Education Specialist Instruction Credential
Requirements for Teachers Prepared in California for the Level I and Level II Credentials

The Commission issues a two-level special education teaching credential. A five-year Level I Education Specialist Instruction Credential was the first document issued after an individual has met basic credential requirements. The last date for candidates to finish the Level I program was January 31, 2013. Level I credential holders enrolled in Level II programs are allowed to finish their current programs. The Level II credential was issued once all credential requirements have been completed. 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 Commission has transitioned to the new preliminary and clear Education Specialist Instruction Credentials. For credential candidates seeking to enter a Commission-approved preliminary education specialist credential program or clear special education induction program, see Credential Information Leaflet CL-808CA.

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 

Teaching English Learners

Individuals that completed an Education Specialist Level I Teacher Preparation Program that includes content for teaching English learners, as described in Education Code section 44259.5, are authorized to provide instruction for English language development in grades twelve and below, including preschool, and in classes organized for adults; 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;  emotional disturbance; traumatic brain injury; and authorizes service in grades K–12, transitional kindergarten, and in classes organized primarily for adults through age 22.

  • 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; deafblind; autism; and authorizes service to individuals ages birth through 22.

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

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 area of mild/moderate or moderate/severe disabilities for students ages birth to pre-K as determined by the local level special education assessment.

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Certificates of Eligibility

Certificates of Eligibility may have been issued to California prepared individuals who meet all the requirements for the Level I credential but are not yet employed in a specialist position. The Certificate allows the individual to seek employment in the specialist position(s) listed on the certificate. Once securing an offer of employment, the holder of a Certificate of Eligibility may apply for the Level I credential by submitting an application (form 41-4) and processing fee to the Commission.

Note: The Certificate of Eligibility is not available for candidates completing the Preliminary Education Specialist
Instruction Credential program.

Transition to the Clear Credential

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 and completion of the Level II content that is now embedded in the preliminary credential program. For more information, visit the Teacher Induction FAQs found on the Commission’s website.

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 Level I Education Specialist Instruction Credential will be issued a Level II Credential. Individuals meeting this criteria may submit an application directly to the Commission by mail including form 41-4, application processing fee and a photocopy of their National Board Certification.

Terms and Definitions

  • Full-Time Teaching Experience
    This is defined as teaching a minimum of 4 hours a day, unless the minimum statutory attendance requirement for the students served is less. Experience must be on a daily basis and for at least 75% of the school year. Experience may be accrued in increments of a minimum of one semester. No part-time or combination of teaching with other school employment will be accepted. All experience must be gained in public schools in California. The candidate shall be responsible for obtaining verification of this experience on the official letterhead of the district or districts by the superintendent, assistant superintendent, director of personnel, or director of human resources in which the teacher was employed.

  • 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 Individual Learning Plan (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.

  • Individual Learning Plan (ILP)
    Based on the Transition Plan, the ILP includes appropriate professional development and/or course work designed to expand and apply the candidate’s skills and knowledge. The scope of the ILP is determined by the teacher’s educational setting and/or areas identified in the Transition Plan as areas of need. The ILP identifies the coursework, experiences, and/or tasks that must be completed while guiding the activities to support growth and improvement of professional practice.

    The ILP includes professional development and/or course work to guide the activities that support growth and improvement of professional practice. The scope of the ILP is determined by the teacher’s educational setting and/or areas identified in the Transition Plan. A support provider, who holds a valid California special education teaching credential in the specialty area of the teacher or has sufficient professional background and experience in the specialty area, must be assigned to the teacher within 30 days of employment. The ILP must be completed by the special education teacher, the employing agency, and the program sponsor within 60 days of enrollment in the induction 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.

  • Developmental Delay
    Student who needs special education and related services by experiencing a delay in one or more of the following:
    physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development or adaptive development.

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

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California Education Code, Sections 44225 and 44265, and Title 5, California Code of Regulations, Section 80046.5 through 80048.8.1.

CL-808C  July 2022
Updated February 12, 2024