The program prepares highly effective practitioners in Special Education whose work is grounded in current research, theory, and evidence-based practice. Candidates develop professional skills and dispositions to effect positive change for students with specialized learning needs. We are guided by the values of equity , diversity, and inclusion, and seek to prepare the next generation of teachers to enact these values in their classrooms, schools, and communities.
Program outcomes for Special Education major
The candidate will:
- Understand the field as an evolving and changing discipline grounded in evidence-based principles and theories, relevant laws and policies, and human issues that influence the education of individuals with exceptional needs, both in school and society
- Demonstrate respect for individuals with exceptional needs as unique human beings
- Understand how exceptional conditions interact with the domains of human development and use this knowledge to respond to the varying abilities and behaviors of individuals with exceptional learning needs
- Be active in seeking to understand primary language, culture and familial backgrounds that interact with the individual’s exceptional condition
- Use multiple types of assessment information and understand the legal policies and ethical principles of measurement and assessment
- Collaborate with families, other educators, related service providers and personnel from community agencies in culturally responsive ways
The Special Education major is a distinctive program grounded in evidence-based theory and practice. Formal study examines individuals with exceptional learning needs from multi-dimensional perspectives: cognitive, academic and social learning, language, communication, behavior and attention. Applications occur in varied settings and contexts: schools, the community and at home, across the lifespan. Concepts of social justice, current law and policies, and growth and development underlie coursework.
Outcomes for Special Education teacher licensure
The candidate will:
- Develop long-range individualized instructional plans and carefully sequenced shorter-range goals and objectives that emphasize explicit modeling and efficient guided practice
- Modify instructional plans based on analysis of the individual’s learning progress, and facilitate instructional planning in a collaborative context
- Possess a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to individualize instruction for students with exceptional learning needs, and promote positive learning results in general and special curricula
- Modify or shape learning environments to encourage independence and create a safe, equitable, positive and supportive learning environment in which diversities are valued
- Enhance language development and teach communication skills using augmentative, alternative and assistive technologies
The Special Education teacher licensure program prepares candidates to teach children with disabilities. Candidates who seek initial licensure in Special Education will major in Special Education. This plan of study allows the candidate to teach students with disabilities in grades K through 12, after passing the Praxis Subject Assessment in Special Education and the Foundations of Reading examination. The program features a carefully sequenced plan of field-based experiences, ranging from focused observations to supervised assessments, culminating in student teaching.
Prospective candidates work closely with University advisement staff to apply to the School of Education, including the successful completion of the Praxis Core assessment requirement by the fall of the sophomore year. Candidates may also qualify for a waiver based on SAT/ACT scores. As required by the Connecticut State Department of Education, candidates may only complete two professional Education courses before acceptance into the teacher licensure program.
The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) regulates initial licensure requirements. The University recommends candidates for initial licensure based on successful completion of program requirements. The CSDE is responsible for the awarding of cross-endorsements in a second teaching field, beyond the initial license.
These must be completed by April 1 of sophomore year
- Sophomore standing
- Sealed official transcript(s) of all undergraduate work
- A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.67
- Declaration of the Special Education major
- Evidence of successful completion of the Praxis Core test. Candidates are eligible for a waiver of the Praxis Core test with a combined score of 1,000 or more on the SAT, if neither the math nor the verbal subtest scores were below 400 points from any test by March 31, 1995; or a combined score of 1,100 or more, with no less than 450 on the math or verbal subtest from tests April 1, 1995 or after
- Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to the candidate’s suitability as a prospective teacher. Recommendations must be obtained from individuals who are not family members or personal friends, or members of the USJ School of Education
- A well-written essay that describes reasons for wanting to enroll in the program and emphasizes experiences relevant to teaching. The essay should highlight people, places and experiences with children and adolescents who have affected this decision.
- A successful interview with an Education faculty team
- A planned B.S. degree and licensure program developed with a Special Education faculty member who advises both the major and licensure. The program is forwarded to the licensure officer for approval.
By April 1 of sophomore year, the candidate will complete and file a declaration for the Special Education major with the faculty advisor in the Special Education department. The declaration status of a transfer candidate will be determined when meeting with the University advisement office. After being admitted to the teacher licensure program, the candidate will maintain no less than a 2.67 cumulative GPA and earn no less than a C+ in Special Education and Education courses, and required General Education courses.
Candidates in the Special Education major with teacher licensure complete a carefully designed sequence of coursework before student teaching. These experiences include opportunities to interact and instruct students with and without disabilities in the general education classroom and in specialized settings, beginning sophomore year and continuing through junior year. A coordinating seminar in the final semester is a capstone course for the major.
During sophomore year, candidates are introduced to programs and services for children and youth with a range of abilities and disabilities, in a variety of settings - at school, home and the community. Field assignments acquaint candidates with the needs of students who may require specialized instruction in academic or non-academic areas and the programs that serve them.
In junior year, candidates participate in intensive, supervised clinical experiences in educational assessment and research-based interventions. Junior year courses prepare candidates to meet the rigors of student teaching, with a focus on: the development and implementation of Individual Education Plans, co-teaching and differentiation in the general education classroom, and positive behavior support. These experiences are applied to students with a range of disabilities, including learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, social/emotional disabilities, attention disorders and autism spectrum disorders.
In senior year, candidates are placed in public schools for a 10-week, full-time student teaching experience in Special Education. Candidates will also be placed in a general education classroom for a field experience. For most candidates, placements in both the special and general education classroom are in the same building.
During the second semester of senior year, candidates enroll in SPEC 499 - Coordinating Seminar. This course is a culminating experience in which candidates synthesize the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout the program, connecting theory and practice as they prepare to enter Special Education. As part of this seminar, candidates complete education evaluations of students in an on-site assessment clinic under the direct supervision and mentorship of Special Education faculty.