Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Anne Zeman

First Committee Member

Laura Hallberg

Second Committee Member

Fred Estes


This study examines why the passing rates of African Americans on the CBEST are the lowest in California at 60%. Madkins (2011) identified licensure testing as a significant reason why African Americans cannot enter the teaching progression. According to Darling-Hammond et al. (2016), California has an ongoing credentialed teacher shortage. An even more significant need is for teachers of color. According to the California Department of Education (2021), 60% of the state’s educator workforce is White, while the state student body, multicultural and multilingual, is only slightly more than 22% White. While licensure testing for teachers is required in all 50 states, it is well documented that it negates teacher diversity (Brown, 2005; Goldhaber & Hansen, 2010; Sleeter, 2016). The research confirms how it effectively curtails the number of African American educators (Behizadeh & Neely, 2018; Ingersoll et al., 2019; Petchauer, 2012). To clarify why the CBEST is so difficult for African Americans, I used a narrative inquiry with a counter-narrative framework. The inquiry describes the lived experiences of African American applicants in order to interrogate the CBEST’s impact on prospective and current African American teachers in California.