Special Education Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should distinguish between the preparation of elementary and secondary special education teachers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Unfortunately, in addition to grade-specific options (K-6 and 7-12), Nebraska offers a special education license to teach grades K-12.
The state also offers a special education early childhood education license to teach birth to kindergarten and an early childhood inclusive license to teach birth to grade three.
92 NAC 24.006.18; 57
End licensure practices that fail to distinguish between the skills and knowledge needed to teach elementary grades and secondary grades.
The broad K-12 umbrella is deeply problematic for the overwhelming majority of high-incidence special education students, who are expected to learn grade-level content. Nebraska should eliminate its K-12 license and rely on its elementary and secondary special education licenses thereby ensuring that special education teachers to have the appropriate license for the grade level of students with whom they are working.
Nebraska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. However, the state strongly asserted that it continues to disagree with NCTQ's analysis that does not recognize Nebraska's Guidelines to which all institutions are held accountable. Based on the NCTQ standard, the criteria used, and the standards for acceptable documentation, Nebraska concedes that the analysis is factually accurate.
4C: Special Education Licensure Deficiencies
Generic K-12 special education licenses are inappropriate for teachers of high-incidence special education students.
Too many states make no distinction 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.
It is virtually impossible and certainly impractical for states to ensure that a K-12 teacher knows all the subject matter he or she is expected to teach. Further, the issue is just as valid in terms of pedagogical knowledge. Teacher preparation and licensure for special education teachers must distinguish between elementary and secondary levels, as they do for general education. The current model does little to protect some of our most vulnerable students.