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.
South Carolina offers a PreK-12 special education certification. The state also has an early childhood special education endorsement to teach
grades PreK-3 that can be added to an existing early childhood,
elementary, or special education license.
South Carolina Code of Regulations 43
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. South Carolina—at the very least—should offer elementary and secondary special education licenses and require special education teachers to have the appropriate license for the grade level of students with whom they are working.
South Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. In addition, the state noted that a committee of subject area experts in the field of special education and in the preparation of teachers of special education reviewed South Carolina's categorical system of certifying special education teachers. This group, convened after a previous NCTQ policy analysis, evaluated the recommendation in light of research and the needs of South Carolina's P-12 students, schools, and districts. South Carolina stated that this team of experts did not recommend a grade or age-banded system of certifying special education teachers in the state.
NCTQ appreciates South Carolina's attention to the recommendations in prior iterations of the Yearbook and continues to find the research provided below regarding special education licensure deficiencies to be a compelling reason for maintaining these recommendations.
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.