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FAQs for English Learner Teacher Authorizations

Frequently asked questions about requirements for teaching English Learners.

Introduction

Authorization of Teachers to Provide Instruction to ELs

The Certificate of Completion of Staff Development (CCSD) / Crosscultural Language and Academic Development Authorization

Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) Definition and California teachers qualified to teach ELs

Introduction

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is the authorizing agency for teachers in California. The California Department of Education (CDE) administers and oversees state and federal programs, and regulations to support schools, including programs for ELs.

State and federal statutes, regulations, local policies, student population, grade level, the content of a course being taught, and the instructional approach all will determine what authorizations a teacher is required to possess. A teacher assigned to ELs will need an authorization for instruction to ELs in addition to authorization in the content area of instruction. The authorization is based on the rights and needs of the students to an appropriate education.

ELs require English language development (ELD) and specially designed academic instruction in English (SDAIE). In addition, EL students whose parents have applied for and been granted a waiver require primary language instruction (L1). These three services (ELD, SDAIE, and L1) must be provided by teachers authorized for such instruction until these students are reclassified as English proficient. Through monitoring reviews, the CDE specifically monitors teachers assigned to core academic subjects such as courses required for graduation and promotion. The CDE also monitors whether former EL students are succeeding in the regular program comparable to their English-speaking peers. The CTC monitors credential assignments, including subject matter, grade-level, special education, and EL authorization per the provisions in California Education Code (EC), Section 44258.9.

Program design, placement of students, and teacher hiring and retention practices are local decisions. Incentives and sanctions are at the discretion of the employer.

For a complete list of authorizations and the type of instruction to which they pertain, please refer to the CTC Administrator’s Assignment Manual External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

The CTC Web page: Teaching English Learners External link opens in new window or tab. provides comprehensive information for educators seeking authorization to provide instructional services to English learners.  Particular questions regarding earning a credential or credential requirements may be referred directly to CTC’s Information Services Section by e-mail at credentials@ctc.ca.gov. The CTC is the agency responsible for the issuance of credentials.

Teachers who currently possess a basic teacher authorization and are interested in training and examination leading to authorization for instruction to ELs may refer to the CTC's Serving English Learners Web page External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

Authorization of Teachers to Provide Instruction to ELs

Where in California state law is the requirement that teachers need to attain authorization to provide instruction to ELs?

The California EC requires individuals to hold the appropriate authorization prior to providing instructional services, including specified EL services. The pertinent statutes include: EC Section 44001, EC Section 44830(a), EC Section 44831, and particularly EC Section 44253.1, which reads:

. . . For these pupils to have access to quality education, their special needs must be met by teachers who have essential skills and knowledge related to English language development, specially designed content instruction delivered in English, and content instruction delivered in the pupils’ primary languages . . .

The CTC is responsible for establishing the teacher authorization process by which teachers are certified as having specified knowledge, skills, and abilities for providing instruction to ELs.

Are all teachers kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12) with one or more EL students in their classrooms required to be EL certified?

Yes. Any teachers assigned to provide ELD, SDAIE, or L1 to EL students, must hold the appropriate credential or certificate. ELs identified in K-12 public schools in California are required to receive services designed to meet their linguistic and academic needs based on assessments made by the LEA. The state laws do not specify exemptions for a small or particular number of ELs in a class.

In the joint correspondence from the CTC and the CDE following the settlement of Williams, et al., v. State of California, et al., the following statement is made:

"There is no numerical trigger and no percentage of students needing particular English learner services that determines a misassignment. If one or more of the students in the class needs English learner services or requires instruction in a subject area, the teacher providing the English learner services must hold an appropriate English learner credential or authorization."

You may find the entire letter by following this link: Joint Correspondence from O'Connell and Swofford (PDF).

What is the timeline for certificated staff to attain EL Authorization?

Certification is required on the date when a teacher is assigned to provide instructional services to an EL student or sooner if it is required by the employer.

I do not have any ELs in my classroom and my district says that I need an EL authorization. Can the district require EL authorization for all teachers?

Yes. The employer is responsible for determining how EL services will be provided and for appropriate assignment of staff to meet the needs of their students. In all cases, the district has the obligation to assure that teachers providing instructional services to ELs are appropriately authorized.

With this obligation, some local school boards have created policies requiring that all teachers attain such authorization. Program design, placement of students, and teacher hiring and retention practices are local decisions. Incentives and sanctions are at the discretion of the district.

If a district is requesting that their teachers hold an EL authorization even though they are not providing any EL services, they may do so as an employment requirement for the position. If the requirement is for employment and not for appropriate authorization, the CTC does not have purview in the issue.

Are any teachers providing instruction to ELs exempt from this certification?

No. The state laws do not specify exemptions for a subject area or particular number of ELs in a class. This requirement includes areas such as special education and vocational education. However, there are a few situations where this authorization may not apply.

I am a credentialed teacher with tenure and I need EL authorization. What are my options and where do I start?

There are a few paths to authorization for credentialed teachers to provide instruction in ELD, SDAIE, or L1, or any combinations of these approaches. The Crosscultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) authorization is available to all teachers regardless of their years of tenure. For information about the requirements for the CLAD Certificate through coursework or the California Teachers of English Learners (CTEL) Examination,see the CLAD Certificate leaflet External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

Senate Bill 395 (Hughes, 1999) established eligibility criteria for California veteran teachers to participate in a staff development program to receive a Certificate of Completion of Staff Development (CCSD) as an alternate pathway to EL authorization. The eligibility criteria for this CCSD are specified in EC Section 44253.10. The CCSD authorizes a veteran teacher to provide specially designed instruction in English to ELs. On July 8, 2004, Assembly Bill 2913 extended the January 1, 2005 deadline for the completion of this staff development program to January 1, 2008.  For information, see the CCSD page External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

The CCSD is no longer available to teachers unless they meet eligibility requirements clarified in Senate Bill 1292 (Chapter 752, Statutes of 2006) for Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers and for holders of service credentials with a special class authorization.

You will have to decide which pathway best fits your eligibility and needs. For assistance, contact the BTTP in your area. For information on BTTP and a list of BTTP sites, go to the BTTP link on the CDE's English Learners Web page.

I recently moved to California and have a Masters Degree in Bilingual Education from out of state. My district is requiring that I get a CLAD, but it seems that my Masters should demonstrate that I meet the qualifications. What do I need to do?

California, unlike many states has two state educational agencies which provide guidance and implement legislation. The CTC is the authorizing agency for teachers in California. The CDE administers and oversees state and federal programs, and regulations to support schools, including programs for ELs.

The CTC has provisions for comparability of credentials from some states. Although it does not extend to a bilingual authorization, it does, on a limited basis, apply to the authorization to serve ELs. The individual will need to earn a California credential in one of the available subjects. For questions and guidance regarding comparability of your out of state education and experience toward California authorization for teachers of ELs, please refer to the CTC Web site External link opens in new window or tab. or e-mail credentials staff at credentials@ctc.ca.gov.

Certificate/Crosscultural Language and Academic Development Authorization

For complete CLAD certificate requirements, refer to CTC's CLAD Certificate leaflet External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

I know coursework is available through colleges and universities, but is there an online option for completing requirements for CLAD authorization?

The CTC Web page, Teaching English Learners External link opens in new window or tab. also offers a list of Commission approved professional preparation programs.  Some of the programs listed offer the program through online options.

Where can I find information on the examination for CLAD authorization?

The CLAD exam has been replaced by a new CTEL exam. You can access information about the CTEL exam on the National Evaluation Systems Web site External link opens in new window or tab. .

For information on former and current examinations, scores and score validity, refer to the Teaching English Learners External link opens in new window or tab. page on the CTC Web site.

How can I get additional information or training to prepare for the CLAD examination?

If you have any questions about earning a credential or credential requirements, you may correspond with CTC's Information Services Section by e-mail at credentials@ctc.ca.gov. This agency is responsible for the issuance of credentials.

I completed a 45 hour program of professional development and assessment and received a Certificate of Completion of Staff Development (CCSD). Is this equivalent to the CLAD?

No. The CCSD does not authorize ELD in a departmentalized setting at elementary, middle, or high school, including middle or high school ELD courses, or instruction where students are pulled out of a self-contained classroom at the elementary level and grouped for ELD.

May a teacher with a CCSD provide instruction in a classroom composed of only ELs?

Yes, a CCSD holder may provide instruction authorized by their basic credential  to ELs regardless of the number of ELs in their classroom, they may not provide ELD in a departmentalized setting as clarified in the previous answer.

HQT Definition and California teachers qualified to teach ELs

We are defining which teachers must be certified to teach ELs. Should we use the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) definition of core curriculum or is there a different list that CDE is using?

NCLB identifies the following core academic subjects for which teachers assigned to these courses must be "highly qualified": middle/high level English, reading/language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics/government, economics, arts, history, and geography; elementary level reading, writing, mathematics, and other core areas of the elementary school curriculum.

In addition, teachers must meet state authorization requirements and hold the appropriate credential or authorization in the content subject area of instruction. The state requires teachers who are assigned to provide instruction to ELs to have the appropriate authorization for the EL services that they provide. If they are assigned to provide primary language instruction, they should have a Bilingual Crosscultural Language and Academic Development (BCLAD) authorization. If they provide ELD or SDAIE, they should have a CLAD authorization or equivalent. The possession of a BCLAD authorization is a state requirement, not an HQT requirement.

What do middle school and high school ELD teachers need to become an NCLB highly qualified teacher? ELD is not listed as a content area in the highly qualified teacher requirement.

ELD is not one of the federally identified core content areas that require a "highly qualified teacher"; however, in some cases (see the following questions), they will need to be highly qualified for English content courses. In all cases, they must hold the appropriate credential or authorization in the content area of instruction and also be authorized by the CTC to provide departmentalized ELD (see the first question in Certificate/Crosscultural Language and Academic Development Authorization section of this document regarding authorization for departmentalized ELD).

I have teachers that are teaching ELD classes that do not have English Credentials or majors. They have been assigned based on the BCLAD/CLAD authorization. Do ELD teachers need to be NCLB compliant since ELD is not a specific core academic subject as listed in the federal law?

NCLB applies to all "core" academic subjects as described in federal law. A decision needs to be made to determine if ELD receives English credit. We can assume it is an NCLB core academic subject area if they receive English credit and not ELD or elective credit.

If it is core, teachers will need a Subject Matter Competency/Authorization which would be an equivalent of 32 units. Teachers with more than five years can fulfill the NCLB requirement by using High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation. They can fulfill the requirement through experience, coursework, and professional development. Additional information can be found on our Improving Teacher Quality Web page.

Questions:   Language Policy and Leadership Office | 916-319-0845
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