The Road to A Preliminary CA Teaching Credential

A while ago, I decided to make a short video on Instagram that very quickly explained the teacher program through Western Governors University (WGU). I am now nearing the end of my journey as I get ready to complete my Student Teaching portion, otherwise known as Demonstration Teaching at WGU, and I have been asked what that process looks like. I want to reiterate that the process varies by state and by program.

Although the video touches on the most important points of the process, I wanted to recap that process below. It can be a very confusing process if you don’t have the proper mentorship as requirements are everchanging – and even more so with the effects COVID has had on the schools.



The California Basics (CBEST) is the first step to getting your credential. Most programs will not even let you start if you do not have this test. Fortunately, the test is extremely easy with a high passing rate. This is also the only test required if you choose to become a substitute teacher throughout your teacher program. Even more fortunate are those who studied liberal arts for their Undergraduate degree as many people are now exempt with certain degrees.


Teacher Program

The route to becoming a teacher can look like a lot of things as there are a number of different teacher programs. There is the traditional teacher program that will take about a year to complete and the cost vary on the location. Then, we have internships where you begin teaching at the start of the program with the promise to complete your evening courses before a determined deadline. The state also offers an option for those who have been teaching for at least three years at a private school. This offer actually exempts you from a teacher program as long you complete the other requirements listed on the CTC. Finally, you have a Masters and Credential duo program. I have chosen this option with the ability to accelerate. This means that your two-to-three year program is completed sooner if you choose to take on more courses. With WGU, I have completed all courses within a year and an additional term for student teaching.

It is also important to note that your teacher program will be specific to the grade/age range you want to teach. My credential will allow me to teach K-5 in the state of California.



Depending on your program, you will have to take a number of tests. My program requires that we take three different CSETs focusing on core disciplines and are normally completed before you enter the classroom for Student Teaching. This is another thing that future teachers may not have to worry about as there have been talks of removing this portion in California.


Preclinical Observation Hours (PCE)

This might be unique to my teacher program, but I could be completely wrong. I just haven’t heard of this requirement from other programs. PCE consists of two weeks of observation in a classroom. These hours can only be completed after all courses have been passed and is usually coordinated by WGU. This can be completed within two weeks or over the course of your term. This is a great option for those who are planning to work throughout the program.


Background Checks // Medical

All programs will require a number of background checks. The host school may also ask for different background checks as well. Although this step is quick and easy to fulfill, it can take a while to get approved, so it is always suggested to complete as soon as possible.


Student Teaching

This is where the real fun begins. After all courses, background checks and waiting is over, you will finally step into a classroom where you will learn how to be the best teacher you can be. You will learn from your host teacher and begin to take over lessons as if it were your own classroom. The length also depends on the program you are in. My program at WGU requires 65 days of classroom experience. This equals out to about 13 weeks. However, other programs may require a lengthier time, up to 5-6 months.



The Reading Instruction California Assessment is the last step to your credential, and it definitely is not the easiest. Google averages about 2 hours of study time per day for about 8 weeks. It now consists of three subtest on different elements that affect a child’s ability to learn and you can choose one of two ways to complete the exam – a three-part written exam or a series of video recordings. The written exam is returned in less than 10 days, while the recordings take about 3 weeks to finalize.


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