As a result of new policies adopted by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) in late April, students who are currently learning English will soon have teachers-in-training with substantially improved preparation and support, and parents will be better informed about teachers’ level of training. English learner students comprise 1.4 million of the state’s public school students, or approximately 1 in 4 students.
For more than a decade, the CCTC had granted an unqualified “English learner authorization” to intern teachers-in-training—even when they had had little to no specialized training in teaching English learners. Yet 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.
“Research tells us that English learners do better when their teachers have specialized training in how second language acquisition works and how to convey complex academic content in ways that emerging English learners can understand,” noted Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, Executive Director of Californians Together.
Diverse Stakeholders Weigh In
As we wrote in our April 15 blog, in response to the threat of a lawsuit from Public Advocates, the CCTC at its March meeting directed staff to consult with stakeholders and present recommendations for increasing training for teacher interns by:
- Giving interns more EL training earlier in their internships;
- Instituting stronger mentoring and supervision of interns teaching ELs; and
- Accurately conveying interns’ level of training.
- Require more robust supervision and mentoring/support for interns(including supervision in teaching ELs), with an explicit requirement for the types and level of supervision to be provided by the internship program and employer. For the first time, commission policy now specifies the number of hours of supervision/support that interns must receive from expert teachers (144 hours annually, or 16/month), with an additional 45 hours in EL-specific supervision (5 hours/month) if the intern does not hold a prior EL authorization.
- Require greater specificity regarding the preparation to teach ELs that interns must receive during preservice, before they take over as teacher of record. The commission’s policy now identifies specific standards in teaching ELs that must be covered during preservice training, and a panel of experts will work over the coming months to flesh this out even further and determine whether additional preservice training time is required to meet these new standards.
- Make the English learner authorization that interns receive conditionalon meeting these two requirements for EL preservice and increased supervision.
- Report in a more transparent manner at the state and local levels where students are being taught by teachers who are still in training, including still in training with respect to teaching ELs.
- EdSource: “State Toughens Regs for Interns Teaching English Learners.”
- Cloaking Inequity: “V for Victory: Teach for America, ELLs, and California.”
- Ed Week: “TFA Faces a California Showdown Over Qualifications to Teach English Learners”
- EdSource: “Higher Standards Coming for State’s Intern Teachers.”
- Los Angeles Times: “Stricter State Controls Placed on Teaching Interns.”
- Education Week: “California Panel to Raise Intern Teacher Standards.”
- SIA Cabinet Report: “Interns Lose Status as Authorized English Language Instructors.”
- Managing attorney John Affeldt’s letter to the “Los Angeles Times.”