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.
Although New Jersey offers a K-12 endorsement, it must be added to a general education license that restricts the grade level or subject
matter that can be taught.
However, holders of this special education endorsement may provide "consultative services and supportive resource programs, including supplemental instruction, modification and adaptation of curriculum and instruction to students with disabilities in general education programs in grades preschool through 12."
New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:9B-9.3(b)(6) and 6A:9B-11.4
Consider elementary and secondary specific endorsements for special education teachers.
Providing instruction to children who have special needs requires both knowledge of effective learning strategies and some knowledge of the subject matter at hand. Failure to ensure that teachers are well trained in content areas deprives special education students of the opportunity to reach their full academic potential. Further, while New Jersey has taken steps to distinguish between elementary teachers and secondary levels in terms of content knowledge, the K-12 endorsement would make it difficult to differentiate in pedagogy preparation. The broad K-12 umbrella may be appropriate for teachers of low-incidence special education students, such as those with severe cognitive disabilities, but it is problematic for the overwhelming majority of high-incidence special education students, who are expected to learn grade-level content.
New Jersey responded with a helpful question that resulted in our clarification of this goal. The state also noted that recent legislation now requires all programs for instructional certificates to include "6 semester credit hours of classroom instruction, clinical experience, including student internships, or a combination thereof, in special education."
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.