Undergraduate education major returns

With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Jerry Brown has reversed a half-century-old law that prevented aspiring teachers in California from majoring in education and required them to pursue a teaching credential only after earning a bachelor’s degree.

The legislation that Brown signed last month will allow colleges and universities in the state to once again establish teacher preparation as an undergraduate major, enabling students to become an elementary or middle school teacher in four years, as they once did — and currently do in most other states — instead of five and sometimes six years.

Primary pathway: Most teachers follow a 4-year undergraduate degree with a postgraduate teacher preparation program of one or two years that leads to a preliminary credential. Some preparation programs also lead to a master’s degree in addition to a credential.

“Blended” or “integrated pathway: Some teachers go through intensive programs that integrate academic content and teacher preparation as an undergraduate. Programs provide candidates with a bachelor’s degree and a preliminary credential. Elementary and middle school teachers often major in Liberal Studies or Interdisciplinary Studies, emphasizing a breadth of subject matter, and receive a multiple subject credential. High school teachers, requiring content expertise, pursue single subject credentials.

Internship pathway: An alternative route to certification, intern programs allow prospective teachers to work in the classroom, gaining practical experience while completing coursework in a teacher preparation program. All intern applicants must already have completed a bachelor’s degree and passed the basic skills test. Many receive minimal training before entering the classroom.

Exams: All teachers must pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test, covering fundamental math, reading and writing skills. They also must pass the California Subject Examinations…

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