Education Specialist Credentials initially issued between 2010 and present may be issued with seven specialty area authorizations. Each specialty area is able to serve specific disability areas and grade/age ranges:

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Eight Added Authorizations are also available in specific disability areas. These include:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders*
  • Deaf-Blind
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Area
  • Adapted Physical Education
  • Resource Specialist

*All California prepared SPED teachers after 2013 have the autism auth. included in their credential authorizations.


Education Specialists serving in self-contained or departmentalized special education classrooms should have the appropriate authorization to serve the primary disability for each of the students in the class. However, not all special education teachers provide instruction in self-contained or departmentalized settings and Education Specialists are authorized to serve across the full continuum of program options which may include pushing into or pulling out of general education settings.  Though there is some flexibility allowed in configuring special education assignments, in all scenarios, the students’ needs must be met as specified in their Individual Education Program (IEP).

Least Restrictive Environment

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is the requirement in federal law that students with disabilities receive their education, to the maximum extent appropriate, with nondisabled peers and that special education students are not removed from regular classes unless, even with supplemental aids and services, education in regular classes cannot be achieved satisfactorily. In some scenarios, students are with a special education teacher for less than 50% of the day, and the rest of their time is spent in general education classrooms.  These arrangements are appropriate, and are intended to allow the student to be placed in the least restrictive learning environment.  In some of these cases, student needs are met by a resource specialist (RSP) teacher who may push into the general education classroom or pull-out the student for resource instructional services.   In other cases, students may be placed in general education classrooms without instruction from a special education teacher, but only need to be provided what is referred to as related services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy. Students whose IEP indicates only related services and no special education instruction would not also be placed in a self-contained or departmentalized special education class. However, those related services must be performed by an appropriately credentialed service provider.  

Low Incidence Disability Areas

Low incidence disability areas include Visual Impairment (VI), Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH), Orthopedic Impairment (OI).  Education Code §44265.5 provides that these disability areas be served by appropriately credentialed teachers. In many cases, itinerant special education teacher(s) are providing push-in and pull-out support and collaboration related to that particular area of disability in conjunction with the teacher of record.  The authorization areas VI, DHH, and PHI are not common so many of these teachers serve as itinerant teachers across many schools or districts. If a student with one of these disability areas is placed in a Mild/Moderate or Moderate/Severe classroom, an appropriate question would be: Who is the appropriately authorized teacher that is part of the team providing specialized academic instruction to this student?

Resource Specialist

Holders of a current Education Specialist Instruction Credential or the older RSP Certificate may provide resource instructional services on a push-in or pull-out basis to students enrolled in a general education classroom for 50% or more of their day across all disability areas and are not restricted to students in the disability area of their certificate or credential.  General, Standard, and Service Credential holders with special class authorizations would need to obtain a Resource Specialist Added Authorization or Emergency Resource Specialist Permit to perform the duties associated with this role. 

Options for Credentialed Educators

 Educators that already hold an existing Education Specialist Instruction Credential have several options to obtain new specialty area authorizations:  

Adding Authorizations in Special Education (AASE)

The Commission allows educators who hold a full Education Specialist Instruction Credential to obtain an added authorization in the eight specific specialty areas through a Commission-approved program.  Recommendations for the AASEs made by approved program sponsors must be submitted through the Commission’s online process.  Please refer to our list of Commission approved preparation programs.

Special Education Limited Assignment Permit (SELAP)

This permit allows educators who hold a full Education Specialist Instruction Credential to obtain an additional specialty area authorizations on their document while they pursue a permanent authorization.  No special education preparation program is required upon initial issuance.  A SELAP is an emergency permit that is valid for one year and may be reissued twice in any one specialty area. See CL-889 for document requirements. 

NOTE: SELAPs are not issued with added authorizations, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Educators needing to cover specific disability areas should apply for the full specialty authorization area that has the specific disability area embedded within it.  

Short-Term Waivers

Short-term waivers permit local approval when there is an immediate, unanticipated short-term staffing need. They may be issued one time only for any individual, and only for one class.  The waiver allows employers to assign teachers who hold a basic credential to teach outside of their credential authorization for one semester or less with the teachers’ consent. These waivers must be issued in accordance with California Code of Regulations, Title 5, §80123(a). The County Office of Education and the Commission must be notified of these waivers as part of the annual assignment monitoring process. The Commission may rescind the authority of an employing agency to grant a short-term waiver upon finding that the agency has intentionally violated any provisions of sections 80120 or 80123.

Options for Uncredentialed Individuals

Uncredentialed individuals can also obtain emergency permits which authorize their assignments:

Short-Term Staff Permit (STSP)

This permit allows an employing agency to fill an acute staffing need based on an unforeseen circumstance which requires an employer to fill a classroom immediately.  The STSP is available to educators who have not completed a teacher preparation program. These permits are available for one school year and may not be reissued. Additional information may be found in CL-858.  

Provisional Internship Permit (PIP)

These permits allow an employing agency to fill an immediate staffing need by hiring an individual who has not yet met the subject matter competence requirement needed to enter an intern program.  This document is only available at the request of an employing agency and may be reissued once if initially issued before October 1, 2013.  Information on obtaining this document can be found in CL-856

Variable Term Waivers

The Variable Term Waiver is a document issued for employers who meet the waiver criteria when a fully credentialed teacher is not available for the assignment and they do not qualify for another permit or credential.  Terms for the Waiver Criteria are set by the Commission and include specific requirements for designated high and low incidence credentialing areas including verification of recruitment efforts, evidence of qualifications to teach in the assignment and a commitment to meet the credentialing goals.  More information can be found in the Commission’s Waiver Requests Guidebook

Local Assignment Options

There are additional Education Code options available to employers.  These Local Assignment Options do not require the acquisition of a new Commission issued document or authorization, though educators may already need to hold a credential in order to be eligible for these options.  None of these options are available to waiver or emergency permit holders. 

California Code of Regulations, Title 5 §80020.1

Allows local employing agencies to assign select educators holding select previous iterations of Commission issued Education Specialist Credentials holders to serve students outside the age and grade level of their authorization. See the 2007 Administrator’s Assignment Manual and the statutory language from Title 5 Section 80020.1 for more information.  

Updated January 03, 2023