At the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Commission) meeting on June 15th, the Commission had two critical items (3A and 3B) up for consideration related to the creation of a PK-3 Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialist Credential through revision of the existing ECE Specialist Credential. The Commission first proposed revising the ECE Specialist Credential in September 2021 to help increase the number of qualified educators prepared to teach Transitional Kindergarten (TK) as it expands to serve all 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year. Since first proposed, the Commission has facilitated work groups and stakeholder sessions to elicit input on what requirements, standards, and competencies should be included for the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential and options for how those standards can be met. The underlying goal of this initiative is to build upon the competencies and experience of the existing ECE workforce and build multiple pathways for Early Learning educators to be eligible to teach in TK, and ultimately across the PK-3rd grade spectrum.
Item 3A: Proposed Authorization Statement and Credential Requirements for the PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential
The Commission began the discussion on the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential with Item 3A. This agenda item provided for potential adoption by the Commission the proposed Authorization Statement and Credential Requirements for transitioning the current ECE Specialist Credential into the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential. The item was presented to the Commission by staff, Phyllis Jacobson, in collaboration with Erin Skubal, Director, Certification Division, and Renee Marshall, California Community Colleges Teacher Preparation Programs, and with support from Sarah Neville-Morgan, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Deborah Stipek, Professor Emeritus, Stanford Graduate School of Education.
This item focused on two key elements for establishing the reimagined PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential:
- The proposed Authorization Statement for the credential, which is needed to frame what services the credential holder is allowed to perform.
- The proposed Credential Requirements and candidate pathways for meeting the proposed requirements. The proposed pathways and options for meeting the credential requirements can be found in the Item 3A Agenda Insert on page 2.
The requirements and candidate pathways are intended to build upon existing educator experience as either a preschool teacher or Multiple Subject Credential holder in order to ensure that the candidate has both a K-12 and ECE knowledge-base to deliver developmentally appropriate instruction and practices in the TK classroom.
Before the presentation on the item began, Commission Executive Director, Mary Sandy, addressed a few key questions that had been raised by stakeholders leading up to the meeting in regards to this item. First, she explained the main goal of this credential is to ensure that the state has enough qualified teachers to teach TK as it is expanded. Sandy then addressed some of the main concerns heard from stakeholders about the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential, which included questions about its level of rigor compared to a Multiple Subject Credential; concerns about how literacy requirements will be included in the credential requirements; and, questions about the Commission’s authority to create this credential. In addressing these concerns, Sandy assured the Commission and stakeholders that rigor is a high priority, literacy requirements and assessment will be incorporated into the credential, and asserted that the Commission believes it has the authority to revise this credential without approval of the Legislature, but will be looking into this further with its legal team to ensure that there is no doubt of its authority.
After the presentation of the item, stakeholders were given the opportunity to provide public comment. The public comment was varied and diverse and is detailed via written comment on the Commission’s website. Early Edge California vocalized its support for the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential and highlighted the importance of working closely with practitioners throughout implementation to ensure success.
Commissioners then discussed the Item at length, along with the comments raised by the public. The Commission voted to approve the Authorization Statement. It then talked through each requirement and pathway option and voted on whether or not to endorse the following elements, which are detailed in the Item 3A Agenda Insert.
- Subject Matter Preparation Requirements:
- Voted to endorse Options A & B, but hold on C for now.
- Teacher Preparation Requirements:
- Voted to endorse and include specific language related to literacy requirements included in SB 488.
- Expedited Pathway for Experienced Child Development Teachers to Earn the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential
- Did not endorse. Asked staff to further consider how the Commission would measure “satisfactory” experience.
The endorsement votes signaled to Commission staff which credential requirements and options staff should forward with the development of regulations for consideration at the August 2022 Commission meeting.
Item 3B: Proposed Adoption of Teaching Performance Expectations and Program Standards for the PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential
The next item relevant to the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential the Commission considered was Item 3B. This agenda item focused on the proposed Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) and Preparation Program Standards for the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential. This item was presented by Commission staff, Phyllis Jacobson, Administrator, and Cassandra Henderson, Consultant, Professional Services Division.
The TPEs describe the set of knowledge, skills, and abilities that are expected from a teacher credential candidate to teach these grade levels. The TPEs include:
- TPE 1: Engaging and Supporting All Young Children in Learning
- TPE 2: Creating and Maintaining Effective Environments for Children’s Development and Learning
- TPE 3: Understanding and Organizing Core Curriculum for Children’s Learning
- TPE 4: Planning Instruction and Designing Developmentally Appropriate Learning Experiences for All Children
- TPE 5: Assessing and Documenting Children’s Development and Learning
- TPE 6: Developing as a Professional Early Childhood Educator
The Preparation Program Standards range from topics that analyze the program’s design and curriculum, opportunities for candidates to learn and master the TPEs, clinical practice opportunities, equity, diversity, and inclusion, monitoring a candidate’s progress, implementation of a teaching performance assessment, and an individual development plan.
During public comment, stakeholders raised that the TPEs needed further revisions, such as further revisions to Standard 4 which focuses on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Stakeholders also asked to revise and include additional language from SB 488 that helps meet the needs of students with disabilities.
Early Edge delivered remarks that urged the Commission to provide greater focus on Multilingual Learners (MLs) through culturally and linguistically appropriate practices, home language development, and engaging diverse families. In addition, Early Edge emphasized the need for a continued collaboration with institutes of higher education to adequately prepare future teachers to support Dual Language Learners’ (DLLs) overall development.
The Commission endorsed the TPEs and Standards from the agenda item and will reconvene in August with a regulations package that will contain comments and revisions based on the meeting from June 15, 2022.
Upon discussion, the Commission suggested that Standard 4: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion language should be further revised to address issues raised during public comment including highlighting the English Learner roadmap and home language development to provide a stronger focus on MLs.
The Commission will reconvene August 25-26th to revisit the PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential and review the revisions and regulations staff drafted based on the discussion in this meeting.