the populations of students they are currently serving, without interruption and without a requirement that they must earn the new credential. Some holders of these existing credentials, however, may want to earn the broader authorization that accompanies the new credentials. Staff has identified three possible bridge pathways that a current Education Specialist credential holder could use to demonstrate mastery of the additional Teacher Performance Expectations: Coursework — Taking coursework to meet the additional knowledge, skills and abilities in the identified Teacher Performance Expectations would be one way to earn the new authorization statement. Approved educator preparation programs would possibly need to develop unique course(s). Professional development — Education Specialists who have participated in professional development aligned to the additional preparation content could use this as another route towards meeting the additional preparation content. Prior knowledge and experience/demonstrated competence — Education Specialists who have had experience with students with the identified disabilities may be able to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities in the additional preparation content. With the verification of their employer/Local Education Agency, they could prepare evidence that shows that they have demonstrated competence with the additional Teacher Performance Expectations. Education Specialist Teaching Performance Assessment One of the important outcomes in the Commission’s reform work in both special education and general education over the last several years is the development of a common or universal set of Teaching Performance Expectations that are met by both general education and special education candidates. These universal Teaching Performance Expectations establish a common foundation for all teachers, based on the concept that all teachers are teachers of all students, that all students are general education students first and that all students need intervention at different points in their academic career. The commission’s goal in establishing universal Teaching Performance Expectations is to ensure that all teachers learn the fundamentals of teaching, ideally in common coursework that allows for collaboration across credential types, and then each candidate specializes in the content of their particular credential area. The development of the Education Specialist Teaching Performance Assessment has taken place against the backdrop of these significant changes in the framing of teacher preparation across this range of credentials. How to balance attention between the universal Teacher Performance Expectations and the specialized Teacher Performance Expectations has been a driving question as staff, stakeholders, and design team members consider the design of the Education Specialist Teaching Performance Assessment. Structure of the Education Specialist CalTPA and key components:
The Design Team has come to consensus that the Education Specialist CalTPA will align with key qualities of the general education CalTPA with a task-based structure that is completed at two different times during a candidate’s preliminary preparation program. As proposed, a candidate must pass both of the cycles of instruction, following the plan, teach/assess, reflect and apply cycle. This supports an educative quality of the Education Specialist CalTPA and both builds upon the existing structure of the CalTPA, and assesses the unique Teacher Performance Expectations for education specialist candidates. Programs can support candidates in improving their teaching practice based on their assessment results for the first Cycle of Instruction. The two instructional cycles are purposefully developed to be completed in order, but the cycles are not dependent on each other. Instructional Cycle 1 could lead to the performance assessment developed and administered in Cycle 2 if the candidate is in the same classroom placement with the same students and it makes sense instructionally for the students and the candidate. Cycle 1, set for pilot study in fall 2020, is to be completed by all five credential area candidates. Given current events related to building closures and district policies regarding online video recording, the pilot study for Cycle 1 may be conducted in the spring of 2021. Cycle 2, currently under development, will be credential area specific. Cycle 2 is scheduled for a pilot study in the spring of 2021. Commission and ES staff will continue to meet with the Design Team and work with Education Specialist programs to transition programs in aligning with recently adopted Universal and Education Specialist TPE. Staff plans to provide an Education Specialist CalTPA development update and share findings from the pilot study analyses during the spring of 2021. Virtual teaching and learning: Issues and options for 2020-21 Clinical practice: A Professional Leadership Group, representing leaders from teacher preparation programs, provided guidance to commission staff in this era of online teaching and learning. The Professional Learning Group believes each teacher candidate should have some synchronous teaching experience as part of clinical practice. The target for clinical practice during 2020-21 continues to be 600 hours, but the focus should be on ensuring that candidates have sufficient experience to develop their teaching practice and demonstrate readiness for independent practice rather than a specific number of hours. Candidates should have extensive/significant experience with the full cycle of teaching activities that include planning lessons and units of instruction, engaging students in effective learning experiences, assessing and analyzing student learning, and reflecting on the full cycle of instruction to plan future instruction.  Teacher and administrator induction: Induction leaders for teachers and administrators discussed how the focus of induction is individualized for each candidate and how they are working with the candidates to develop their knowledge and skills to fine tune and apply the concepts gained in the preliminary preparation program. The program leaders identified the importance of understanding each candidate’s situation, including preliminary program requirements that remain to be met.  Child Development Permit: Early Childhood Education input group members were asked to identify flexibilities they wished the commission to consider that would support Child Development Permit candidates during the 2020-21 year. The group reviewed and came to consensus on the following list of proposed flexibilities: 1.     Accept electronic transcripts for Child Development Permit applications in addition to paper transcripts. 2.      Provide flexibility for programs offering the 3-unit supervised field experience to use a variety of implementation options to accommodate current COVID-19-related conditions in the field. 3.      Translate and make the Child Development Permit application form available in Spanish. 4.      Provide video and webinar updates on permit provisions on the Child Development Training Consortium and CTC sites. 5.      Modify observation hours for practicum classes to include specialized (intentional) online content for program participants that are in a 100 percent distance-learning model. 6.      Add the Child Development Permit to the commission’s online electronic application and recommendation system. 7.      Establish a grace period after expiration of the permit for renewal.  8.      Add Zoom or phone assistance as well as multi-lingual support for completion of the application. Initial institutional approvals  Full Initial Institutional Approval – Stage V: Turlock Unified School District: Institutions seeking to offer educator preparation program(s) in California must first satisfactorily complete five stages to be approved as a program sponsor. Turlock Unified School District is the first school district to complete all five stages and receive full institutional approval for teacher induction. Commission staff worked with Denise Duewell, coordinator of the Turlock Unified School District Teacher Induction program, on a monthly basis as she and the advisory council developed submissions for both program review and common standards. Stage III: San Benito County Office of Education: The Board of Institutional Review has found the common standard responses to be aligned and staff has found the preconditions to be met. Therefore, the commission granted three-year provisional approval to San Benito County Office of Education.   Stage III: Los Angeles Pacific University: The Board of Institutional Reviewers has found the common standard responses to be aligned and staff has found the preconditions to be met. Therefore, the Commission granted provisional approval for Los Angeles Pacific University. Approval will now allow Los Angeles Pacific University’s proposed Preliminary Multiple Subject program to be reviewed by the Board of Institutional Review and, if aligned, by the CTC Committee on Accreditation for potential program approval in Stage IV. Pupil Personnel Services program standards timeline In April 2019, the commission adopted new program standards for Pupil Personnel Services programs. These included Preconditions and Standards for School Counseling, School Psychology, School Social Work and Child Welfare and Attendance.   At the time of the adoption, the commission approved a transition window that required that all programs would be fully aligned to the new standards by fall 2021 for all candidates enrolled in these programs for the academic year 2021-22. In recent weeks, CTC staff has received numerous requests from Pupil Personnel Services programs for the commission to reconsider the date by which all programs must be fully aligned to the new standards given the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While some programs are eager to begin to implement the new standards, others are expressing significant barriers to being able to restructure curriculum and fieldwork at this time in order to meet the original fall 2021 transition deadline. The commission adopted a revised date by which all Pupil Personnel Services programs must be in alignment with the 2019 program standards — moving the date from fall 2021 to fall 2022. This change would mean that all new candidates enrolled after July 1, 2022 for the academic year 2022-23, would be enrolled in a program aligned to the new standards. Timeline and process for updating the commission’s strategic plan In December 2014, the commission adopted its current five-year strategic plan. Since that time, there have been significant changes in the policy environment, the context of schooling during a pandemic, growing awareness of the impact of inequity and systemic racism in society, election of a new governor and state superintendent of public instruction, and changes in the membership and leadership of the commission. The executive director’s priorities for 2020, which were presented to the commission during its January 2020 meeting, included engaging in strategic planning this year. Unleashing Leaders, a Sacramento-based consulting firm with experience in strategic plan development with state and governmental agencies, was hired earlier this year to assist the CTC with this effort. The strategic planning process will involve surveying stakeholders and staff and engaging deeply with commissioners about the broad goals that should guide our work over the next five years. Update on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession workgroup The workgroup is charged with making expert recommendations to the commission for the purpose of updating and refreshing the California Standards for the Teaching Profession. The California Standards for the Teaching Profession describe accomplished professional practices characterized by six overarching domains of teaching. These six domains are: 1)    Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning 2)    Creating and Maintaining Effective Environments for Student Learning 3)    Understanding and Organizing Subject Matter for Student Learning 4)    Planning Instruction and Designing Learning Experiences for All Students 5)    Assessing Students for Learning 6)    Developing as a Professional Educator A key component of updating the standards is the assurance that standards will continue to serve as the conceptual framework for the continuum of professional teaching practice in California. The initial workgroup meeting was scheduled for April 2020; however, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the April meeting was postponed. The first workgroup meeting took place virtually on June 23, 2020 and was co-facilitated with staff from the Commission, the California Department of Education, and the Region 15 California Comprehensive Center.  During the June meeting, the work focused on the alignment of the CSTP with the Teaching Performance Expectations. Information was presented on the various lenses through which the CSTP are utilized, from the adapted expectations for beginning teaching practice, to professional growth and development, throughout the path of a teaching career. The workgroup members shared their reflections on the impact of the CSTP, their vision for the CSTP, and areas considered to be the most important updates needed for the CSTP. They began to discuss and highlight necessary areas for CSTP updates in advancing teaching practice. These included the areas of social-emotional learning and an emphasis on cultural competency and culturally responsive teaching, equity, inclusion, alignment to the TPEs, and the need for relevant, specific, and concrete language that reflects all learners whether the learners be in person and/or in distance learning settings. The next CSTP Workgroup meetings are scheduled in September and November 2020. Division of Professional Practices workload report The commission’s dashboard reports on six key measurements in showing both current year numbers as well as prior year numbers for comparison purposes. The “total cases” are the number of open cases including cases in the intake unit, before the Committee of Credentials, pending before the commission, and pending an administrative hearing. At the end of June, the caseload was 2,647 and within the normal range of 2,600-2,800 cases. “Cases opened” are new cases received during the month, from all sources, including criminal arrest notices, district reports, affidavits, and educators who self-report misconduct. In June, staff opened 254 cases, which is well below the normal range of 400-500 cases per month. “Cases closed” is the number of matters closed in June by commission action, committee action or closed by staff where the commission has given formal delegation of authority (i.e. single alcohol offenses that do not involve schools, minors, or publicity). In June, 256 cases were closed, which is below the normal range of 400-500 cases per month. “AG cases” refer to cases in which an educator requests an administrative hearing to challenge the recommendation for discipline made by the committee. An administrative hearing is an evidentiary proceeding where an administrative law judge hears and rules on the evidence. The Office of the Attorney General represents the commission in these hearings. The number of cases currently at the administrative hearing stage is 147. Legislation Staff presented the status of those legislative measures of interest to the commission and addressed questions regarding any other legislation identified by commissioners. AB 2485 (Kalra), Teacher Credentialing: Subject Matter Competence — This bill would give teaching credential candidates additional flexibility for demonstrating that they meet the statutory Subject Matter Requirements for the credential they are seeking. In addition, candidates would be permitted to use undergraduate or graduate coursework to demonstrate competency aligned with existing Subject Matter Requirements. AB 1982 (Cunningham), Teacher Preparation Programs: Regionally Accredited Institutions — Summary: This bill would create a new option for teacher candidates to demonstrate the Basic Skills Requirement by permitting the commission to accept letter grades of B or higher in credit-bearing higher education coursework in basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills in the English language in place of the CBEST. SB 614 (Rubio), Teacher Credentialing: Reading Instruction — This bill would make changes to the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment statute. Upon enactment, it would repeal the RICA examination and require preparation programs to ensure candidates are prepared to teach reading and literacy through a program-embedded performance-based measure. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order suspending RICA for five years due to the restrictions and limitations of COVID-19. Teacher candidates will ultimately have to pass RICA in order to clear their credential provided RICA remains a requirement for earning a credential.

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