BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 544
                                                                  Page A
          Date of Hearing:   May 20, 2009 

                                Kevin De Leon, Chair

                      AB 544 (Coto) - As Amended:  May 13, 2009 

          Policy Committee:                              Education  

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          No     Reimbursable:              No


          This bill requires the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)  
          to issue an American Indian languages credential for a two-year  
          period, upon recommendation of the tribal government of a  
          federally recognized Indian tribe in California.  Specifically,  
          this bill:  

          1)Requires an applicant for the American Indian languages  
            credential to meet the following requirements: (a) demonstrate  
            fluency in that tribe's language based on assessment developed  
            and administered by the tribe; (b) successfully complete a  
            criminal background check for credentialing purposes; and (c)  
            submit an application, fee, and recommendation for the  
            credential to the CTC through the federally recognized Indian  

          2)Requires the American Indian languages credential to authorize  
            the holder to teach the American Indian language for which the  
            credential was issued in public preschools and schools in  
            grades K-12, including adult education courses.

          3)Prohibits a holder of an American Indian languages credential  
            who does not have a valid California teaching credential to  
            teach any subject other than the American Indian language for  
            which he or she is credentialed.    

          4)Authorizes the holder of an American Indian language  
            credential, upon completion of the two-year period, to be  
            eligible for a clear teaching credential (full credential) for  
            that language, as specified.  


                                                                  AB 544
                                                                  Page B
          5)Encourages each federally recognized American Indian tribe to  
            develop a written and oral assessment that an applicant should  
            successfully complete prior to being recommended by the tribe  
            for an American Indian languages credential.  

          6)Requires a tribe that recommends a candidate for the American  
            Indian language credential to develop and administer a  
            technical assistance program, as specified.  

          FISCAL EFFECT  

          Minor, absorbable GF costs to the CTC to implement this measure.  


           1)Purpose  .  The federal Native American Languages Act of 1990  
            allows exceptions to teacher certification requirements for  
            instruction in Native American languages when these  
            requirements hinder the employment of qualified teachers who  
            teach in Native American languages.  These exceptions apply to  
            federally funded programs.  Federal law also encourages state  
            and territorial governments to make similar exceptions.

            According to A Compilation of Federal and State Education Laws  
            regarding Native Language in Curriculum and Certification of  
            Teachers of Native Languages, at least 16 states have  
            developed policies to allow Native American language teachers  
            to teach in public schools.  Twelve of these states involve  
            tribes either directly or indirectly, in the process of  
            certifying, licensing, or endorsing the teachers of Native  
            Languages for service in the state public schools.  This bill  
            is consistent with this approach in that the CTC issues an  
            American Indian languages credential, upon recommendation of  
            the tribal government. 

            There are 107 federally recognized American Indian tribes in  
            California.  Tribal languages differ greatly throughout the  
            state in grammatical and linguistic structure and cultural  
            content.  The author asserts that California has not  
            adequately implemented a process for the CTC to issue teacher  
            certification for instruction in Native American Languages to  


                                                                  AB 544
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            comply with federal law.     

           2)CTC alternative assessment options  .  According to the CTC, it  
            received a request from a school district in the Humboldt area  
            to address the needs of teachers of three local Native  
            American languages (Yurok, Karuk, and Hoopa) who need to  
            establish their subject matter competency for both  
            credentialing and federal law purposes.  Other states such as  
            Idaho, New Mexico, and Washington have recognized the unique  
            situation of Native American language groups by modifying  
            their credentialing assessment requirements to better meet the  
            needs of candidates from these language and cultural groups.  

            At its April 2008 meeting, the CTC approved alternative  
            assessment options for less commonly taught languages for  
            which no approved subject matter programs exist and for which  
            there is no examination.  This action included an option for  
            American Indian languages that includes an assessment process  
            entirely locally developed and administered by approved  
            assessor agencies/organizations, including tribal governments.  
             Candidates who pass this alternative assessment are deemed to  
            have met the subject matter competency requirement by  
            examination for the particular Native American language.  This  
            bill is consistent with the CTC's action with regard to the  
            alternative assessment for Native American languages.     

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Kimberly Rodriguez / APPR. / (916)