Bus Driver Instructor Selection Guidelines
- Information Sheet
- Performance Review Procedures
- Sample Written Test
- Sample Written Test Questions
- Sample Interview Questions
- Fact Sheet
Define the state-certified instructor position in terms of the state requirements and carrier responsibilities and expectations. Typically, this job should be an entry-level management position. If successful, a person should advance to a higher-level management position within the organization in time. Therefore, carefully consider the applicant for this position; think of this position as one level on the organization's management ladder.
The minimum qualifications for a state-certified bus driver instructor are listed below:
- Possession of a commercial driver license, Class A or B, with appropriate endorsements valid for driving vehicles for which the instructor rating is sought, and a current medical examiner's certificate.
- Possession of a California Special Driver Certificate of the appropriate type, valid for driving vehicles for which the instructor rating is sought, and current first aid certification.
- Five years of driving experience as a bus driver in the type of operation in which the instructor will be employed.
- Two years of driving experience as a bus driver in the type of operation in which the instructor will be employed and three years of experience operating vehicles requiring a Class A or B commercial driver license.
- Two years of driving experience as a bus driver of the appropriate class in the type of operation in which the instructor will be employed and one year as an authorized delegated behind-the-wheel trainer of the appropriate class.
- Possession of a high school diploma, general educational development (GED), or other proof of equivalent level of education.
- A driving record with no chargeable accidents in any vehicle within three years preceding the application date for an instructor certificate.
The desirable qualifications for a state-certified bus driver instructor include the items listed below:
- The desire to teach
- Professional appearance and demeanor
- Professional and positive attitude
- Good personal hygiene
- Good communication skills (both verbal and nonverbal)
- Good writing and spelling skills
- Good reading and reading comprehension skills
- Good bus driving skills
- Public speaking experience
- Good listening ability
- Principles, concepts, and techniques of driving, inspecting, and managing passengers on vehicles of the appropriate type and size
- California Vehicle Code; California Education Code; California Code of Regulations, Title 5 and Title 13 sections related to transportation
- All motor-carrier policies relating to the operation and transportation of passengers
- Provide quality behind-the-wheel training in vehicles of the appropriate type and size
- Demonstrate proper instructional methods, and provide quality classroom instruction
- Read, interpret, and explain laws, regulations, and policies pertaining to transportation
- Communicate effectively and make appropriate decisions
- Under the direction of the director, effectively organizes work responsibilities and manages time efficiently.
- Responds to verbal and written requests for assistance regarding transportation issues. Refers appropriate questions to the director or other administrators when necessary.
- Completes all assignments within the agreed-upon time frame.
- Adheres to department or company attendance and leave policy.
- Interacts with the department or company staff, representatives of other organizations and agencies, and the general public in the course of his or her duties in a pleasant and positive manner.
- Works with the department director to improve work habits and job productivity.
- Practices proper safety habits and care in the use of district or company equipment and facilities.
- Follows policies and procedures established by the district or company and state laws and regulations governing employees.
- Maintains a valid Class A or B commercial driver license, unrestricted California Special Driver Certificate, medical certificate, first aid card, or equivalent certification at all times.
- Properly demonstrates all classroom and behind-the-wheel teaching methods, techniques, driving skills, and recordkeeping requirements necessary to maintain a state-certified bus driver instructor certificate of the appropriate class.
Job Element 1
Coordinate and evaluate the classroom and behind-the-wheel driver training program.
- Oversee the development and maintenance of an effective and efficient classroom and behind-the-wheel driver training program.
- Maintain an accurate and effective recordkeeping system for the transportation department and make appropriate recommendations for improvement.
- Maintain required reports and records of drivers and delegated behind-the-wheel trainers within the district or company.
Job Element 2
Conduct driving performance evaluations on drivers and delegated behind-the-wheel trainers and maintain performance records.
- Evaluate delegated behind-the-wheel trainers' teaching capabilities in behind-the-wheel instruction.
- Conduct driver evaluations and maintain driver proficiency records.
- Maintain performance records on all delegated behind-the-wheel trainers.
Job Element 3
Consult with the area California Highway Patrol (CHP) school bus officer or coordinator regarding a driver applicant's testing results and evaluation of bus drivers' accident records.
- Meet with local representatives of the CHP to discuss and review driver standards and records, and accidents involving the district or company.
Job Element 4
Investigate all vehicle and pedestrian accidents involving district or company equipment or personnel.
- Prepare an internal accident report on each accident or incident involving district or company equipment, staff, students, or pedestrians.
Job Element 5
Train and evaluate applicants requesting driver certification for the district or company.
- Train, test, and evaluate applicants who have been selected to become drivers for the district or company.
- Drive a bus on district or company routes as necessary.
Job Element 6
Train and evaluate applicants requesting approval as a delegated behind-the-wheel trainer.
- Train, test, and evaluate applicants who have been selected to become delegated behind-the-wheel trainers for the district or company.
Job Element 7
Maintain required records and written reports.
- Complete weekly work plans, driver performance reviews, delegated behind-the-wheel trainer written assessment tests, monthly activity reports, and training session attendance records.
Job Element 8
Participate with local instructor groups to exchange information related to passenger transportation safety and training.
- Meet with local groups to exchange information and to receive updates from state and local agencies.
- Participate in instructor inservice training sessions on accident data and seek new approaches to training bus drivers.
Job Element 9
Maintain updated driver training manuals and materials related to passenger transportation.
- Research, develop, and test new approaches for bus driver training for both classroom and behind-the-wheel.
- Maintain current and up-to-date training manuals.
Suggestions of Job Duties:
- Coordinate and evaluate the district's or company's classroom and behind-the-wheel driver training program.
- Conduct driving performance evaluations on drivers and delegated behind-the-wheel trainers and maintain performance records.
- Consult with the area CHP school bus officer or coordinator regarding driver applicant's testing results and evaluation of bus driver accident records.
- Investigate all vehicle and pedestrian accidents involving district or company equipment or personnel.
- Train and evaluate applicants requesting driver certification for the district or company and drive a bus as necessary.
- Train and evaluate applicants requesting approval as a delegated behind-the-wheel trainer.
- Maintain required records and reports.
- Participate with local instructor groups to exchange information related to passenger transportation safety and training.
- Maintain updated driver training manuals and materials related to passenger transportation.
- Posted the California Department of Education (CDE) requirements on bulletin board.
- Identified qualified applicants.
- Gave appropriate driving and written tests. Referred to the latest edition of the CDE Instructor's Behind-the-Wheel Training Guide for California's Bus Driver's Training Course.
- Selected the interview panel:
- Director of department or general manager
- Driver trainer
- Personnel representative
- Applicant was trained on the CDE Instructor's Behind-the-Wheel Training Guide for California's Bus Driver's Training Course to obtain proficiency in all sections of the guide.
- Applicant taught under the supervision of the driver trainer. Applicant should conduct defensive driving and advanced defensive driving in safety meetings or other inservice sessions only.
- Applicant was given a driving test on all skills required by the CDE (driving and teaching).
- Test results were forwarded to the CDE.
- A CDE representative tested the applicant.
The California Department of Education, in cooperation with the Governor's Office of Traffic Safety, has developed the Bus Driver Instructor Certification Course. This program provides the training and certification of those persons who have the responsibility of training bus drivers as mandated by California Education Code, Section 40080. The course is offered to public and private schools, school bus contractors, public transit, charter party, and common carriers that are engaged in the transportation of school students.
Office of School Transportation
825 Riverside Parkway, Suite 110
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Length of the Course
The length of the course is three weeks, eight hours per day, five days a week, plus several evening sessions, with weekends off. Graduation is on Friday morning of the third week, and the class will end at noon that day.
The California Department of Education's Office of School Transportation will require an application fee of $35 and a training fee of $4,500 for CA school districts with total enrollment of more than 2,500 pupils; $3,000 for small school districts with total enrollment of 2,500 pupils or less; and $5,400 for private schools and contractors. These fees are payable by check or money order made out to the California Department of Education. Before submitting any application, carriers are encouraged to carefully select qualified individuals that have the necessary driving skills, the enthusiasm to teach, and the ability to communicate with other drivers while meeting all of the minimum qualifications set forth in Education Code. Travel, lodging, and meals are not provided by the Department.
- Five years of experience as a driver in the appropriate vehicle category or two years of that driving experience and three years equivalent experience driving vehicles that require a class A or B driver license or two years of that driving experience and one year as an approved delegated behind-the-wheel trainer of the appropriate class.
- A valid driver license and endorsement(s) valid for driving the vehicles for which the driver instructor rating is sought.
- A California Special Driver Certificate and endorsement(s) valid for driving the vehicles for which the driver instructor rating is sought.
- A high school diploma, general educational development (GED), or other proof of equivalent level of education.
- A driving record with no chargeable accidents within the three years preceding the date of application for the instructor certificate.
Employers should select a qualified person who has the desire, ability, and attitude to become an effective instructor. The person selected should have the following qualities: posseses the ability to read, write, and speak English at a level necessary to perform the job of an instructor; works well with fellow employees; possesses a broad range of knowledge regarding vehicles, equipment, laws, and regulations; is skilled as a bus driver; and is motivated to improve passenger safety.
State-Certified Instructor Performance Verification
Performance verification by a state-certified instructor is required before the assessment of the applicant is conducted by Department staff. Verification establishes the applicant's competency in pre-trip inspection, including proper brake system testing, backing and turning comprehension, and proper transmission use. Verification of the applicant's ability to read and comprehend laws and regulations is also required.
Before acceptance in the training program, the applicant will be interviewed by telephone and, if applicable, given a written and a driving performance test. The applicant will be required to read and discuss the driving skills outlined in the Department's Instructor's Behind-the Wheel Guide for California's Bus Driver's Training Course. Assessment tests will be conducted by representatives of the Department's Office of School Transportation. Failure to successfully complete all tests after the third attempt will disqualify the applicant for at least 12 months from the date the applicant failed to qualify.
Certified Instructor Performance
After successful completion of the Bus Driver Instructor Training Course, instructors are expected to provide effective training sessions for their employer and to assist other transportation organizations in conducting training programs.
All applicants must be sponsored by their primary employer. Please have the employer sign and date the application as required. Before being assigned to a class, the applicant's completed application, performance review, and all required documents must be submitted to and approved by the Office of School Transportation. Applicants will then be contacted by a staff member from the Office of School Transportation to arrange for the appropriate assessment tests. Only after all entry requirements and assessment tests are satisfactorily completed will an applicant be assigned to a class.
- To determine an applicant's proficiency in classroom teaching skills, public speaking skills, reading, and comprehension of laws and regulations related to passenger transportation.
- To determine an applicant's driving proficiency relative to the correct vehicle turning, backing, shifting, inspection, brake system, and passenger loading and unloading procedures.
- To ensure that the applicant can both understand and demonstrate the skills necessary to become an effective state-certified bus driver instructor.
- General Information
The applicant must understand and display a level of competency from the curriculum contained in the Instructor's Manual for California's Bus Driver's Training Course, and demonstrate the techniques and theories contained in the Instructor's Behind-the-Wheel Guide for California's Bus Driver's Training Course.
Review the top section of the following Performance Review and complete the appropriate sections.
- Have the applicant read and explain several sections from the Instructor's Manual for California's Bus Driver's Training Course to determine the applicant's classroom teaching skills, public speaking skills, and ability to read and comprehend laws and regulations related to passenger transportation.
- Complete the Classroom section of the following Performance Review.
- Instructor's Behind-the-Wheel Guide for California's Bus
Driver's Training Course Operation and Instruction
- Complete the Vehicle Information section of the following Performance Review below.
- The applicant must be evaluated in a vehicle of the same size, weight, and type for which the instructor rating is sought.
- Have the applicant demonstrate their driving proficiency
and explain the correct procedure(s) for the following tasks:
- Vehicle Inspection
- Brake Systems and Inspection
- Vehicle Backing
- Proper mirror use
- Straight line backing
- Backing line crossover
- Vehicle Turning
- Turning zone
- Vehicle alignment
- Problem object
- Ground reference/imaginary line
- Correct turning point
- Turning range
- Vehicle Clutch Use (if applicable)
- Double clutching
- Vehicle Transmission Use
- Setup procedures for establishing exact shift points
- Up shifting
- Downshifting (skipping one or more gears)
- Midrange shifting
- Shift points for a two speed rear axle (if applicable)
- Automatic transmission use (if applicable)
- Passenger Loading and Unloading Procedures
- Mirror use
- Danger zone
- Vehicle Code Section 22112
- Vehicle Roll Back and Forward Roll Prevention
- Applicant Competency Verification
All applicants must satisfactorily demonstrate their reading, comprehension, communication, and driving skills to the state-certified instructor signing the following Performance Review. Signature of the following Performance Review must be made by a state-certified instructor of the appropriate class. An instructor's signature verifies that the applicant has met all the requirements of and has demonstrated proficiency and knowledge in all subjects required in Education Code sections 40080 through 40090, as applicable.
(Essay questions test job knowledge and writing skills.)
- What qualifies you for this position?
(The interviewer should look for the following type of response: applicants should give education and specialized training as examples of preparation for this position.)
- What determines proficiency?
(The interviewer should look for the following answers: being proficient means having had the proper training in different sizes, design [such as transit vs. conventional], equipment [such as wheelchair lifts, tie downs, emergency exits], gauges and controls, and so on before being allowed to transport students on any highway unsupervised.)
- Name the required number of mirrors and describe the
purpose of each mirror (modify answers for transit bus, school
pupil activity bus [SPAB], and farm labor vehicle).
(The interviewer should look for the following answers: The law requires each school bus have four mirrors. The mirrors are right outside flat, left outside flat, inside overhead flat, and crossover. The purpose of each mirror is as follows: The right outside flat mirror is designed to monitor the right side of the bus and the traffic to the right side. It is also used to monitor approaching passengers during the loading and unloading processes. The left outside flat mirror is designed to monitor the left side of the bus and the traffic in the left lanes. The inside overhead flat mirror is designed for monitoring the passenger compartment, as an aid in student control, and monitoring both sides of the bus outside and traffic. The crossover mirror is designed for monitoring the front area of the bus, when approaching and during the loading and unloading processes. Each mirror is equally valuable and the use of mirrors is a must in the performance of proper defensive driving techniques.)
(Prepare 30 to 40 questions for this test.)
Note: Test must be modified for each transportation discipline.
- How many units of classroom instruction are required for an original (transit bus, SPAB, school bus, or farm labor vehicle) driver applicant?
- What are the skill levels in the California Department of Education Instructor's Behind-the-Wheel Training Guide for California's Bus Driver's Training Course?
- What determines driver proficiency?
- Name the required number of mirrors and describe the purpose of each mirror?
- What do you think the qualifications for this position should be?
- Describe what you consider to be the most important part of the state-certified instructor's duties.
- As a state-certified instructor, do you feel you can
support management and maintain the confidentiality of information
you will be in possession of from time to time? What possible
problems can you foresee in this position?
(The interviewer should look for indications of the applicant's ability to separate themself from the other drivers when carrying out the duties of a state-certified instructor and their ability to support management.)
- What if you completed a check ride with a fellow employee
who also happened to be a close personal friend, and during
the check ride you discovered a problem in their driving,
and when you discuss the problem with the driver they ask
you to keep it between friends and not make mention of it or
write it on the evaluation form. How would you handle this situation?
(Again, the interviewer should look for the applicant's ability to separate personal from business.)
- What are some of the principles of defensive driving?
(The interviewer should look for the following answers: Drive with an adequate margin of safety; use the mirrors; identify accident-producing situations early enough to react and prevent a collision; get the big picture; reach the destination safely despite the bad driving habits of others or adverse road, weather, and traffic conditions.)
- Do you believe a state-certified instructor should
know about and understand bus roadeo events?
(The interviewer should look for the following answers: Roadeo events require the use of good driving skills and techniques and enable you to assist and coach fellow drivers in preparation for a roadeo.)
- What is the importance of keeping accurate training
(The interviewer should look for the following answers: It is the legal requirement for an instructor. Keeping accurate training records also helps to track proficiency and proof of meeting the driver's legal requirements in the original training and renewal training years. Accurate records are a must if ever an accident occurs; such records prove the legality and proficiency of the driver.)
- Explain how to determine a shift point when driving
a bus that has a standard transmission.
(The interviewer should look for the following answers: first determine what is the top tachometer for the bus you are in. Roll the tachometer to the top tachometer point [revolutions per minute or RPM], noting the road speed [miles per hour or MPH]. Shift to the next highest gear and re-establish the previously noted road speed, noting the RPM. Doing this will tell you what the shift point is. Do this for each gear.)
- Explain the purpose of double-clutching.
(The interviewer should look for the following answers: The purpose of double-clutching is to be able to use the proper throttle-control method of shifting. Double-clutching allows you to bring the transmission into a neutral phase so that you can adjust the RPM to allow you to match the MPH for shifting into the proper gear. Double-clutching enables you to shift without grinding gears and allows you to be in control of the vehicle at all times.)
- Why should we select you to be a state-certified instructor?
(The interviewer should look for the applicant using this opportunity to point out his or her strong points in pupil transportation.)
What You Need to Know
After acceptance into the Bus Driver Instructor Certification Course at the Office of School Transportation's training facility in West Sacramento, there are some challenges that you may face during your three weeks of training.
Some of the challenges you may face during your participation are:
Heat - in the summer months (June through August) Sacramento's temperature can reach 115 degrees. Be prepared with appropriate clothing, shoes, and keeping yourself hydrated.
Rain - in the winter months (January through March) Sacramento's temperature can be as low as 29 degrees. Be prepared with appropriate clothing, shoes, and keeping yourself warm.
Attending the Class
Your objective the first week is to listen and observe instruction being given to you, the student. If any of the information is confusing, ask for clarification. The second week is an opportunity for you, the student, to now teach from the instructor's manual and the behind-the-wheel guide. Documentation is ongoing throughout the three week training program.
There will be late nights studying, not only at the training facility but also at your lodging facility. Weekends may also be used for studying.
The days of attendance are Sunday of the first week and Monday through Friday with varying hours. Graduation is held promptly at 11 a.m. on the final Friday, and students are released by noon.
Standing - you will be required to stand in the step-well of a bus and instruct from the Behind-the-Wheel Guide. You will also be standing while teaching a lesson you have prepared.
Sitting - you will be sitting for long periods of time, listening to lectures and presentations from the staff and other students in the program.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the above requirements or the necessary abilities to participate in the Instructor Certification Course, please contact the Office of School Transportation at 916-375-7100.