A California credential is required for employment in California public schools. Teacher candidates are required to demonstrate competence in the subject matter they will be authorized to teach. The subject matter program coursework and examinations are intended to be equivalent in content knowledge. Subject matter programs and examinations are aligned with the kindergarten‑twelfth (K-12) grade student academic content standards. The subject matter examinations are administered through a private contractor while the subject matter programs are offered through institutions of higher education. Subject matter programs are equivalent to a major in the subject and are typically housed in the corresponding academic departments of these institutions.
Step One: Research the types of teacher preparation programs
In California, subject matter preparation programs for prospective teachers are not the same as undergraduate degree programs. Post-secondary institutions govern academic programs that lead to the award of degrees, including baccalaureate degrees in English, mathematics, science and history. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) sets standards for academic programs that lead to the issuance of credentials. An applicant for a teaching credential must have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, but the degree may be in a subject other than the one to appear on the credential. Similarly, degree programs for undergraduate students may or may not fulfill the Commission's standards for subject matter preparation. Completing an approved subject matter program that satisfies the standards enables a candidate to qualify for the single subject credential.
There are three different types of teacher preparation programs:
- "Blended" Programs
Some colleges and universities have programs that combine course work for the bachelors degree and credential. Designed for individuals who know, early on, that they want to teach, these options are generally more intense than traditional programs but enable you to become a teacher faster. Some community colleges have become part of the blended program package.
- Post-baccalaureate Programs
Many colleges and universities offer state-approved courses for college graduates. This "fifth year" approach involves two or three semesters of coursework and student teaching and sometimes includes a master's degree.
- Alternative Certification or Intern Programs
Once you have your bachelor's degree and have met subject matter competency requirements, you may choose to work while you learn how to teach through a district or university alternative certification program. These specially designed programs put you in the classroom as a teacher (under supervision) while you complete coursework on teaching theory and techniques.
Step Two: Think about all the factors impacting the decision
Selecting the right teacher preparation program for you is critical. Spend time in analyzing all the relevant information along with the cost and location of the program.
Type of Program Offered
- Consider this: Not all colleges and universities offer all the types of programs. Do you have experience teaching? Do you need to work while enrolled in a teacher preparation program?
- Tip: If you are a high school student and know you want to become a teacher, consider enrolling in a blended program.
If you need to make money while becoming a teacher, or you can handle the pressure of being a student and teaching at the same time, look into alternative/intern programs.
If you have no teaching experience, you might want to enroll in a traditional program (Post-baccalaureate programs).
- Consider this: Tuition and fees differ greatly, even for campuses within the same education system (California State University or University of California).
- Search: The U.S. Department of Education's College Affordability and Transparency Center for costs of the degree/academic program desired.
- Browse: Find the right college for you on this U.S. Department of Education funded Website,College Navigator. Search by name of college, state, program/major, level of award, and type of institution.
- Tip: Although the tuition for private colleges/universities is higher than state-supported universities, private colleges sometimes offer bigger scholarships that can offset the cost and offer the required courses on a faster schedule.
- Consider this: Many teacher preparation programs offer some of their courses online, potentially reducing the number of times you have to go to campus for class.
Time Classes Are Offered
- Consider this: Are you going to have to work while you take classes, or do you have family responsibilities that will limit the time you are available to attend class?
- Tip: Many teacher preparation programs offer some of their courses online or during the evening, which might make it easier for you to enroll in their program.
Length of Program
- Consider this: Blended programs start in the undergraduate years and extend beyond the traditional 4 years of coursework because they include student teaching. Other programs last 2-3 semesters.
- Tip: A shorter program will probably be less costly, but the pace of the courses will probably be a lot faster. Also, not all colleges and universities offer all the types of programs or all the time options for each type of program.
Step Three: Find the teacher preparation program best for you
The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is California's teacher licensing agency, and it maintains the most up-to-date list of teacher preparation programs.
There are three basic ways to search this CTC database:
- If you know the type of program in which you are interested, go to the pull-down menu at the top left of the page. Select the type of program in which you are interested.
- If you are more interested in looking at institutions within a particular system, select the system (CSU, UC, Private, Districts, Counties and other Entities) of the program in which you are interested.
- If you want to know what programs particular institutions offer, scroll through the list and select the specific college/university in which you are interested.
- Tip: At the top of each individual campus information, there is a link to Contact information which gives the campus street address and website, and contact information of administrators and staff involved with teacher preparation.
- Tip: If you would like to read the latest accreditation report or accreditation decision for the specific institution or college you are interested in, select the Accreditation Reports and Status from the upper-left hand corner of the screen.
VIDEO LINK: http://www.teachcalifornia.org/guide/index.html