Education Specialist Instruction Credential
Requirements for Teachers Prepared in California for the Preliminary and Clear Credentials


The Commission issues a two-level special education teaching credential. Regulations approved in 2010 established two new levels for candidates completing the program standards approved in 2008 and 2009. The new levels will be ‘preliminary’ and ‘clear’. A Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential is the first document issued after an individual has met basic credential requirements. The
Clear credential is issued once all credential requirements have been completed.

Authorization (see Terms and Definitions)

The Education Specialist Instruction Credential authorizes the holder to conduct Educational Assessments related to student’s access to the academic core curriculum and progress towards meeting instructional academic goals, provide instruction, and Special Education Support to individuals in the area of specialization listed on the credential in the following settings:

  • Resource rooms or services
  • Special education settings
  • General education settings
  • Special schools
  • Home/hospital settings
  • State hospitals
  • Development centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Non-public, non-sectarian schools and agencies
  • Alternative and non-traditional instructional public school settings other than classroom

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) content is included in the new preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Teaching Credential programs for all specialty areas. The preliminary and clear credential authorizes the holder to provide autism instructional services to students within the specialty area(s) of their credential.

Teaching English Learners

The Education Specialist Preliminary Teacher Preparation Program includes content for teaching English learners that authorizes the credential holder to provide instruction for English language development and specially designed academic instruction in English within the subject area and
grade level authorization of the Education Specialist Instruction Teaching Credential.

Specialty Areas

  • Mild to Moderate Support Needs (MMSN)
    Includes specific learning disabilities; mild to moderate support needs; autism; emotional disturbance; intellectual disability; multiple disabilities; orthopedic impairment; other health impairment; specific learning disability; traumatic brain injury; and authorizes service in grades K–12, transitional kindergarten, and in classes organized primarily for adults through age 22.

  • Extensive Support Needs (ESN)
    Includes autism; deafblind; extensive support needs; intellectual disability; multiple disabilities; orthopedic impairment; other health impairment; emotional disturbance; traumatic brain injury, and authorizes service in grades K–12, transitional kindergarten, and in classes organized primarily for adults through age 22.

  • Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)
    Includes the mild to moderate support needs and extensive support needs listed above; authorizes service to children ages birth to kindergarten only.

  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH)
    Includes deafness; hearing impairment; deafblind; autism; and authorizes service to individuals ages birth through 22.

  • Visual Impairments (VI)
    Includes blindness; visual impairment; deaf-blindness; and authorizes service to individuals ages birth through 22.

An added authorization in Early Childhood Special Education is also available to individuals who hold a preliminary, Level I, professional clear, clear, Level II, or life special education teaching credential, and who complete a program though a Commission-approved program sponsor. The ECSE Added Authorization authorizes the holder to provide special education services in the areas of autism, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, traumatic brain injury, and multiple disabilities including developmental delay and a disabling medical condition for students ages birth to kindergarten as determined by the local level special education assessment.

Requirements for the Preliminary Credential

The Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential is valid for five years from the date of issuance. Applicants must satisfy all of the following requirements:

  1. Obtain a baccalaureate or higher degree from a regionally-accredited college or university.

  2. Satisfy the Basic Skills Requirement.

  3. One of the following requirements must be satisfied[1]:
    1. Provide verification of subject-matter competence by passing the appropriate subject matter examination(s) as specified in Verifying Subject-Matter Competence by Examination (Multiple Subject) leaflet CL-674M [pdf] or Verifying Subject-Matter Competence by Examination (Single Subject) leaflet CL-674S [pdf]. [2]
    2. Complete a Commission-approved subject-matter program of coursework or its equivalent and obtain certification of completion from the authorized person in the education department of a California college or university with an approved subject-matter program. [2]
    3. Successful completion of applicable coursework verified by a Commission-approved program of professional preparation. Coursework must be completed at a regionally-accredited college or university and addresses each of the domains of the applicable subject matter requirements adopted by the Commission.
    4. Complete a degree major from a regionally-accredited college or university in one of the statutory subjects available for a Single Subject Credential or in liberal studies.
    5. Successful completion through a combination of coursework and examination options that meet or exceed the domains of the subject matter requirements adopted by the Commission. Such mixing of options may only be done by candidates enrolled in a Commission-approved preparation program.

  4. Pass the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA). Prior to 7/1/2022, Education Code 44283.2 exempted all Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) candidates from the RICA requirement. However, Senate Bill 488 now requires that candidates who enroll in an ECSE preparation program on or after 7/1/2022 to pass RICA. For more information, please see PSA 22-13.

  5. Complete a course (two semester units or three quarter units) or pass an examination given by a regionally-accredited college or university in the provisions and principles of the U.S. Constitution.

  6. Complete a Commission-approved Education Specialist Credential program in an education specialist specialty area. Contact the institution for specific program requirements.
    1. Developing English Language Skills, including Reading, by completing comprehensive reading instruction that includes the following: the systematic study of phonemic awareness, phonics, and decoding; literature, language and comprehension; and diagnostic and early intervention techniques.
    2. Instruction in foundational and advanced computer technology that includes general and specialized skills in the use of computers and technology in educational settings.
    3. Instruction in Health Education, including, but not limited to, nutrition; the physiological and sociological effects of alcohol, narcotics, and drug abuse; the use of tobacco; and provide verification of training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that covers infant, child, and adult CPR skills that meets the standards established by the American Heart Association or Red Cross.
    4. Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) for Mild to Moderate and Extensive Support Needs candidates.

7.  Obtain a formal recommendation for the credential by the program sponsor.

Note [1]: Verification of subject-matter competence is not required for the area of Early Childhood Special Education, nor is it required of individuals who hold a valid California clear or life general education teaching credential based upon possession of a bachelor’s degree and completion of a professional teacher preparation program, including student teaching.

Note [2]: The last administration of the examinations in the Specialized Sciences was July 11, 2015. Applicants will have five years during which to use passing examination scores toward obtaining California certification. The last date to verify subject-matter equivalency by coursework for any of the Specialized Sciences was July 11, 2015. See Coded Correspondence 14-09.

Note: Any examination information provided in this leaflet is subject to change. Please see the testing agency’s website for the most current information.

Requirements for Clear Credential

Applicants must satisfy all of the following requirements:

  1. Completion of a Commission-approved Teacher Induction Program.

    The Induction program must identify and assign a mentor to each participating teacher within the first
    30 days of the participant’s enrollment in the program, matching the mentor and participating teacher
    according to credentials held, grade level and/or subject area, as appropriate to the participant’s

    An individual with both general education (multiple or single subject) and special education preliminary teaching credentials may complete one set of clear credential requirements through a Teacher Induction Program. The list of professional development options in the Individual Learning Plan (ILP) must address the candidate’s needs for both the general education and special education credentials.<

    An individual who earned the clear multiple or single subject credential by completing a general education Induction Program who subsequently earns a preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential (in any of the specialty areas) may be recommended for the clear Education Specialist Credential without being required to repeat an induction program.

Transition to the Clear Credential for holders of Level I Credentials

California prepared holders of the Level I Education Specialist Instruction Credential may obtain the Clear Education Specialist Instruction Credential through completion of a Commission-approved Teacher Induction Program. Please see the Teacher Induction FAQs found on the Commission’s web site for more information. (See Terms and Definitions).

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification

Individuals who earn National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification in the area of Exceptional Needs/Early Childhood through Young Adulthood after the issuance of their California Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential will be issued a Clear Credential. Individuals meeting this criteria must submit an application (form 41-4), full application processing fee and a photocopy of their National Board Certification directly to the Commission office.

Term and Definitions

Subject-Matter Competence
Candidates can meet the subject-matter competence requirement through one of the following options; passage of the appropriate examination(s), complete a Commission-approved subject matter program, complete applicable coursework as verified by a Commission-approved program of professional preparation, complete a degree major in one of the acceptable majors for the Multiple or Single Subject Credential or complete a combination of coursework and examination options that meet or exceed the domains of the subject matter requirements. 

This requirement is only for candidates earning the preliminary Education Specialist Teaching Credential and does not apply to those who obtained the Level I Education Specialist Teaching Credential.

Individual Learning Plan (ILP)
Based on the Preliminary Program Transition Plan, the ILP is a comprehensive document that must address the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP). The ILP provides the ‘road map’ for the streamlined induction experience for clear credential candidates and completion of the ILP based activities provides evidence in determining candidate competency for the clear credential recommendation.

The ILP must be completed by the special education teacher, the employing agency, and the program sponsor within the first 60 days of the teacher’s enrollment in the program to allow the teacher the maximum time to complete the clear credential requirements. If a preliminary program sponsor is no longer available or if the special education teacher transitions to a new program sponsor, the new partnering program sponsor must review and make appropriate changes to the ILP.

If an individual holds more than one general or special education credential that requires the completion of an induction program for renewal, the ILP that guides the teacher's advanced preparation shall be written to clear all general and special education preliminary credentials held as is applicable to the candidate’s assignment and induction participation.

Transition Plan
The preliminary education specialist preparation program will develop a Transition Plan for each candidate prior to the completion of the preliminary program that will assist the developers of the ILP. The Plan includes the individual's strengths and areas of need that can be addressed in the clear credential preparation program. The Plan facilitates the individual's transition from initial teacher preparation to a clear education specialist credential preparation program by building upon and providing opportunities for demonstration and application of the pedagogical knowledge and skills acquired in the preliminary credential preparation program.

Hard-of-Hearing or Hearing Loss Includes Unilateral or Bilateral, Whether Fluctuating, Conductive, Sensorineural, and/or Auditory Neuropathy
Hearing impairment or hearing loss, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness but may include problems involving the cochlea, the sensory organ of hearing.

Educational Assessment
Assessment of students in a comprehensive manner within the authorization of the teaching credential or added authorization using multiple sources of information and a variety of strategies that directly measure a student’s performance to meet goals in areas of grade-level academic curriculum and/or functional goals designed to meet the Individualized Education Program (IEP), Individualized Family Service Program (IFSP), and/or Individualized Transition Plan (ITP) goals and objectives regarding eligibility and services that directly result from the student’s disability according to state and federal accountability systems. The assessment process may include both formal and informal assessments to evaluate students' educational instruction needs and strengths for the purpose of making accommodations, modifications, and instructional decisions.

Special Education Support
Support includes participation in the IEP, Individualized Family Service Program, and/or Individualized Transition Plan process including planning and implementation of the student’s IEP, Individualized Family Service Program, and/or Individualized Transition Plan; providing consultative, collaborative, and coordinating specially designed instruction with students, parents, teachers, and other community and school personnel; planning, developing, and implementing instructional program plans relative to and within the authorization of the credential or added authorization. Special education support does not include providing language, speech and hearing therapy, orientation and mobility, or audiology services.

California Education Code, Sections 44225, 44251, 44257(a), 44265, 44282 and 44373; Title 5, California Code of Regulations, Section 80046.5 through 80048.8.1.

CL-808CA  July 2022
Updated January 02, 2024