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Saturday, October 29, 2022

Special Ed Teacher Standards

Madeline Will at Education Week:
In the face of teacher shortages, many states have lowered licensing standards to get teachers in classrooms as quickly as possible. But here’s a Catch-22: they can’t do that with special education teachers.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the federal law on educating students with disabilities, requires that special education teachers be “appropriately and adequately prepared and trained” and “have the content knowledge and skills to serve children with disabilities.”

The U.S. Department of Education has taken note that some states and districts may be skirting the law. On Oct. 4, Valerie Williams, the director in the office of special education programs at the education department, warned state directors of special education that those requirements haven’t changed—despite the challenges many states are facing in recruiting enough special educators to fill vacancies.

From the memo by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services:

Those qualifications must ensure that each person employed as a public school special education teacher in the State who teaches in an elementary school, middle school, or secondary school: (1) has obtained full State certification as a special education teacher (including certification obtained through an alternate route to certification as a special educator, if such alternate route meets minimum requirements described in 34 C.F.R. § 200.56(a)(2)(ii) as such section was in effect on November 28, 2008), or (2) passed the State special education teacher licensing examination and holds a license to teach in the State as a special education teacher, except in the case of a teacher teaching in a public charter school. A teacher teaching in a public charter school must meet the certification or licensing requirements, if any, set forth in the State’s public charter school law. In addition, public school special education teachers may not have special education certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis; and must hold at least a bachelor’s degree.