Skip to main content
Division of Curriculum and Instructional Services at the Los Angeles County Office of Education
Verification Process for Special Settings powered by CDOL

About Us

General Information

  • The VPSS program provides an opportunity for teachers in special programs to develop the content and pedagogical skills necessary to ensure students are academically successful while meeting Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) teacher requirements. The goal of the VPSS program is to ensure that teachers have the subject matter competence and skills to ensure that students can meet the California Standards and graduate from high school college and career ready.
  • VPSS Professional Development courses provide participants with the rigorous content knowledge and the effective secondary-level instructional strategies necessary to enable students to meet secondary content standards.
  • Tier I and Tier II courses are provided in the core subject areas of English / Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.
  • Each course is 5 weeks.
  • Course content and processes are built around the secondary core content standards and the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.

What is VPSS?

VPSS is a state-approved advanced certification process by which teachers in “special settings” have an additional option to become compliant with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) legislation.

VPSS combines subject matter coursework from an accredited college or university and professional development that is intensive and focused on the subject matter content specified in the California standards, frameworks and Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) subject matter assessments. The specifications for the professional development component cover content aligned to the CTC Subject Matter Requirements (SMRs) and thus the content of the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) Single Subject Examinations, the California Core Academic Standards, and the CSTs. The professional development incorporates theory and practice, is organized in two levels, and meets the HQT criteria for high quality professional development. The duration of the modules is designed to meet the need for sufficient intensity of the training. 2016-2017 is a transition year, moving from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Since the latest guidance no longer requires Section 1119, the VPSS will no longer be necessary for teachers of special settings as these teachers will have demonstrated subject matter competence via state certification. An LEA or teacher may continue to use the VPSS certification process but it is not required during this transitional year. (Every Student Succeeds Act – Update #3, April 15, 2016, CDE)

Who May Participate?

To be eligible to participate in a VPSS program, the teacher must:

  1. Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning;
  2. Hold a California teaching authorization (an Intern Certificate/Credential for no more than three years is also acceptable);
  3. Be a Highly Qualified Teacher in one core academic subject. The ESSA defines "core academic subjects" to include English, reading or language arts, math, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography (including elementary multiple subjects); and
  4. Be assigned to teach one or more core academic subjects in one of the following special settings:
    • Secondary Special Education: A secondary special education teacher is eligible to participate in a VPSS program if he/she is providing primary instruction of one or more core academic subjects to students with disabilities who are not assessed with the California Alternative Performance Assessment (CAPA), regardless of the instructional setting.
    • Secondary Education Options Programs: As specified by California Education Code (EC) Section 44865, secondary education options programs include the following: home teacher; classes organized primarily for adults; hospital classes; necessary small high schools; continuation schools; alternative schools; opportunity schools; juvenile court schools; county community schools; and community day schools.
    • Secondary Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) Programs: Teachers in this setting have options for demonstrating core academic subject matter competence under the SRSA flexibility granted by the United Stated Department of Education. See the description of this flexibility in the Glossary of Terms.

Please note: Independent study is an alternative instructional strategy and not an alternative curriculum. Teachers in these secondary special settings who use the independent study instructional strategy are eligible to use this process.

How Does VPSS Work?

Level I and Level II Professional Development activities must meet the high quality professional development specifications and rubrics outlined in the HQT Guide which can be accessed on the CDE’s Improving Teacher & Principal Quality Web page at, as well as the subject matter specifications in Appendix A. (“VPSS Information” linked on this web page) The superintendent of a district or county office of education must approve all Level I and Level II activities. Please check with your district’s Human Resources Department for eligibility.

Level I Coursework Breakdown

  • If the teacher has less than 20 total or 10 upper division non-remedial semester units (or quarter unit-equivalent) in the ESSA core academic subject, the teacher must complete a Level I High Quality Professional Development Course and a Level II High Quality Professional Development Course in the core subject.


Level II Coursework Breakdown

  • If a teacher has less than 32 non-remedial semester units but at least 20 total or 10 upper division non-remedial semester units (or quarter unit-equivalent) in the ESSA core academic subject, the teacher must complete a Level II High Quality Professional Development Course. The criteria for high quality, rigorous professional development is content based, not time based.


Funding for VPSS

Possible Funding Sources: Title 1, Part A, and Title 2, Part A

VPSS Guidelines

This 38 page PDF document is from the California Department of Education.

VPSS Guidelines