PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Instruction Credential

As California begins implementing universal pre-kindergarten for all four-year old children, there is a great need to expand the early teaching-learning workforce. The state anticipates requiring between 12,000 and 15,000 new teachers by 2025-26 to serve our youngest learners. To address this need, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) has approved a new teaching credential to teach children in pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade.

The PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Instruction Credential
will be offered at participating CSUs as early as the 2023-24 academic year.

Authorization by Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)

This credential authorizes the holder to teach all subjects in a self-contained general education classroom setting and to team teach or to regroup students across classrooms, in preschool through 3rd grade. The English learner (EL) authorization provided through this credential aligns with the EL authorization that is earned upon completion of a Single, Multiple or Education Specialist teaching credential program.

Summary of Credential Requirements

This credential will require the applicant to have completed all of the following requirements.

Multiple options are available for meeting these requirements:

  • Possession of a bachelor's degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher education. (Note: if the bachelor's degree is in child development or early childhood education, it will meet the subject matter requirement below). 
  • Completion of the subject matter requirement in child development or early childhood education.
  • Completion of a Commission approved PK-3 ECE Specialist Instruction Credential preparation program.
  • Passage of a Commission approved Teaching Performance Assessment.
  • Passage of the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) examination or a commission approved literacy assessment aligned with the requirements of Education Code section 44320.3.​​

​For additional information, including preconditions for the credential, please consult the PK-3 ECE Specialist Instruction Handbook. PK-3 ECE Specialist Instruction Handbook.​

Program Design Principles

The PK–3rd ECE Instruction Specialist Credential workgroup offers program design principles to serve as guidelines for each university developing the new credential. The workgroup consists of seven intersegmental teams across California, comprising 51 individuals representing more than 25 different departments and organizations. It was created to support faculty members and teacher preparation partners in developing a space to fully understand the new credential and develop cross-segment relationships.

Download Program Design Principles​

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How soon will students be able to start the new ECE PK-3 credential program?
Programs cannot be approved to start offering preparation to candidates until the credential has been established in state regulations. The earliest programs may be available in the 2023-24 academic year.

Q. If a teacher has their Multiple Subject (MS) credential, what do they need to earn their PK-3 credential?
A Multiple Subject teacher would need to meet the PK-3 subject matter requirement (24 units ECE/CD) to earn a PK-3

Q. Is a MS credential holder without PK experience required to get a PK-3 credential to teach in PK and TK?
MS credential holders are already authorized by their credential to teach PK and TK.

Q. Will the PK-3 credential require meeting the Basic Skills Requirement?

Q. Are the CBEST and CSET required for the PK-3 credential?
No, but the RICA (Reading Instruction Competence Assessment) and the TPA (Teaching Performance Assessment) will be