Date: February 4, 2016 File: public-advocates-pocketfolder-press-revised.pdf Public Advocates Pocket Folder Press
In the struggle to get the best teachers into classrooms across California – especially in high-need schools in low-income neighborhoods — we’ve made considerable progress recently. How? We’re helping make sure teachers authorized to teach our state’s 1.4 million English language learners are actually prepared to do so.
The issue is this: For more than a decade, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) has granted an unqualified “English learner authorization” to intern teachers-in-training — even when they have had little to no specialized training in teaching English learners. Why does this matter? In the words of Commissioner Tine Sloan:
An authorization is a warrant that assures parents that their students are being served by people who have had specialized training for teaching English learners . . . We have a significant research base to support that when teachers do receive specific training in [teaching ELs], they are more effective in helping our students learn. So it’s important that we also understand that [an EL authorization is] not just as a hoop, but it is the knowledge and skills that we have the research to say makes a difference in student learning.
Importantly, both federal and state law—as clarified in the Williams v. California settlement—require that English learners be taught by teachers who possess the specialized training to teach them both academic content and a new language.
- Giving interns EL training earlier in their internships;
- Instituting stronger mentoring and supervision of interns teaching ELs; and
- Accurately conveying interns’ level of training.
Put another way, the CCTC made it clear that it intends to end its practice of issuing an unqualified English learner authorization to interns regardless of the actual level of EL training and supervision they might or might not receive. (View the public hearing, beginning at 3:05.)
The action we’re considering will not take away your intern teachers. It will not take away Teach for America. It will not take away alternative schools. All those people and institutions will still be there to teach your children. What this will do. . . we think is to help those teachers get the needed specialized training and support to work with your children. And it will ensure that you as parents know when your teachers have that training and support and when they don’t.
As a parent, I am outraged that my district hired a person that was not fully-prepared with the specialized knowledge and training to deliver instruction to any of the children in [my son’s] special day class, including the students learning English. And worse, did not communicate this to parents.