Skip to main content

California Preliminary Education Specialist Credential

Students in this postgraduate Education Specialist Credential program will acquire the fudemental knowledge for educating and developing pedagogies for students with mild to moderate disabilities.

 Available Online

49 units of coursework and fieldwork

Guided by CCTC standards

Qualifies to teach students with mild/moderate disabilities

California Preliminary Education Specialist Credential

Based on a constructivist framework, the Preliminary Education Specialist Credential integrates research based best practices into instruction of students with mild/moderate disability. Students will learn about child development and working with those with disabilities—integrating these theories into pedagogies that will bring about positive learning outcomes.

Graduates of this teaching credentialing program will be able to articulate and recognize state and federal mandates, legal requirements for assessment, Individualized Family Service Program (IFSP), Individualized Education Program (IEP) development and monitoring, services, and instruction of students with disabilities.

Other Credentials and Continuing Learning Programs

Sample Courses

Advanced Behavior Intervention and Program Planning

This course explores the relationship between teacher choices, academic task and classroom environment in encouraging and discouraging student self-esteem, behavior and achievement. Four models of behavior management will be discussed from a social systems perspective: psychodynamic, behavioral, environmental, and constructivist. Analysis of behavior will be discussed in relation to antecedents and consequences of target behaviors as highlighted by a case study approach. Teacher candidates will develop skills in designing whole class management systems, as well as individualized programs (positive behavior support plans) consisting of data collection on target behaviors, identification of replacement behaviors with specific behavioral goals and objectives, and appropriate reinforcement strategies.

Advanced Transition and Career Planning

This course will address various current issues adolescents with special needs face, including physical, emotional, and social change and development. The course content will focus on the concept of transition as a life-long process with emphasis on advanced content topics including: theoretical perspectives and conceptual methods, quality of life, family issues, person-centered planning, and self-determination. Also, candidates will learn how to conduct appropriate formal and information transition assessments and incorporate assessment results into ITP planning through collaboration with other educational and community agencies involved in the transition process.

Advanced Assessment Methods in Special Education

This course provides candidates with advanced knowledge of current best practices in assessment in special education, with knowledge and practice in administering a standardized assessment as well as curriculum based assessments. Current and advanced issues in assessment such as assessing students from diverse backgrounds and response to intervention (RTI) will be discussed. Candidates will learn how to design comprehensive assessment strategies that are integrated into instruction and state curriculum standards, to monitor student performance, and to critically analyze instruction.



Fieldwork consists of observation, practicum, and student teaching. Students may be able to complete a portion of their fieldwork at their current place of employment, upon approval from the program. Prior to beginning fieldwork a background check and TB test is required.

Student Teaching is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters only. Placement is approved by the program. All students, district employed supervisors, field work supervisors and support staff are required to attend the Fall and Spring Student Teaching Orientation.


The California Preliminary Education Specialist Credential qualifies candidates to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in grades K-12 and in classes organized primarily for adults through age 22. This credential is a two-tiered process; information on completing the second level is available through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC).

Admission Requirements

  • Completed Application for Admission
  • Application Fee
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Official Transcripts from the Bachelor’s Degree Granting Institution
  • Official CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) scores
  • Letter of Recommendation required for students whose cumulative GPA is below 2.5
  • Demonstrated commitment to the mission and values of Pacific Oaks College
  • Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher except in professional education from a regionally accredited institution

*Passing the CBEST exam is an admissions expectation. However, applicants in the M.A. Education with Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, M.A. Education with Preliminary Education Specialist Credential, Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, or Preliminary Education Specialist Credential programs will be granted admission for 1 semester or 2 sessions if they have scheduled their CBEST exam at the time of application. Students without passing CBEST scores at the time of admission must participate in the CBEST workshop and support programs provided by the College. These students must pass the CBEST exam within 1 semester or 2 sessions to be allowed to progress in the program. Students who fail to pass the CBEST within this timeframe will be given the opportunity to change to the M.A. Human Development program, but must meet all admissions requirements for that program. Students who do not wish to change programs will be withdrawn. Students must request results of the exam be sent to Pacific Oaks College. The CBEST exam can be taken multiple times by the student, with a 45-day waiting period after each exam.