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Combine your passion for helping children with your interest in education — discover a career in special education.

Special education teachers are in demand, with teacher shortages reported nationwide. Our Professional Studies Certificate program leads to licensure in Special Education-General Curriculum, K-12 endorsement in Virginia. Most states will honor a Virginia teaching certificate so you can apply for a teaching license out-of-state by reciprocal agreement.



What Our Program Offers You

The Professional Studies Certificate Program for Special Education Teacher Licensure serves students who desire Virginia Special Education Teacher Licensure. Students completing this program will meet the Virginia Department of Education requirements for licensure and be eligible for endorsement in Special Education-General Education Curriculum, K-12. This endorsement area has requisite courses listed in the Licensure Regulation for School Personnel book published by the Office of Professional Licensure, Division of Compliance Coordination, Virginia Department of Education, Richmond, Virginia.

Program entry requires that the applicant possess an undergraduate degree from an accredited college. Completion of the program and teacher licensure requires successful completion of the Virginia Communication & Literacy Assessment (VCLA), and Reading for Virginia Educators (RVE); passing VCLA and PRAXIS I-MATH, or all of PRAXIS I, SAT or ACT scores are required for admission into the program. As part of the individual course work, field experiences are embedded and required in each of the courses.

Contact Information:
 Dr. Diane Painter
 20 South Cameron Street
 Office 119 
Winchester, VA 22601
 Phone: (540) 678-4304
 Fax: (540) 665-3496 email: dpainter@su.edu

Course Descriptions for PSC-Special Education

All students in professional studies programs must complete the following courses, or show they have taken equivalent courses at an undergraduate level:

PSYP 510   Advanced Growth and Development (3 credits)
RDG  523    Foundations of Reading (3 credits)
EDU  510    Foundations of Education (3 credits)

Special Education Content and Methods Courses:

SED 565: Foundations, Legal and Medical Aspects of Special Education (3 graduate credits)
This introductory course is designed to increase knowledge and develop skills involving the foundations, legal, and medical aspects of special education.  This course provides a review for an understanding and application of the legal aspects and regulatory requirements associated with the identification, education, and evaluation of exceptional students.   Compliance procedures and ethical practices as they relate to the education of students with disabilities are addressed. Students also learn characteristics and educational approaches with an emphasis on teaching students included in each of the 14 IDEA categories of characteristic exceptionalities, with a special emphasis in Learning Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities, and Emotional Disturbance.

SED 571: Characteristics of Students with Disabilities (3 graduate credits)
This course provides an overview of the characteristics of students with learning disabilities; emotional disturbance; mental retardation; development delay; autism; traumatic brain injury; multiple disabilities; and other health impairments who are accessing the general K-12 curriculum. A balance of realistic and pragmatic issues in theory research and historical perspectives are included. The influence of the family system and cultural/environmental issues as they pertain to the student with disabilities, and the educational impact of disabilities and ethical issues and practice of standards of professional behavior are addressed. Students learn how to complete a functional behavior assessment checklist based on a field-based observation and work collaboratively with educators to develop a behavior intervention plan that draws on positive behavior support to address behavioral concerns. 
SED 569: Collaborative and Consultative Strategies (3 graduate credits)
This course focuses on how educators, parents, and outside agencies engage in collaborative and consultative strategies in and outside the school environment to address the educational and social-behavioral functioning of individuals with special needs. The course provides skill development in case management for the special education instructor.

SED 575: Transitions for Students with Disabilities (3 graduate credits)
This course examines the problems, trends, and procedures used to prepare students and work with families to provide successful student transition throughout the educational experience to include postsecondary training, career development, life skills, community experiences and resources, self-advocacy and self-determination, guardianship and legal considerations.

SED 533: Language Acquisition and Reading Methods (3 graduate credits)
This course is designed to develop skills that impart a thorough understanding of the complex nature of language acquisition and reading methods. Students become aware of the developmental processes of language and study the sequential phases of language development.  Skills designed to impart an understanding of comprehension; including a repertoire of questioning strategies, summarizing and retelling skills, and strategies in literal, interpretive, critical, and evaluative comprehension are studied.

The last two courses cover the methodology of planning, instruction and assessment:

SED 567: Special Education Instruction, Behavior Management and Assessment (3 graduate credits)
This course provides an overview of the foundational factors of instruction, assessment and evaluation, including procedures for screening, pre-referral, and eligibility determinations. Students learn about test construction, uses, administration, scoring and interpretation of various assessments as well as task analysis, observation, portfolio and environmental assessments. Students complete field observations on various aspects of behavior management techniques they observe in the educational environment to describe procedures and the situations in which interventions are used.  They analyze the effectiveness of the procedures, with both positive and negative aspects addressed in the analysis.  They study a student with special needs and produce an assessment portfolio containing components of a comprehensive assessment of the child’s abilities and develop an individual education plan (IEP).

SED 573: Curriculum, Instruction and Service Delivery for Diverse Learners (3 graduate credits)
This course provides students with skills in planning, developing and implementing programs for diverse learners. In this course, students complete a teaching portfolio.  They create an individual instruction plan (IEP) that includes all the appropriate components with particular emphasis on curriculum strategies and adaptations for teaching content area materials related to the general curriculum and consider the use of assistive technology for their case study student. The teaching portfolio also includes planning for systematic instruction (including response to intervention initiatives), multi-sensory approaches, learning cognitive strategies, study skills, learning styles and assistive and instructional technology use that includes monitoring for legal and ethical uses of the technology. The portfolio must include how delivery of instruction makes a difference in the student’s learning; therefore evaluative components must also indicate what changes should be made for future teaching.

EDU 661: Supervised Classroom (6 graduate credits)
Students complete a supervised internship in special education for six graduate credits in order to be considered program completers.

Or, if a student is provisionally licensed to teach special education and is teaching fulltime in an accredited school, complete the following:
EDU 613: Management and Mentorship I (3 graduate credits) and EDU 614: Management and Mentorship II (3 graduate credits).