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California introduces pre-K through 3rd grade teaching credential to elevate early childhood education workforce and outcomes

California introduces pre-K through 3rd grade teaching credential to elevate early childhood education workforce and outcomes

PR Newswire

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has established a new teaching credential for pre-kindergarten through third grade (PK-3) aimed at expanding a diverse workforce of educators who have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide developmentally appropriate learning for all young children.

The PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Instruction Credential recognizes the importance of early education in shaping the academic, social, and emotional development of young learners. It is designed and intended to help meet the demand for qualified teachers to support California's universally available transitional kindergarten for all four-year-olds by the 2025-26 academic year.

"The establishment of the PK-3 credential is an important moment in our commitment to ensure that California produces educators grounded in equitable, inclusive, and diverse teaching practices who are prepared to provide comprehensive age-appropriate instruction, including in math and literacy," said Mary Vixie Sandy, executive director, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.  

"This specialized workforce of teachers will reflect the students they serve and will be empowered to make a lasting impact on our state's children, families, and communities."

Prospective PK-3 teachers must complete a Commission approved teacher preparation program that includes coursework and supervised clinical practice in California schools as well as completion of a performance assessment demonstrating their competence to teach early learners.

The new PK-3 credential recognizes and values the rich background and extensive skills candidates with early childhood education experience bring to classrooms.

It is for this reason that there are accelerated pathways to earn the PK-3 credential for professionals with early learning experience as well as for multiple subject credential holders so they may begin serving as quickly as possible in transitional kindergarten and K-3 settings.

On May 2, 2024, the Commission's Committee on Accreditation approved the first teacher preparation programs to offer the PK-3 credential including San Diego County Office of Education, Cal State Fresno, and San Jose State University. These programs and others as they are approved will be listed on the Commission's website.

"Based on our initial interaction with people who are interested in the PK-3 credential program, we found that many of them are experienced preschool teachers, and they will bring a lot of experience and developmentally appropriate practice into the program and also into the public school system," said Pei-Ying Wu, assistant professor and Fransler Chair, Joyce M. Huggins Early Education Center, Fresno State.

The establishment of the PK-3 credential, along with the universal transitional kindergarten (UTK) implementation, is part of California's larger Master Plan for Early Learning and Care that underscores the state's commitment to advance equitable opportunities and outcomes for children.

The Commission began development of the PK-3 credential in September 2021 following a historic level of early childhood education investments enacted earlier that year by the Legislature to support statewide UTK by the 2025-26 school year.

Once fully implemented, UTK is expected to enroll more than 300,000 students and require up to 15,600 additional credentialed teachers, according to a report from the Learning Policy Institute.

Those interested in learning how to earn the PK-3 or other teaching credentials are encouraged to visit the Commission's Career Pathways tool or contact


Roadmap to Teaching

PK-3 Credential Resources

Approved Teacher Preparation Programs

Funding Your Future in Teaching

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is an agency in the Executive Branch of California State Government. It was created in 1970 by the Ryan Act and is the oldest of the autonomous state standards boards in the nation. The major purpose of the agency is to serve as a state standards board for educator preparation for the public schools of California, the licensing and credentialing of professional educators in the State, the enforcement of professional practices of educators, and the discipline of credential holders in the State of California.

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SOURCE California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

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