A New Major in Education

August 16, 2017


The Governor recently signed ACSA supported AB 170 (O’Donnell) to allow universities to design education majors for prospective teachers. AB 170 will become law on January 1, 2018.

AB 170 gives faculty the flexibility to design and offer an education major, if, in their professional opinion, such a program would strengthen their teachers’ preparedness for the classroom. Teachers would still be required to pass a subject matter competency examination to earn their credential and the major would need to meet the subject matter standards of undergraduate preparation established by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, CTC.

The decision to prohibit teachers from majoring in education was made in the 1960’s during the Sputnik-era when subject matter knowledge was valued more than pedagogical training. This prohibition also predates many important developments since the 1960’s, including the inclusion of students with special needs, increase in English Language Learners, technology for both instruction and assessment, Common Core, Every Student Succeeds Act, and more. Because of this subject matter vs. pedagogical philosophy, the complex “how to” training currently results in an extra year or two of study.

Current law authorizes teachers to complete a bachelors and a fifth year credential program as well as an integrated/blended program in which they earn their credential while earning their bachelor’s degree. AB 170 does not change either of these options but would allow the content within those program to change from a liberal studies degree to an education degree.

AB 170 allows California to create an education major similar to what every other state in the nation offers. Assembly Member O’Donnell said he “hopes that by authorizing multiple subject teachers to earn a Bachelor’s degree in education, future teachers will spend more time gaining critical knowledge and the skills about how to instruct our students”. ACSA further commented that AB 170 may result in fewer teachers leaving the profession early in their career, one more step to closing the teacher shortage.