Supplementary Authorizations and Specific Subject Matter Authorizations

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) awards supplementary authorizations (applicable at any grade level) and introductory supplementary authorizations (applicable only at grade 9 and below) in a number of different subjects. In the past, holders of a teaching credential in one subject could secure certification to teach other subjects by obtaining supplementary authorizations or introductory supplementary authorizations in those subjects. However, federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) regulations state that all teachers must be "highly qualified" in each subject they teach, and have established a major in a subject, or course work equivalent to a major (at least 32 semester units), as the threshold for meeting that standard. Since introductory supplementary authorizations and supplementary authorizations require far fewer units (10 upper-division or 20 total units in courses approved by the CTC) than this new federal threshold, they do not meet the NCLB standards. Supplementary authorizations and introductory supplementary authorizations therefore have limited value. The CTC has instead adopted new specific subject matter authorizations to meet NCLB requirements. The specific subject matter authorization in history requires at least 32 units in the discipline, with a minimum of 16 units in United States history and a minimum of 16 units in world history. The CTC has, in addition, adopted specific subject matter authorizations in a number of other subjects, including the following social science subjects: civics/government, economics, and geography. Each of these also requires a minimum of 32 units of coursework. The CTC has published a Subject Matter Authorization Guideline Book (pdf) to explain the ramifications of these programs.

Teachers who not only hold a credential in one subject but are also certified to teach another obviously have more to offer a prospective employer and may therefore be more appealing. Students would therefore be wise to consider securing a specific subject matter authorization in another subject (e.g. biological sciences, English composition, etc.) -- if they can afford to take the additional year necessary to complete the requisite course work.