The state should ensure that special education teachers know the subject matter they will be required to teach.
Commendably, Maine does not offer a K-12 special education certification.
However, Maine does not ensure that its elementary special education teacher candidates are provided with a broad liberal arts program of study relevant to the elementary classroom. It also does not require that they pass the same subject-matter test as general education candidates.
Further, Maine fails to require that secondary special education teacher candidates are highly qualified in at least two subject areas, and it does not customize a HOUSSE route for new secondary special education teachers to help them achieve highly qualified status in all subjects they teach.
Rules for the Department of Education, Chapter 115, Part II, 2.1 Praxis Test Requirements www.ets.org
Provide a broad liberal arts program of study to elementary special education candidates, and require that they pass the same content test as general education teachers.
Maine should ensure that special education teacher candidates who will teach elementary grades possess knowledge of the subject matter at hand. Not only should the state require core-subject coursework relevant to the elementary classroom, but it should also require that these candidates pass the same subject-matter test required of all elementary teachers. Failure to ensure that teachers possess requisite content knowledge deprives special education students of the opportunity to reach their academic potential.
Ensure that secondary special education teacher candidates graduate with highly qualified status in at least two subjects, and customize a HOUSSE route so that they can achieve highly qualified status in all subjects they plan to teach.
To make secondary special education teacher candidates more flexible and better able to serve schools and students, Maine should use a combination of coursework and testing to ensure that they graduate with highly qualified status in two core academic areas. A customized HOUSSE route can also help new secondary special education teacher candidates to become highly qualified in multiple subjects by offering efficient means by which they could gain broad overviews of specific areas of content knowledge, such as content-driven university courses. Such a route is specifically permitted in the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Maine contended that once employed, elementary special education teachers must also pass the general elementary Praxis II as they work to meet HQ status. Some teachers use the HOUSSE rubric.
In addition, secondary special education teachers must also meet HQ requirements in the subjects they teach if they are the teacher of record for that subject.
To ensure that all special education students are being taught by teachers who have the requisite subject-matter knowledge, passage of a grade-level appropriate content test should be a condition of initial licensure.