Certification Requirements to Become a Math Teacher in California

If you want to become a math teacher in California, there are a number of steps you must complete:

Complete an Approved Math Teacher Preparation Program
Verify your Mathematics Subject Matter Competence
Apply for an Initial California Math Teaching Credential
Apply for and Maintain a Clear Math Teaching Credential
Stay Current on the Latest in Math Education in California

The California State Board of Education Common Core State Standards CCSS reflect the state’s focus on coherence and rigor as guiding principles for mathematics instruction and learning. These standards also demonstrate California’s commitment to providing a world-class education for all students.

Mathematics standards in California involve learning the mathematical content in the context of real-world situations, and using mathematics to solve problems. They also focus on developing “habits of mind,” which foster mastery of mathematics content and mathematical understanding.

As an aspiring math teacher in California you will become familiar with the two types of mathematical standards under the CCSS:

  • Eight Mathematical Practice Standards, which are identical for each grade level
  • Mathematical content standards, which differ at each grade level

Both of these standards are structured to help educators recognize opportunities to engage students in mathematics in grade-appropriate ways.



Step 1. Complete an Approved Math Teacher Preparation Program

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) has approved a number of teacher preparation programs in California at the bachelor’s and post-bachelor’s level, each of which is designed for applicants who possess different backgrounds and degrees.

You must successfully complete one of three different types of teacher preparation programs to become a mathematics teacher in California:

Blended Program

A blended program is designed for applicants who have no prior experience or college education, as it includes the completion of a bachelor’s degree (the minimum educational requirement to teach in California), as well as all components needed to attain a teaching credential, including pedagogy courses and a student teaching experience.

Post-Baccalaureate Program

If you already possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, you may choose one of California’s post-baccalaureate programs. This is a fifth-year program that consists of two to three semesters of coursework, as well as the required student teaching experience. Some of these fifth-year post-baccalaureate programs result in a master’s degree.

Alternative Certification/Intern Program

If you have met all the subject matter requirements within your bachelor’s or graduate degree, you may begin working as a mathematics teacher in California while you complete an approved alternative certification/intern program. This type of program allows you to begin teaching, under supervision, while you complete the necessary coursework requirements focused on teaching theory and techniques.

Upon completion of an approved teacher preparation program in California, you must receive a formal recommendation from your program director to be credentialed in California.



Step 2. Verify your Mathematics Subject Matter Competence

You have already verified your subject matter competence in California if you have completed a subject matter program in mathematics. There are currently 35 such teacher preparation programs that offer a subject matter program in mathematics.

California teacher preparation programs in mathematics must include:

  • A minimum of 15 semester units of coursework that provides extended study of the subject
  • A minimum of 30 semester units of core mathematics coursework that is directly related to subjects that are commonly taught in departmentalized mathematics classes in California public schools, such as:
    • Algebra
    • Geometry
    • Number theory
    • Calculus
    • History of mathematics
    • Statistics and probability

However, if you completed an approved teacher preparation program that did not include a focus in mathematics, you will need to successfully receive a passing score on the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET), a three-part examination that is administered by Evaluation Systems (Pearson).

The CSET: Mathematics exam consists of the following sections. You must obtain a minimum passing score of 220 on each section:

  • Algebra, Number Theory: 30 multiple-choice items, and 4 constructed response items (3 in algebra and 1 in number theory)
  • Geometry, Probability and Statistics: 30 multiple-choice items, and 4 constructed response items (3 in geometry and 1 in probability and statistics)
  • Calculus, History of Mathematics: 30 multiple-choice items and 4 constructed response items (3 in calculus and 1 in history of mathematics)

Contact the examination administrator at 916-928-4003 or at www.ctcexams.nesinc.com to receive a CSET registration bulletin and test preparation information. The CSET, which is available only as a paper test, costs $69 per subtest.



Step 3. Apply for an Initial California Math Teaching Credential

The California Commission on Teaching Credentialing, which handles all teacher credentialing in California, has an online system through which you can register for your initial teaching credential. All information on the application process can be found here.

Your initial teaching credential in California is valid for a period of 5 years, and is not renewable.

Note: Your application packet must include all required documentation, including:

  • College or university transcripts
  • Application fee of $70 (made payable to the Commission on Teaching Credentialing)
  • Live Scan fingerprint form



Step 4. Apply for and Maintain a Clear Math Teaching Credential

After your initial teaching credential expires you must apply for a clear teaching credential, which is achieved after successfully completing an approved induction program.

There are two options for attaining a clear credential in mathematics:

  • Completion of a Commission-approved General Education Induction Program and submitting an application for a clear credential through the Induction program sponsor


  • Completion of a General Education Clear program and submitting an application through the Clear Credential program sponsor

More information on the induction program can be found here.

A clear teaching credential in California is valid for a period of 5 years. You can complete the renewal process through the Commission on Teacher Credentialing online system.

The Commission evaluates your Professional Fitness by reviewing your professional background and personal history. Specifically, they are looking for anything that may restrict you from working as a teacher in California. This may include reports of misconduct, complaints from school districts, or reports of violations within teacher preparation programs.



Step 5. Stay Current on the Latest in Math Education in California

One of the best ways to remain knowledgeable about teaching mathematics in California is through membership in a state or national math teacher’s association, such as:

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