Over the last decade, the Integrated Credential Program at CSUSM has led the way in training our region’s educators, preparing more than 700 prospective teachers for the challenges and dynamics of instruction in today’s K-12 classrooms. In May, program alumni, faculty and staff gathered together to celebrate the 10 year milestone.

“The integrated program makes a world of difference in preparing future educators to teach 21st century learners,” said Rachelle Shull, who is finishing her final semester in the program while teaching at Discovery Elementary. “I’m so thankful for the students and administration that paved the way for students like me.”

The Integrated Credential Program (ICP) is a collaborative program offered in partnership with the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences that allows prospective teachers to complete their baccalaureate coursework in Liberal Studies, while simultaneously earning a Multiple Subject Credential. The integrated program varies from the traditional credential path where students first earn a bachelor degree and then complete a one-year teaching credential program.

One of the signature benefits of ICP is that students begin interacting with K-12 classrooms as an undergraduate, two years earlier than traditional credential students. The striking contrast is due to the underlying principle of the integrated approach, in which the subject matter that the ICP student is studying is paralleled with courses on how to teach that particular subject matter. The result is enhanced learning.

“The program has instilled in me an intrinsic understanding of how to integrate multiple content areas into every lesson using multiple modalities,” said Shull. “The practicum semesters allowed me to witness the validity of how teaching pedagogy ensures the academic and emotional success of every student.”

Preparation is the key, she added. As the campus president for the Student California Teachers Association, Shull sees firsthand the advantages that the integrated program provides for prospective teachers.

“As an ICP student, I spend more than three times the amount of hours in field practicum working with actual elementary school students, developing lesson plans and teaching curriculum than students enrolled in a traditional teaching credential program,” she said. Traditional credential candidates log 16 weeks of full-time clinical practice working in a K-12 classroom, whereas ICP students benefit from 48 weeks of firsthand instruction and interaction.

The integrated program began in 2000 after CSU Chancellor Charles Reed urged state campuses to develop collaborative programs that amalgamate curricula to enhance the quality of education for college students. Since its inception, the Integrated Credential Program at CSUSM has served as a model of excellence within the university system and nationwide. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, one of the largest teaching accreditation organizations in the country, recognized CSUSM for delivering an exceptional program that equipped students to not only handle, but excel while dealing with the social realities of teaching in today’s public schools.

In spring 2000 the program welcomed its first cohort of 14 students. In the cohort structured program, students are formed into a learning community, studying and completing coursework together for the duration of their five upper-division semesters. Since the inaugural group, more than 20 cohorts have been admitted into the program with an average of 30 prospective teachers in each. For the fall semester, ICP plans to welcome two new cohorts into the program.

“ICP gives students the opportunity to be exposed to teaching as an undergraduate, while working in a highly supported environment,” said ICP Advising Coordinator Gwen Hansen. “Through built-in support and the pairing of subject matter with field experiences, our students are graduating and entering classrooms more prepared for the challenges and dynamics they face as today’s teachers.”

“The integrated program makes a world of difference in preparing future educators to teach 21st century learners,” said Rachelle Shull, who is finishing her final semester in the program while teaching at Discovery Elementary.