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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on June 17th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 16 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 16

Cunningham bill expands qualification options for teacher credential candidates

By Malea Martin

The state Assembly unanimously passed a bill to address statewide teacher shortages on June 10. 

Introduced by Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), Assembly Bill 1982, would allow teacher credential candidates to satisfy the state’s Basic Skills Requirement with an A or B grade in accredited courses approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

The bill was introduced in January, before California experienced major closures or cancellations related to COVID-19. Cunningham’s chief of staff, Nick Mirman, said that the pandemic makes the bill even more relevant.

“When the COVID-19 crisis hit and the state canceled all of their standardized testing for the rest of the year, we realized after a conversation with the California Teachers Association and the state Assembly Education Committee that this bill could have a real positive impact on the teaching pipeline,” he said.

Currently, teacher credential candidates can satisfy the state’s requirements through various standardized testing options. Among these options are passing the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST); passing the California Subject Examinations for Teachers; using qualifying scores from past AP, SAT, or ACT tests; and other test-based options. 

But as Mirman explained, standardized testing has seen widespread cancellation due to COVID-19, preventing people from taking these qualifying tests. The bill would grant credential candidates another, potentially more accessible option.

“The CBEST costs a few hundred bucks to take. They’re normally only offered at certain times of the year, this year they’re not being offered at all, and next year we don’t know if they’ll be offered,” Mirman said. “So it’s just about providing options for folks and trying to get more good students interested in the teaching profession.”

While COVID-19 has exacerbated the need for these additional options, Cunningham originally wrote the bill in an effort to bring the student-teacher ratio in California back to pre-recession levels.

“We need 187 new teachers in the 35th Assembly District alone to get our student-to-teacher ratio back to where we were before the Great Recession,” Cunningham wrote in a press release, citing data from the Learning Policy Institute. “In order to get more qualified teaching candidates into the pipeline, we need flexibility to meet the state’s requirements.”

According to Santa Maria-Bonita School District Public Information Officer Maggie White, her district does not have a shortage of teachers, rather it has a shortage of substitutes. 

“Many teachers want to come to this area of California, and we have our choice of applicants,” White said via email. 

She said, for example, that the district had no trouble recently hiring 27 teachers for both the new Libbon Elementary School and to fill retirements or resignations. The struggle the district faces, she wrote, is finding “qualified, available” substitute teachers.

According to teaching-certification.com, those seeking a California Substitute Teaching License must also meet the Basic Skills Requirement, so AB 1982 would provide additional options for aspiring substitutes to become licensed as well. 

Mirman said the bill has to go through the state Senate. In the meantime, he said the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is working on its list of the specific classes allowed to meet the requirements under the bill.

“It will be heard in the Senate in July or early August in the Senate Education Committee, and then it will move through the process from there,” he said. 








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