2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that special education teachers know the subject matter they will be required to teach.
Commendably, as of January 1, 2013, Pennsylvania will no longer issue a K-12 special education certification.
Pennsylvania's new policy for elementary special education teacher candidates requires dual certification in one of the following: early childhood, elementary/middle or reading specialist. Regrettably, not all options offered by the state ensure that candidates are provided with a broad liberal arts program of study relevant to the elementary classroom, or that all candidates will be required to pass a content test, namely those who opt for a dual certification as a reading specialist.
Pennsylvania also 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.
Chapter 49-2 Final Form Regulations http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/chapter_49/8627/chapter_49-2_final_form_regulations/506814 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.
Pennsylvania 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 all 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, Pennsylvania 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).
Pennsylvania asserted that special education teachers must pass a content test as well as earn a special education certificate. Reading specialists are permitted to be special education teachers; however, the state contended that the reading specialist program is typically offered as a post-baccalaureate one to teachers who already hold initial teaching certificates. Therefore, these candidates would have already passed a content assessment.
Pennsylvania added that it does have a customized HOUSSE route for new secondary special education teachers.
It appears that Pennsylvania allows new secondary special education teachers to use its existing HOUSSE route. The state has not tailored one that specifically targets the unique needs of new teachers.