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Credential Changes on the Horizon

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has been wrestling for the past year and a half with how to address demand from the field for “dual credentialing,” or teachers who can teach CTE in the academic core. Districts from across the state have argued for the importance of integrating their academic and CTE offerings, particularly as they create more college and career pathways, and strive to give every student access to both college and career preparation.

Building college and career pathways with interdisciplinary teacher teams and a CTE core sequence transforms students’ experience of education. It often requires additional resources so that students can access technical content. Perkins funding is a major source of funding for those resources, but a CTE credentialed teacher is required for classrooms to qualify for Perkins funding. Where more teachers are dual credentialed, key subjects are more readily contextualized, programs of study are streamlined and get a-g credit, and master scheduling is facilitated.

A teacher with a clear credential can obtain a CTE credential with three years (1000 hours = a year) of industry experience, but teaching, an advanced industry certificate in the appropriate field, or academic coursework can each count as equivalent to one year, for a total of two years in equivalencies. 1000 hours, however, must be met by experience in the industry field. In addition, that teacher must take a core CTE course.

Because of the shortage of CTE teachers in high demand fields such as information technology, engineering and health, leaders working to build college and career pathways have sought ways to prepare current teachers to teach CTE courses. Districts have surveyed their faculty to find those with industry experience, sponsored courses to introduce them to the core course in CTE instruction, and developed externship programs to introduce them to industry careers and partners. Getting current high school teachers the minimum 1000 hours of industry experience, however, has proven challenging.

Many Pathway Teacher Workforce Network members have testified, written letters, and participated in CTC working groups to develop proposals for bridging Designated Subject (CTE) and Single Subject credentials in order to meet these demands. At the late October meeting of the CTC, the first of these proposals will be considered.

Bridging Single Subject and CTE Credentials: The proposed Externship Credential would allow single subject teachers who have at least 500 hours of industry experience to earn the remaining required hours in 250 hour annual increments, during which their classroom would qualify for federal Perkins funding.

If approved by the Commission in October, the proposed Externship Credential will not be available until regulations have been developed and approved.  Once a credential has been established, LEAs authorized to offer Designated Subjects credential can add that credential to their program, and would verifying the completion of 250 hours of appropriate industry experience at the end of each year if the credential is to be renewed. Only teachers who already have at least 500 hours of industry experience, and have completed the CTE core course would be eligible. Up to 2000 of the 3000 hours of industry experience can be met with equivalencies.

Single subject teachers who access the Externship Credential will require deliberately-designed and substantial industry experience, which will also need to be incentivized. Programs should provide teachers with broad knowledge of the industry field, including the range of workplace contexts and careers, industry-specific technical skills, and industry-based applications to foundational academic content. Districts and County Offices of Education may want to begin discussions with industry partners now to develop deliberate, substantive, and incentivized programs that can ramp up once the credential is available.

Bridging CTE and Single Subject Credentials: A second bridge under discussion by CTC staff would allow a CTE-credentialed teacher to obtain a single subject credential that authorizes teaching in the academic core. This bridge is more challenging for several reasons. CTE teachers often do not receive the level of pre-service training or induction support that academic teachers are mandated to receive. Moreover, many CTE faculty do not have bachelors’ degrees, a requirement for teaching in the academic core under No Child Left Behind, which remains in California’s regulations. Therefore, a bridge to an academic credential must include a means to establish both teaching and subject matter competency, and provide avenues to support CTE teachers to obtain bachelors’ degrees.

Teaching Competency: New teachers must complete a rigorous portfolio and performance-based assessment of their teaching skills, the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA). One of the issues under discussion is whether CTE teachers should also have to complete such an assessment to demonstrate their teaching competencies. Teachers who move into public schools from private schools with six years of teaching experience are not required to do so. The same standard may be applied to CTE teachers with six years of successful teaching experience. While many teaching skills cross disciplines, there are also teaching skills and content standards specific to each discipline, for which a methodology course would be required.

Subject Matter Competency: Although many states equate the workplace experience of CTE teachers with academic experience, California does not. In fact, CTE teachers cannot even use the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) to demonstrate their subject matter competence. Legislation is currently being developed to change this requirement.

Bachelor’s Degrees: To support CTE faculty to obtain academic credit for work-based learning, CSU San Bernardino has an accelerated bachelor’s programs in Career and Technical Studies that allows up to 45 quarter units of prior learning credit through a Career and Technical Evaluation of Competency. This avenue to validate the work-based learning experience of CTE faculty could be expanded. It is also easily coupled with an intern credential program, which provides faculty with additional support in teaching the academic content.