The California Education Code and Title 5 Regulations specify, in most cases, that applicants for a credential, certificate, or permit to serve in the public schools of California must verify basic skills proficiency before the credential, certificate, or permit will be issued. For Preliminary Teaching Credential candidates, the basic skills requirement must be met prior to serving as an intern. However, institutions may require the basic skills requirement prior to program enrollment. Contact the college or university education department for more information. The basic skills requirement may also be required as a condition of employment. Applicants should contact the school district where they are considering employment for more information.
Options for Meeting the Basic Skills Requirement
Individuals may satisfy the basic skills requirement by one of the following methods:
- Pass the CBEST
Individuals only need to pass The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) once; CBEST passing scores remain valid indefinitely for all credential and employment purposes. To pass the CBEST, one must obtain a minimum scaled score of 41 in each of the three sections—reading, writing, and mathematics. However, a score as low as 37 on an individual section is acceptable if the total scaled score is at least 123.
Any or all sections of the CBEST can be repeated as many times as necessary to obtain a passing score, but the full registration fee is charged for each test administration. For more information, see CTC-Exam website.
- Pass the CSET: Multiple Subjects Plus Writing Skills Examination
The California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET): Multiple Subjects examination has been modified, adding an assessment of basic writing skills. Passage of the CSET: Writing Skills examination (test #142) can be added to passage of the CSET: Multiple Subjects Examination (subtests #101, 214, & 103) to meet the basic skills requirement. Passing exam scores used to meet the basic skills requirement remain valid indefinitely. For more information, see CTC-Exam website.
- Pass the CSU Early Assessment Program or the CSU Placement Examinations
Passing scores on the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP) (English and Mathematics sections) or the CSU Placement Examinations (English Placement Test [EPT] and Entry Level Mathematics [ELM]) are sufficient to meet the basic skills requirement. See Coded Correspondence 09-03 for additional information. Passing exam scores remain valid indefinitely for the purpose of meeting the basic skills requirement. See Appendix Table 1 for passing scores.
- Achieve Qualifying Score on the SAT or ACT
Previously, individuals having earned a score of 500 or higher on the Critical Reading (previously Verbal) section of the SAT exam combined with a score of 550 or higher on the SAT Mathematics exam are determined to have met the basic skills requirement.
A restructuring of the SAT Suite of Assessments has adjusted the qualifying scores on the revised Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Mathematics examinations required to meet the basic skills requirement. The new scores listed have been deemed by the College Board as equivalent to the scores shown for the examinations as administered prior to this revision. See Appendix Tables 2-3.
An individual having earned a score of 22 or higher on the ACT English exam combined with a score of 23 or higher on the ACT Mathematics exam is determined to have met the basic skills requirement. See Appendix Table 4.
- College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations
As noted in Coded Correspondence 15-03, students who achieve a score of 3 or higher on the College Board AP English exam and AP Calculus or AP Statistics exam may also use these exam scores to meet the basic skills requirement. See Appendix Table 5 for how the scores may be applied.
- Pass a Basic Skills Examination from Another State
The Commission will accept basic skills examinations from other states. A photocopy of the score report or letter from the testing agency verifying passage of the examination must be submitted with the application packet. There is no recency requirement for the date the examination was passed. See the chart Out-of-State Basic Skills Exams Guide in the Appendix at the end of this leaflet for a listing of acceptable examinations from other states.
- Meet the Basic Skills Requirement by Coursework
Individuals may meet the requirement by providing official transcripts to a Commission-approved preparation program or submitted with their application packet to the Commission. The transcripts must show passage of courses in reading, writing, and mathematics as outlined below. Courses must have been taken at a regionally-accredited college or university for credit, passed with a grade of B or better, be degree applicable, and be at least 3 semester units or 4 quarter units. Qualifying coursework does not include professional development or continuing education units or in-service training or workshops. Qualifying coursework includes the following:
- For reading proficiency: a course in critical thinking, literature, philosophy, reading, rhetoric, or textual analysis.
- For writing proficiency: a course in composition, English, rhetoric, written communication, or writing.
- For mathematics proficiency: a course in algebra, geometry, mathematics, quantitative reasoning, or statistics.
A course that does not fall within the indicated areas may still qualify with additional letter of explanation. A letter from the registrar or relevant department chair of the college or university must state that a course passed by the applicant covered reading, writing, or mathematics at the same level as one of the listed courses. Such a letter could also attest that a single course sufficiently indicates proficiency in reading and writing combined.
Online recommendations from a Commission-approved preparation program must include Form 41-BSR, entitled Verification of Basic Skills Requirement when choosing the coursework option. Form 41-BSR is available on the Credential Information Guide (CIG). Form 41-BSR is not required if CBEST or CSET scores are being used to meet the requirement.
Individual and LEAs without a Commission-approved program may use Form CL-130, entitled Basic Skills Requirement Evaluation Worksheet.
- Meet the Basic Skills Requirement by Coursework and Exam
The Basic Skills Requirement can be met through a combination of applicable courses and qualifying exams. Both Commission-approved programs and the Commission can determine basic skills proficiency through this combination option. The qualifying coursework must meet the requirements as describe above in item number 7. The mixing-and-matching of relevant component or components from all exam options permitted under current law is acceptable with the exception of out-of-state basic skills exams. The Guidance Chart for Mixing BSR Options can be used when determining acceptable combinations.
Online recommendations from a Commission-approved program sponsor must include Form 41-BSR, entitled Verification of Basic Skills Requirement when choosing the mixing-and-matching option. Form 41-BSR is available on the Credential Information Guide (CIG). Form 41-BSR is not required if CBEST or CSET scores are being used to meet the requirement.
Submitting Scores to the Commission
Individuals filing applications directly to the Commission using the CSU, SAT/ACT, or AP exams to meet the basic skills requirement must submit original passing score reports with their application packet. Scores posted only on high school transcripts are not acceptable. Commission-approved program sponsors or local employing agencies may submit a photocopy of the score report as long as the program sponsor or agency has verified it actually received from the educator an original score report, not a scanned or PDF copy.
Obtaining Duplicate Score Reports For CSU Placement Tests (EAP, ELM, EPT)
Effective October 1, 2017, the English Placement Test (EPT) and Entry-Level Mathematics Exam (ELM) are discontinued. As of September 30, 2019, Educational Testing Systems (ETS) no longer provides these test results.
The testing agencies maintain files of test scores taken within the last few years online. Check the testing agency’s website for details if you completed one of these examinations recently. These agencies also maintain an archive of test results that date back for decades. For a fee, you can request a copy of your archived test scores for each of these examinations.
Archived SAT scores may be requested by mail or by telephone. Check the College Board website for the Archived Score Report Order Form or phone ordering directions and current duplicate report fees.
Information from the College Board on obtaining archived AP exam scores and the Archived AP Scores Request Form may be found on the College Board website.
Information on obtaining archived ACT scores online, by phone, or by mail may be found on the ThoughtCo website.
Applicants for the following documents are exempt from the basic skills requirement:
- Renewal, reissuance, or upgrading of existing non-emergency credentials, certificates, or permits unless it is specifically indicated as a renewal requirement on the document.
- An additional credential, certificate, or permit to teach when the applicant holds a nonemergency California teaching credential which required a bachelor’s degree.
- Credentials issued solely for teaching adults in apprenticeship programs.
- Designated Subjects Vocational Education, Career Technical Education, or Special Subjects Teaching Credentials for which a bachelor’s degree is not required.
- Certificates of Clearance.
- Activity Supervisor Clearance Certificates.
- Child Development Permits.
- Eminence Credentials.
- Health Services Credentials, unless the document also authorizes teaching.
- Candidates who are prelingually deaf. This includes all credential types that have basic skills as a requirement for those serving in state special schools or in special classes for pupils with hearing impairments. Prelingually deaf individuals who choose this option will be required to complete a job-related assessment. See the Guide for Verifying the Proficiency of Prelingually Deaf Credential Candidates found on the Commission’s website for complete details.
Applicants for the following documents may serve on a credential for one year pending the completion of the basic skills requirement:
- Exchange Credentials.
- One-Year Nonrenewable (OYNR) Credentials (some services and teaching credentials may be issued to applicants who have completed their professional training outside of California and who have met all of the requirements for an initial California credential except for completion of the basic skills requirement). Applicants for the OYNR credential must submit a completed application packet through a California school district or county office of education that includes written verification that they have offered employment to the credential applicant, and the applicant has passed a basic skills test developed by the district or county. (The district basic skills test does not replace the basic skills requirement.)
- Out-of-state prepared holders of the preliminary multiple subject, single subject, and education specialist credentials must complete the basic skills requirement during the first year of certification.
Note: Any examination information provided in this leaflet is subject to change. Please see the testing agency’s website for the most current information.
|CSU Placement Tests||Math||English|
Early Assessment Program (EAP)
(taken in Spring of 11th grade)
|"College Ready" or "Exempt"||"College Ready" or "Exempt"|
|Entry Level Match (ELM)||50||N/A|
|English Placement Test (EPT)||N/A||151|
|College Board SAT|
(taken after March 2016)
|Math||Evidence-Based Reading and Writing|
|College Board SAT|
(taken before March 2016)
|Math||Critical Reading (or Verbal)|
|College Board Advanced Placement Examinations|
Score of 3 or above on one of the following:
Score of 3 or above on one of the following:
Out-of-State Basic Skills Exams Guide
The Out-of-State Basic Skills Exams Chart provides a guide for examinations from other states that may be accepted for use toward meeting California's basic skills requirement. The Chart is only a guide and is subject to change.
California Education Code, Section 44252 and 44830