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1 LESN Listserv Responses What are the certification requirements for special education teachers in your state? Do teachers have to have an education degree? Can a teacher without an education degree go through an alternative certification program and become certified in special education? Also have any states looked at or implemented any program or tried different methods for recruiting and retaining special education teachers? (September 2012) Arkansas Kansas Maryland In Arkansas, currently special education is an endorsement area thus a teacher must first meet at the initial criteria for teacher licensure (such as an education degree or alternative licensure), become licensed, then add the special education endorsement. The Department of Education is making changes via rule to the way special education teachers are licensed. The proposed rules would allow special education to be a primary license rather than just an endorsement area. The hope it that this will increase the number of special education teachers available and reduce the number of special education waivers we currently have. Applicant requirements for an initial teaching license Bachelor s degree from a regionally accredited college or university Completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program Recency - means the applicant must have at least 8 credit hours or one year of accredited teaching experience completed within the last six years Content assessment in each of the endorsement areas you were trained to teach and wish to put on your license Pedagogy assessment - Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) For our traditional programs, it is possible to get a generic special education certification without a content area companion dual certification. We do not recommend those programs very strongly, even though the quality of the special education program may be strong, because, as you know, the teacher has not been considered to be HQT under NCLB without the content competency piece to accompany the special education certification. Programs from higher education institutions that have more than 2,000 fulltime students are required have NCATE accreditation, so the program must submit to the SPAs for review in assurance that individuals leaving those programs with certification have met the program standards for CEC. For IHE under 2000 FTE that graduate special education students, programs must still meet CEC standards and are reviewed in house for appropriate content and assessments. Of course, testing is required for all and the testing specific to individual certifications, including that for special education, can be found at

2 on_branch/testing_information/praxis2 Yes, individuals who meet the entry requirements for an alternative program, a Maryland Approved Alternative Preparation Program (MAAPP), which include at least an undergraduate degree which is NOT in education, can become certified in special education through a MAAPP. However, with a MAAPP, only dual certification programs are offered because teachers who utilize the Resident Teacher Certificate, the first awarded to an alternative candidate, are considered to be HQT and are the teachers of record, having demonstrated content competency through a certification subject area content test, in Maryland currently Praxis or ACTFL. Michigan Missouri As for recruitment and retention of special education teachers, other than possible signing bonuses, I am not aware of the specific strategies. I know that MAAPPs, my particular world of expertise, do extensive recruiting that focus on teaching students with disabilities, but this would not be considered a statewide effort, but a local method. The rules for special education teacher certification in Michigan are at this link: Here s the link to Missouri s special education teacher certification requirements: We do not allow ABCTE alternatively certified teachers to teach special education. Here s the relevant part of our teacher certification statute ( ) on that point: (5) By the state board, under rules and regulations prescribed by it, on the basis of certification by the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) and verification of ability to work with children as demonstrated by sixty contact hours in any one of the following areas as validated by the school principal: sixty contact hours in the classroom, of which at least forty-five must be teaching; sixty contact hours as a substitute teacher, with at least thirty consecutive hours in the same classroom; sixty contact hours of teaching in a private school; or sixty contact hours of teaching as a paraprofessional, for an initial four-year ABCTE certificate of license to teach, except that such certificate shall not be granted for the areas of early childhood education, elementary education, or special education. Nevada Here s the link to recruitment/retention strategies that focus on special education. The following information is in response to your request regarding the

3 certification of special education teachers in Nevada. Specifically, you asked if: 1) special education teachers must have an education degree; 2) a teacher without an education degree can go through an alternative certification program and become certified in special education; and 3) Nevada has looked at or implemented any program or methods for recruiting and retaining special education teachers. CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS Nevada has 12 different licensure endorsements for working with Exceptional Pupils. These include both Gifted and Talented pupils, as well as those with disabilities. The most common special education endorsement is the Generalist Resource Room endorsement. To qualify, a teacher must have some background in special education, but the policy is flexible and allows a teacher to have a non-educational degree as long as specific special education coursework has been completed. The details of Nevada s requirements can be viewed at this link to the Nevada Department of Education s website. You will note at the bottom of the webpage that Nevada also has an Option Program, which enables schools to fill high need positions with teachers who do not quite meet the endorsement requirements, but who can meet those requirements within three years. RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION Nebraska As one of the nation s largest school districts, the Clark County School District (CCSD) in Las Vegas, is continually recruiting for teachers. To improve recruitment efforts, the CCSD has created an Alternative Routes to Licensure Program, which enables individuals with successful employment histories, and Bachelors degrees in areas other than education, to enter the teaching profession. The details of this program can be viewed at this link to the CCSD s website. In Nebraska, special education teachers are required to hold a teaching certificate and an endorsement in the special education area in which they teach. An education degree is a requirement for our state's initial, standard, and professional teaching certificates. I'm not aware of any discussion in Nebraska about alternative certification routes for special education teachers. In recent years, our state board of education has authorized dual credit and career education certificates to allow individuals who might not qualify for traditional teaching certificates the opportunity to provide instruction to high school students in these areas. However, this approach hasn't extended to special education.

4 North Carolina Texas Special Education teachers must meet federal highly qualified standards. Lateral entry teachers have to pass the Special Education Praxis II related to the students they are teaching and have graduated from a regionally accredited university with at least a 2.5 GPA. What are the certification requirements for special education teachers in your state? Requirements are the same for all teachers nothing different for special ed. Do teachers have to have an education degree? No, but you have to complete a preparation program (traditional, postbaccalaureate, or alt cert). However, at the undergraduate level, students can only major in elementary education and special education through a college of education. Secondary education students must major in the certification area outside of the college of education so math teachers major in math and those classes must be the same as any non-education math major. Can a teacher without an education degree go through an alternative certification program and become certified in special education? Yes. Utah Also have any states looked at or implemented any program or tried different methods for recruiting and retaining special education teachers? Most districts offer SPED teachers an annual stipend and many districts also offer signing incentives for new SPED hires these are not at the state level though. There is a state teacher incentive grant program that allows districts to target funds specifically for high needs teachers which can include SPED. Each district designs their own incentive program though. In Utah a special education teacher must have obtained an education degree from a teacher preparation program that has standards approved by the Council for Exceptional Children or be eligible for, and complete, an alternative certification program. To be eligible for the alternative certification program, the candidate must have a bachelor s degree with courses in a wide variety of content areas. During the alternative certification program, the candidate must take college courses in pedagogy and six special education courses. When the state had more money and special education teachers were in critical demand, the state offered scholarships for paraeducators working in special education classrooms. Special education paraeducators are a good group to target, because they are apt to stay in the field. The statute is below: 53A Paraeducator to Teacher Scholarship Program. 53A Paraeducator to Teacher Scholarship Program. (1) The Paraeducator to Teacher Scholarship Program is created to award scholarships to paraeducators for education and training to become licensed

5 teachers. (2) The State Board of Education shall use money appropriated for the Paraeducator to Teacher Scholarship Program to award scholarships of up to $5,000 to paraeducators employed by school districts and charter schools who are pursuing an associate's degree or bachelor's degree program to become a licensed teacher. (3) A paraeducator is eligible to receive a scholarship if: (a) the paraeducator is employed by a school district or charter school; (b) is admitted to, or has made an application to, an associate's degree program or bachelor's degree program that will prepare the paraeducator for teacher licensure; and (c) the principal at the school where the paraeducator is employed has nominated the paraeducator for a scholarship. (4) (a) The State Board of Education shall establish a committee to select scholarship recipients from nominations submitted by school principals. (b) The committee shall include representatives of the State Board of Education, State Board of Regents, and the general public, excluding school district and charter school employees. (c) A member may not receive compensation or benefits for the member's service, but may receive per diem and travel expenses in accordance with: (i) Section 63A-3-106; (ii) Section 63A-3-107; and (iii) rules made by the Division of Finance pursuant to Sections 63A and 63A (d) The committee shall select scholarship recipients based on the following criteria: (i) test scores, grades, or other evidence demonstrating the applicant's ability to successfully complete a teacher education program; and (ii) the applicant's record of success as a paraeducator. (5) The maximum scholarship amount is $5,000. (6) Scholarship money may only be used to pay for tuition costs: (a) of: (i) an associate's degree program that fulfills credit requirements for the first two years of a bachelor's degree program leading to teacher licensure; or (ii) the first two years of a bachelor's degree program leading to teacher licensure; and (b) at a higher education institution: (i) located in Utah; and (ii) accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. (7) A scholarship recipient must be continuously employed as a paraeducator by a school district or charter school while pursuing a degree using scholarship money. (8) The State Board of Education shall make rules in accordance with this section and Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, to

6 Wisconsin administer the Paraeducator to Teacher Scholarship Program, including rules establishing: (a) scholarship application procedures; (b) the number of, and qualifications for, committee members who select scholarship recipients; and (c) procedures for distributing scholarship money. Wisconsin has a number of alternative licensure programs for those holding non-education bachelor's degrees. Candidates interested in teaching in "critical shortage" areas, which would include special education for us, have a number of options. Programs are approved by the State Superintendent and offered by various IHEs, our regional cooperative educational service agencies, and others, including private agencies. Here's a link: Pathway

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