CBEST Administration

The Basic Skills Requirement (CBEST)


The Commission on Teacher Credentialing has the responsibility to select, administer and interpret examinations used to meet certification requirements. The Commission uses examinations in various areas of certification.

Information on the examinations required for the type of certification you are seeking can be found in the Credential Requirements section of the Commission website.

This article covers: California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) Information Leaflet CL-667 [PDF] Coded Correspondence: 06-0014 [PDF], 06-0021 [PDF], and 06-0028 [PDF] California Education Code: § 44252 Title 5: § 80071.4

CBEST verifies an individual’s basic skills proficiency in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics. Evaluation Systems, Pearson is the testing contractor responsible for the administration of the CBEST.

Information regarding CBEST content, registration, administration, test schedule, fees, scoring, passing scores, and sample test material may be obtained by visiting the testing website: http://www.ctcexams.nesinc.com

Candidates enrolling in a Commission-approved credential program who have not satisfied the basic skills requirement must take the CBEST or other approved basic skills test for diagnostic purposes unless the individual is otherwise exempt.

The basic skills test must be passed prior to obtaining certification, serving as an intern or, for Multiple Subject, Single Subject, and Education Specialist Teaching Credential candidates, prior to being assigned to daily responsibility for whole class instruction in student teaching.

However, institutions may require passage prior to program enrollment. When registering for the CBEST, examinees may request that up to three institutions received a score report directly from the testing contractor in addition to the official score sent to the examinee.

The Commission has no authority to interpret regulations on the use of the basic skills requirement for employment purposes. Questions regarding employment issues should be directed to the employing agency. See California Education Code 44830 for more information.

The following documents may be issued

pending the completion of the basic skills requirement:
1. Preliminary Credentials — Out-of-state individuals may be issued a five-year preliminary Multiple or Single Subject Teaching Credential or Education Specialist Instruction Credential without the completion of the basic skills requirement with the understanding that they must verify completion of the basic skills requirement within one year from the issuance date of the credential in order for the holder to continue teaching.

2. Out-of-state prepared applicants for credentials that require basic skills (other than Multiple Subject, Single Subject, or Education Specialist Instruction Credentials); California public school employers of certain qualified individuals may request that the Commission issue a One-Year Nonrenewable (OYNR) credential pending the passage of the basic skills requirement.

3. Exchange/Sojourn Credentials – The Commission will issue Exchange or Sojourn Credentials for one year to individuals who meet all of the requirements for the document but have not yet met the basic skills requirement. The credentials will be renewed for the remainder of their term as prescribed in Title 5 regulations once the basic skills requirement has been met.

Pass, Fail and Retake

In order to pass CBEST, one must obtain a score of 41 or higher in each of the three sections (reading, writing and mathematics). However, a section score of 37 is acceptable if the total score is at least 123.

Individuals who pass the CBEST receive an “Examinee Score Report” listing the scores for the test and an overall score, a “Permanent Verification Card” verifying passage of the CBEST, and two copies of a “Verification Transcript.”

Individuals who do not pass the CBEST will only receive the “Examinee Score Report” which lists their numerical scores for each of the three parts of the test (passed and failed), the total numerical score and information about retaking the examination.

The CBEST may be taken as many times as needed. Individuals who receive a minimum passing score of 41 in a section but do not pass the entire examination need only to retake the failed section(s). The passing scores will be computed using the highest score on each section obtained at any test administration.

The minimum passing score for each of the three subtests of the CSET: Multiple Subjects examination plus the CSET:

Writing skills examination is 220. The minimum passing scores for both of the English and Mathematics sections of the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP) are a status as “College Ready” or “Exempt” in each section.

To pass the combined English Placement Test (EPT) and Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) option, the following minimum scores must be met: (1) An EPT score of 151 plus (2) an ELM score of 50 for tests administered since March 2003 or a score of 550 for tests administered prior to March 2003.

Period of Validity

Once the basic skills examination(s) has been passed, it need not be taken again since it indefinitely satisfies the basic skills requirement necessary for certification, program enrollment, and employment.

For the basic skills requirement only, the passing scores for the CSET: Writing Skills plus three subtests of the CSET: Multiple Subjects are valid indefinitely.

Please note that the validity period of the three CSET: Multiple Subjects Subtests scores used to satisfy the subject matter requirement is five years from the individual passing date of each subtest. See Coded Correspondence 00-0006 [PDF]for more information on exam score validity.

Verifying Passage of the Basic Skills Requirement

CBEST, CSET: Multiple Subjects, and CSET: Writing Skills scores are transmitted electronically into the Commission’s databases. In most cases it is not necessary to submit the “Verification Transcript,” however the Commission reserves the right to request evidence of passage when necessary.

Credential applicants must submit official score reports when verifying the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP) option or the English Placement Test (EPT) plus the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) option. T

hose who have lost their official score reports must contact ETS and request ETS to send, via email, the duplicate exam score information to the Commission.

Special Administration of CBEST

The CBEST is normally offered throughout California as a paper-based test six times a year and nationally as a computer-based test twelve times a year.

Beginning August 6, 2011, the CBEST is available for computer-based testing by appointment, year-round, Monday through Saturday (excluding holidays), on a first-come, first-served basis. Computer-based testing will be offered at numerous test centers in California and over 225 test centers nationwide.

The Commission can arrange for a special administration of CBEST for a school district, a group of school districts, a county office of education, or a group of counties in the event of an emergency employment situation.

No special administrations will be scheduled for a college or university.

An emergency is defined as a reasonably unforeseeable circumstance which cannot be avoided or a foreseeable one that cannot be accommodated because of special and unique staff recruitment problems.

The special administration cannot be scheduled within three weeks prior to a regularly scheduled exam and at least 40 people must be scheduled to take the test. For more information, refer to Title 5 80071.4(g)-(i) or contact the Commission’s Examination and Research Unit exams@ctc.ca.gov.