Undergraduates - Getting a Head Start
Although completion of an approved teacher education program is one requirement to becoming a teacher in California, there are other requirements that can be fulfilled while completing an undergraduate degree. Fulfilling these requirements and getting a head start will ensure that you can focus your attention on course work requirements and experiences in the classroom once you begin a teacher education program. Deciding what you want to teach will also be important.
There are three main categories of teaching credentials issued in California: elementary, secondary, and special education. Teachers who teach mainly in grades K-6 hold Multiple Subject credentials. Teachers at the middle and high school level hold Single Subject credentials in one of 16 subjects. Special education teachers may teach at different grade levels, but teach students with varying degrees of disability, and hold Education Specialist credentials. These credentials are issued by theCalifornia Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).
The CTC is an independent agency created in 1970 as part of the state's renewed focus on educator standards. It establishes, maintains, and enforces standards for teacher preparation, licensing, and discipline, and is responsible for the accreditation of more than 900 teacher preparation programs.
By clicking on the links to the three types of credentials listed above, you can view the CTC requirements for each. If you compare credential requirements, you'll see that there are several requirements common to all three credentials. Of these, four can be fulfilled while you are still an undergraduate:
BASIC SKILLS PROFICIENCY
This requirement is fulfilled by exam, coursework or a combination of coursework and exam. One may take the CBEST exam, use their SAT scores, ACT scores or AP scores to meet the requirement by receiving a specific score mandated by the CTC, if they do not have appropriate coursework. For more information, please refer to the Credential Office Basic Skills page.
Candidates should know that Basic Skills exam scores do not expire, CSET: Writing
Skills score expire after 10 years from being taken. If any one of the CSET subtests
is over 10 years old at the time you apply for your credential, you will be required
to take it again. Once the preliminary credential is issued, the expiration date is
no longer valid, since the credential "locks" the date.
SUBJECT MATTER COMPETENCE
Multiple Subjects and Single Subject candidates will need to take the CSET exam to fulfill this requirement, IF they do not have a degree that matches exactly as the subject area of the credential one is pursuing or equivalent coursework based off of CTC requirements. Education Specialist candidates may take any approved-subject matter CSET exam IFthey do not have a degree that matches a CTC-approved single subject or in Liberal Studies. If they do not have a degree, they may have their coursework evaluated for equivalency. For more information, please refer to the Credential Office Subject Matter page.
CSET scores expire after 10 years from being taken. If any one of the CSET subtests is over 10 years old at the time you apply for your credential, you will be required to take it again. Once the preliminary credential is issued, the expiration date is no longer valid, since the credential "locks" the date.
Many colleges and universities offer courses or exams to fulfill this requirement. You should check with a counselor at the college or university to find out which course, or courses, are approved. In addition to several approved courses in political science and history, Cal Lutheran offers a one-day prep and exam through the Continuing and Professional Education Department which also fulfills this requirement. CSU graduates fulfill the requirement in their undergraduate requirements.
CERTIFICATE OF CLEARANCE
This requirement is listed last because it is the one requirement you may want to wait to fulfill until approximately two months before graduation. The Certificate of Clearance is fingerprint clearance required by the CCTC before any student teaching can be performed, and for credential issuance. This is a one-time clearance for all certification issued to you by the CCTC. But since the clearance is only valid for five years, you must apply for your first (substitute) permit or credential within that five year period. At one time, an actual certificate was mailed to candidates when clearance was issued, thus the name. However, verification can now be obtained online at the CCTC web site, and certificates are no longer issued.
Once the fingerprinting process has been completed and the applicant has completed the online application, it usually takes only a few weeks to receive clearance. The applicant's fingerprints are compared to the records maintained by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Justice. However, applicants with a criminal conviction can expect clearance to take anywhere from two months up to a year or longer.
If the conviction is not on the list (CA Ed Code 44346.1 and 44424) requiring the CCTC to deny the application, the Commission will consider how long ago the misconduct occurred, any prior record of misconduct, references, rehabilitation, and other factors.
If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor (with the exception of minor traffic/parking violations) or felony, you should consider the additional processing/review time and apply for clearance accordingly. Advancement in a teacher preparation program can be affected by a delay in receiving the Certificate of Clearance.
For complete information on applying for clearance, look for the Certificate of Clearance link on the Cal Lutheran Credential Information web site.
For more information regarding the application process into one of our teacher education programs at Cal Lutheran, visit the Graduate Admission web site, or call 805-493-3325 to schedule an appointment with a Graduate Admission Counselor.