California has a two-tier credential structure. A five-year preliminary credential is the first document issued after an individual meets basic credential requirements. The Clear credential is issued once all credential requirements have been completed.

Note: Previously, individuals issued Level I Credentials would enter a Level II program for the 2nd tier credential, which is continuously renewable. Dates were established in regulations when the move was made to the new preliminary and clear teaching credential programs that would allow time for candidates to finish those Level II programs. The last date to enroll in a Level II program was December 31, 2014. The last date to complete a Level II program was January 31, 2019.

The Education Specialist Instruction Credential authorizes the holder to teach 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

Areas of Specialization

  • Mild to Moderate Support Needs (MMSN)
    Authorizes the holder to conduct Educational Assessments related to students’ access to the academic curriculum and progress towards meeting instructional goals, provide instruction, and Special Education Support to students with mild to moderate support needs related to one or more of the following disabilities: autism, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, and traumatic brain injury; in kindergarten, including transitional kindergarten, grades 1-12 through age 22, and classes organized primarily for adults in services across the continuum of program options available.
  • Extensive Support Needs (ESN)
    Authorizes the holder to conduct Educational Assessments related to students’ access to the academic curriculum and progress towards meeting instructional goals, provide instruction, and Special Education Support to students with extensive support needs related to one or more of the following disabilities: autism, deafblind, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, and traumatic brain injury; in kindergarten, including transitional kindergarten, grades 1-12 through age 22, and classes organized primarily for adults in services across the continuum of program options available.

  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH)
    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 with a disability of deaf or hard-of-hearing, or deafblind , including autism, and services to students with a hearing loss that manifests itself in conjunction with additional disabilities including unilateral or bilateral, whether fluctuating, conductive, sensorineural, and/or auditory neuropathy, to students from birth through age 22, and classes organized primarily for adults in services across the continuum of program options available.
  • Visual Impairments (VI)
    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 with a disability of visual impairment including blind or deafblind, including autism, to students from birth through age 22, and classes organized primarily for adults in services across the continuum of program options available.                                                                                                                                                                
  • Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)
    Authorizes the holder to conduct Educational Assessments related to students’ access to the academic curriculum and progress towards meeting instructional academic goals; and provide instruction and Special Education Support to students from birth through kindergarten who are eligible for early intervention special education and related services related to one or more of the following disabilities: 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 in services across the continuum of program options available.

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An added authorization in Early Childhood Special Education is also available to individuals who hold a preliminary, Level I, clear, Level II, or life special education teaching credential, and who complete a program though a Commission-approved program sponsor.

The Early Childhood Special Education Added Authorization authorizes the holder to conduct Educational Assessments related to students’ access to the academic curriculum and progress towards meeting instructional academic goals; and provide instruction and Special Education Support to students from birth through kindergarten who are eligible for early intervention special education and related services related to one or more of the following disabilities: 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 in services across the continuum of program options available.

The credentialing process in California includes a sequence of requirements that allows teachers up to five years to complete the requirements for the Clear credential. Teachers receiving the Preliminary credential are making a commitment to complete the process and obtain the Clear credential. The Preliminary credential is issued for a maximum of five years. If requirements for the Clear credential are not completed before the expiration of the Preliminary credential, the holder will be unable to teach in California’s public schools with that credential until those requirements are met and the document renewed.

Individuals Prepared Outside of the United States

Individuals who completed their teacher preparation programs outside of the United States and do not hold a comparable teaching credential issued by a US state other than California should refer to Commission leaflet CL-872, entitled Education Specialist Instruction Credential-Requirements for Individuals Prepared Outside of the United States.

Your Application Packet

To qualify for the Education Specialist Instruction Credential, individuals may determine from the routes listed which one best applies to their circumstances. Individuals who completed their professional preparation programs outside of California may apply directly to the Commission for their initial credential by submitting an application packet by mail consisting of all of the following:

  1. Completed application (form 41-4), and, if not previously submitted to the Commission, a completed Live Scan receipt (form 41-LS). Out-of-state residents must submit two fingerprint cards (FD-258) in lieu of a Live Scan receipt. If submitting fingerprint cards, current fingerprint processing fees must accompany the application packet in addition to the application processing fee. Educators residing outside California may order fingerprint cards from the Commission by submitting contact information through the CTC Fingerprint Card Request portal.

  2. Application processing fee.

  3. Official transcripts, letters of experience, verification of completion of the basic skills requirement (if applicable), photocopies of out-of-state credentials, and performance evaluations as required by the route used to earn the credential.

Route 1 - Less than Two Years of Out-of-State Teaching Experience

Requirements for the Five-Year Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential

Individuals prepared outside of California who have less than two years of out-of-state full-time teaching experience (see Terms and Definitions) may qualify for a California teaching credential by submitting all of the following documentation in their application packet:

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

  2. Basic Skills Requirement. Individuals may be issued a Preliminary credential prior to satisfying the basic skills requirement but must meet the requirement within one year of their credential issue date. See Commission leaflet CL-667, entitled Basic Skills Requirement for additional information.

  3. Comparable professional-level teaching credential earned in a state or U.S. territory other than California based upon completion of a professional preparation program (or alternative program) in special education, including student teaching, taken at a regionally-accredited institution. The program must align with a specialty area authorized on a California credential (see Areas of Specialization list).

    The credential does not have to be valid at the time of application. A photocopy of the out-of-state credential (front and back, as applicable) is acceptable verification.

If the out-of-state credential was issued in only “Special Education,” or in a specialty area that does not align with a California specialty area, the Commission may issue a Preliminary credential to an individual based on completion of an out-of-state generic program in one of these specialty areas: Mild to Moderate Support Needs, Extensive Support Needs, or Early Childhood Special Education.

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Requirements for the Clear Education Specialist Instruction Credential for Route 1

Individuals will need to document all of the following to qualify for the Clear credential:

  1. A Commission-approved Teacher Induction Program, including an individualized induction plan designed in collaboration with the employing agency and program sponsor in the specialty area listed on the individual’s Preliminary credential and a formal recommendation for the credential by the program sponsor (See Terms and Definitions).

  2. An authorization to teach English learners by one of the following methods:
    1. Possess an English learner authorization issued by the Commission authorizing service in English language development (ELD) and Specially Designed Academic Instruction delivered in English (SDAIE). See Credential Leaflet CL-628C for more information.
    2. Submit a copy of an out-of-state credential verifying a full English learner authorization.

  3. Completion of the equivalent of a Commission-approved Preliminary program in the specialty area (if necessary). The Induction program sponsor is responsible to verify from the Preliminary program that any required coursework held for completion has been fulfilled before submitting the recommendation for the clear credential (See Terms and Definitions for more details).

Note: The last date to enroll a candidate in a Level II program was December 31, 2014. The last date to complete a Level II program was January 31, 2019.

ROUTE 2 – Two or More Years of Out-of-State Teaching Experience

Requirements for the Five-Year Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential

Individuals prepared outside of California who verify two or more years of out-of-state full-time special education teaching experience (see Terms and Definitions) may qualify for a California teaching credential by documenting all of the following:

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

  2. Basic Skills Requirement. Individuals may be issued a Preliminary credential prior to satisfying the basic skills requirement but must meet the requirement within one year of their credential issue date. See Commission leaflet CL-667, entitled Basic Skills Requirement for additional information.

  3. Comparable professional-level teaching credential earned in a state or U.S. territory other than California based upon completion of a professional preparation program (or alternative program) in special education, including student teaching, taken at a regionally-accredited institution. The program must align with a specialty area authorized on a California credential (see Areas of Specialization list).

    The credential does not have to be valid at the time of application. A photocopy of the out-of-state credential (front and back, as applicable) is acceptable verification.

  4. Letter from the out-of-state employer verifying two years or more of out-of-state full-time special education teaching experience accompanied by two satisfactory performance evaluations (see Terms and Definitions).

If the out-of-state credential was issued in only “Special Education,” or in a specialty area that does not align with a California specialty area, the Commission may issue a Preliminary credential to an individual based on completion of an out-of-state generic program in one of these specialty areas: Mild to Moderate Support Needs, Extensive Support Needs, or Early Childhood Special Education.

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Requirements for the Clear Education Specialist Instruction Credential for Route 2

Individuals may apply directly to the Commission for the Clear credential by submitting an application packet by mail (form 41-4) and processing fee with documentation of all of the following:

  1. Earn an authorization to teach English learners by one of the following methods:
    1. Possess an English learner authorization issued by the Commission authorizing service in English language development (ELD) and specially designed academic instruction delivered in English (SDAIE). See Credential Leaflet CL-628C for more information.

    2. Submit a copy of an out-of-state credential verifying a full English learner authorization.

  2. Completion of the equivalent of a Commission-approved Preliminary program in the specialty area (if necessary).

    If all requirements for the Preliminary credential and Clear credentials are met with the initial application, the individual will be issued the Clear credential and not the Preliminary.

ROUTE 3 – National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification

Individuals certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in Exceptional Needs/Early Childhood through Young Adulthood will be issued a Clear Education Specialist Instruction Credential. This includes those individuals who obtained National Board Certification after their Preliminary credential was issued. Individuals qualifying under this route are exempt from the basic skills requirement and all other credential requirements except fingerprint clearance.

Individuals applying under this option may apply directly to the Commission for the Clear credential by submitting an application by mail consisting of all of the following:

  1. Photocopy of National Board Certification.

  2. Completed application (form 41-4), and, if not previously submitted to the Commission, a completed Live Scan receipt (form 41-LS). Out-of-state residents must submit two fingerprint cards (FD-258) in lieu of a Live Scan receipt. If submitting fingerprint cards, current fingerprint processing fee must accompany the application packet. Fingerprint cards may be ordered by sending an email to the Commission at OutofStateFPs@ctc.ca.gov.

  3. Copy of a professional level credential from a state other than California.

  4. Submit one of the following:
    1. A copy of the individual’s NBPTS “My Profile” status page report which indicates the specific special education certificate specialty area completed.

    2. Official transcripts verifying the content of the special education program completed.

    3. Photocopy of out-of-state credential with a corresponding specific special education specialty area.

      (For Option 4c): If the out-of-state credential was issued in only “Special Education,” or in a specialty area that does not align with a California specialty area, the Commission may issue a Preliminary credential in one of these specialty areas: Mild to Moderate Support Needs, Extensive Support Needs, or Early Childhood Special Education to an individual based on completion of an out-of-state generic program.

  5. Application processing fee.

Transition Renewal Options for Out-of-State Prepared Teachers Issued an Education Specialist Instruction Teaching Credential Prior to January 1, 2007
Individuals issued a Level I Education Specialist Instruction Teaching Credential prior to January 1, 2007 on the basis of completion of an out-of-state teacher preparation program may use the transition option under Senate Bill 1209 to the current clear credential requirements. Additional information can be found in Coded Correspondence 06-0027.

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Terms and Definitions

  • Preliminary Credential Issued Based on Completion of a Generic Program
    The Preliminary Education Specialist Programs include concentration on the specific specialty area in which special education services will be provided. Individuals who complete generic special education programs outside of California may choose one of the following specialty areas in which to apply for the five year Preliminary credential: Mild to Moderate Support Needs, Extensive Support Needs, or Early Childhood Special Education. These individuals need to contact a Commission-approved Education Specialist program for an evaluation to determine if the out-of-state program is equivalent to the Preliminary Education Specialist program content (Level I programs have ended), or if any additional categorical (specialty area) course work is required before qualifying for issuance of the clear credential. For more information, visit the Commission-approved programs.

    Upon satisfying all equivalency requirements, the program sponsor must provide the teachers with letters verifying Preliminary program equivalency. The Preliminary program equivalency letters must be submitted to the Commission at the time the teachers apply for their clear credentials via the experience route or to the teacher induction program sponsors that will recommend the teachers for their clear credentials. See Coded Correspondence 13-07 and the Teacher Induction FAQs for more information.

    If the out-of-state credential was issued in only “Special Education,” or in a specialty area that does not align with a California specialty area, the following criteria apply:
    • The Commission may deem the program comparable if student teaching was completed in the requested specialty area. Candidates must submit a letter on letterhead from the institution where the program was completed verifying the student teaching area.

    • The Commission may deem the program comparable if two years of out-of-state or California teaching experience was completed in the requested specialty area. Candidates must submit a letter on letterhead from the employing agency verifying the area of assignment.

  • Commission-Approved Teacher Induction Program
    A two year, job embedded program of mentoring, support and learning based in the California Standards for the Teaching Profession for the beginning teacher. Upon program completion, the candidate will receive from the induction program sponsor a formal recommendation for the clear credential, submitted to the Commission as an online application for the candidate to complete. Information on enrollment in the teacher induction program may be obtained through the credentials or human resources department of the local school district or county office of education.

  • Full-time Teaching Experience
    Teaching experience must be verified by an original letter on official letterhead of the district or districts where the teacher was employed, signed by the superintendent, assistant superintendent, or director of personnel or human resources. The letter must explicitly state the service performed was on a full-time basis and indicate all of the following:
    • Experience must be full-time teaching; no part-time or a combination of teaching and other school employment will be accepted. Full-time teaching is defined as a minimum of 4 hours per day for at least 75% of a school year. Beginning and ending dates of service should be clearly indicated.

    • All experience must be gained in regionally-accredited schools outside California. Teaching experience gained in California is not acceptable.

    • Only special education teaching experience is acceptable toward the issuance of a Preliminary or Clear Education Specialist Instruction Credential via the experience route.

    • Day-to-day substitute, Adult education, and Vocational/Career Technical education experience is not acceptable.

  • Satisfactory Performance Evaluations
    Originals or photocopies of the teacher’s performance evaluations for at least two years of teaching on which ratings of ‘satisfactory’ or better were received must be submitted by individuals applying via Route 2. The evaluations must be from the period of full-time service verified by the out-of-state employer. Applicants must submit summative teacher evaluations for continued employment. Classroom visits/observations or pre-observations, plans for professional growth, self-assessments, self-reflections, or personal reviews do not meet the criteria for performance evaluations and will not be accepted.

    Individuals who were not evaluated or who cannot obtain photocopies of their evaluations may provide a supplemental evaluation letter(s) signed by their out-of-state principal or superintendent in lieu of actual performance evaluations. The supplemental letter must cover two separate years of full-time teaching and verify that the individual’s performance in at least the four following areas was “satisfactory” or better:
    1. The use of teaching strategies that motivates all students to engage in the learning process.

    2. The ability to establish and maintain high standards for student behavior.

    3. A demonstration of deep knowledge of the subject being taught and the use of appropriate instructional strategies that promote student understanding.

    4. An ability to plan and implement a sequence of appropriate instructional activities.

Each evaluation or performance letter must be completed, dated and signed by the appropriate school or school district administrator.

 

California participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement, visit the NASDTEC website for more information.

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Reference:
California Education Code, Sections 44227, 44274, 44274.1, 44275.3, 44275.4, 44398 and Title 5, California Code of Regulations, Section 80048.3.1— 80048.6.

CL-808  July 2022
Updated July 19, 2022