Special Education Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that high-incidence special education teachers demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the subject matter they are licensed to teach. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Test Requirement www.ets.org/praxis Kansas Administrative Regulation 91-1-202(q) Regulations and Standards for Kansas Educators 2018-2019 (Endorsement chart, Page 60) https://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/TLA/Licensure/Licensure%20Documents/CertHandbook18-19fulltext%2009042018.pdf?ver=2018-09-04-144958-147
Kansas was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. Kansas also stated that secondary content endorsements can be added to the license based on passing the appropriate content test. According to the state, secondary unified programs will emphasize math and English language arts, but that no programs have been approved at this time.
With regard to the state's high incidence licenses, Kansas noted that any person adding a special education endorsement will have taken and passed the content specific test for the general education they completed and are licensed teach. They can thus be assigned to provide content teaching in their licensed area to special education students or to provide supportive special education services only to students with a licensed content teacher.
Regarding the state's unified licenses, Kansas noted that no tests for this endorsement have been formally adopted at this time. Program standards for secondary unified programs include math and English language arts content standards/competencies that must be met by candidates during program delivery. These program standards for secondary unified have been adopted by the state board of education, but it is too soon for any institution to have developed and submitted a program for approval at this point in time. Therefore, as these programs are developed, approved and start accepting candidates, final testing requirements will be determined and presented to the state board of education for approval.
4A: Special Education Content Knowledge
Generic K-12 special education licenses are inappropriate for teachers of high-incidence special education students. Too many states do not distinguish between elementary and secondary special education teachers, certifying all such teachers under a generic K-12 special education license. While this broad umbrella may be appropriate for teachers of low-incidence special education students, such as those with severe cognitive disabilities, it is deeply problematic for high-incidence special education students, who are expected to learn grade-level content. And because the overwhelming majority of special education students are in the high-incidence category, the result is a fundamentally broken system.
Special education teachers teach content and therefore must know content. While special educators should be valued for their critical role in working with students with disabilities and special needs, each state identifies them not as "special education assistants" but as "special education teachers," presumably because it expects them to provide instruction. Inclusion models, where special education students receive instruction from a general education teacher paired with a special education teacher to provide instructional support, do not mitigate the need for special education teachers to know content. Providing instruction to children who have special needs requires knowledge of both effective learning strategies and the subject matter at hand. Failure to ensure that teachers are well trained in content areas—presumably through subject matter licensing tests—deprives special education students of the opportunity to reach their academic potential.