The California Basic Educational Skills Test™ (CBEST®) was developed to meet requirements of laws relating to credentialing and employment. This test requirement does not replace any of the other requirements of subject matter knowledge, professional preparation, and practice teaching or field experience applicable to the issuance of credentials. The CBEST is designed to test basic reading, mathematics, and writing skills found to be important for the job of an educator; the test is not designed to measure the ability to teach those skills.
The California legislation that established the CBEST directed the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in conjunction with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and an Advisory Board consisting of a majority of educators from California classrooms, to develop the CBEST. The development of the CBEST included definition of the primary skills to be tested; test-item writing and review for relevance to the specified skill areas; field testing; a validity study focusing on the accuracy, fairness, clarity, and job relevance of each test item; bias reviews; standard-setting studies; and determination of the passing scores. Since the initial development of the CBEST, new test items have been developed by contractors and all items have been reviewed by committees of California educators to verify that they meet test specifications adopted by the CTC and are free of bias.
The Evaluation Systems group of Pearson was contracted by the CTC to assist in the development, administration, and scoring of the CBEST.
The California Basic Skills Requirement
California Education Code Sections 44252 and 44252.6 specify that candidates must demonstrate, in English, proficiency in basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills.
Several legislative changes to California Education Code allow teacher candidates to demonstrate proficiency in basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills through several options, including passage of the CBEST.
- Who Must Satisfy the Basic Skills Requirement?
In California, you must demonstrate proficiency in basic skills if any one of the following conditions applies to you:
- You are applying for a first teaching credential or services credential. (Candidates obtaining an Exchange Credential, Sojourn Credential, or a services credential based upon completion of a preparation program outside of California may obtain an initial credential without satisfying the basic skills requirement at the request of a California employing agency. During the first year of validity of the credential, however, the individual must satisfy the basic skills requirement. For candidates obtaining an initial credential based upon completion of a preparation program outside of California and who need to complete this requirement, the basic skills requirement must be satisfied within one year of the issuance date for public employment purposes and must also be satisfied for credentialing purposes.)
- You are applying for the issuance or renewal of an Emergency Permit, such as a 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit (other than vocational), Provisional Internship Permit, or Short-Term Staff Permit, unless you already hold a valid California teaching credential for which a baccalaureate degree is required.
- You are seeking employment in California. Satisfying the basic skills requirement may also be required under Education Code Section 44830 as a condition of employment. If you are uncertain about whether you must satisfy the basic skills requirement, you should contact the school district or other California agency where you are considering employment.
- You are applying for admission to a CTC-accredited teacher preparation program, unless you already hold a valid California teaching credential for which a baccalaureate degree is required.
- You are applying for admission to a CTC-accredited services credential program.
You may take the CBEST only if you have earned, at minimum, a high school diploma, a GED, or the equivalent or if you are, or have been, a student taking courses for college credit pursuant to a career in education. If you are uncertain about your eligibility to test, please contact the CTC for approval to test.
- Who Is Exempt from the Basic Skills Requirement?
In California, you are exempt from satisfying the basic skills requirement if you are applying for one of the following credentials, certificates, or permits:
- A renewal, reissuance, or upgrading of an existing nonemergency credential, certificate, or permit unless it is specifically indicated as a renewal requirement on the document
- A credential to teach adults in an apprenticeship program
- A permit to teach in a children's center
- A credential to teach a designated subject that does not require a baccalaureate degree, including the 30-Day Substitute Designated Subjects Vocational Education Permit
- A credential to provide health services, unless the document also authorizes teaching
- A credential to teach an American Indian language only
- Any added authorization to a teaching credential (This exemption does not apply to individuals who hold a credential to teach that did not require a baccalaureate degree and for whom the teaching authorization sought requires this degree.)
- For prelingually deaf individuals only, some certifications that have the basic skills requirement allow for exemption of the basic skills exam. These credentials restrict service to state special schools or in special classes for pupils who are deaf or hearing impaired. Holders of these credentials will be required to complete a job-related assessment in lieu of the basic skills requirement. For specific information, contact the Commission on Teacher Credentialing at email@example.com.
- A Certificate of Clearance (required for practice teaching)
- An Eminence Credential
- What are the Basic Skills Testing Options for California?
Prior to the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1186 (Chap. 518, Stats. 2008), the following three options were the only options available to satisfy the California basic skills requirement needed for the issuance of most Commission documents:
- passage of the CBEST
- passage of a basic skills examination from another state
- passage of all three subtests of CSET: Multiple Subjects plus the CSET: Writing Skills (for more information about this option, view the California Subject Examinations for Teachers® [CSET®] information)
On January 1, 2009, SB 1186 added two more options for satisfying the basic skills requirement. These additional options are as follows:
- passage of both of the English and Mathematics sections of the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP), showing status as "College Ready" or "Exempt" in each section
- passage of both of the California State University placement examinations: the English Placement Test (EPT) and the Entry Level Mathematics Test (ELM). The EPT passing score is 151 or higher. The current ELM passing score is 50 or higher, while the passing score for the ELM taken prior to March 2003 is 550 or higher.
Sections from different examination options may not be combined; candidates must pass one option in its entirety. Regardless of the option used, once a basic skills examination is passed, the score is valid indefinitely.
Please see the CTC website at www.ctc.ca.gov for more information about the different examination options for certification. The basic skills requirement may also be a condition of California employment. Please contact the agency where you are considering employment for information.
Access CBEST registration fees and other test-specific information.