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Special Education Licensing Overview


he Special Education Licensing Program is a 21-credit sequence of coursework and practical experience designed to prepare the participant for a Vermont State special educator endorsement. The program is open to classroom teachers, paraprofessionals with a teaching degree and licensed teachers working outside the classroom.

New cohorts begin every summer. Each cohort is affiliated with Castleton State College. Individual courses are open with instructor permission.

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Application and Admission Requirements

  • Applicants must have a current Vermont teaching license
  • Applicants must have a school site at which they can conduct the applied course practicum activities
  • For peer review candidates, applicants must have a BA, three years of public school experience, and permission from the VT-HEC Coordinator

For questions or to request application materials, contact Joy Wilcox at [email protected]

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Sequence of Courses and Course Descriptions

The 21 credit sequence of graduate level courses includes 6 content courses and a 3 credit internship. This is a recommended sequence, however courses may be taken out of sequence with the exception of the internship which is done in the second year.

These courses are designed to meet the competencies for licensure for special educator in Vermont.

History, Legal Issues, and Support Systems in Special Education

(Early Summer of 1st Year) This course will explore the historical and current trends in treatment of individuals with disabilities, including the effects of litigation, legislation, economic consideration in education, career education, and residential service delivery systems. This course will also address the role of the special educator and the basis of special education practice in the public school formed by required special education processes, current models and theories. Specifically this course will address the following themes:

  • Current issues in the fields of general education and special education including ethical and legal requirements of the six major principles of the IDEA.
  • Role, including all legal responsibilities, of the special education case manager when working with students with disabilities in a public school.
  • Legal procedures governing referral, evaluation, eligibility determination, program planning, related services and the continuum of placements for students with disabilities.
  • Federal and state regulations promoting involvement, participation and support of the student, family and classroom teacher in the special education process, including interagency relationships.
  • Goals of VT’s Act 117 and the role of special education and Section 504 in the Educational Support System of the public school.
  • Cultural and ethical issues surrounding a student with disabilities within the family and community environments, including the concepts of self-determination and self-advocacy.


Special Education Assessment

(Fall of 1st Year) This course has been designed to help special education graduate students gain some of the critical assessment skills and knowledge they will need to be successful special education professionals. Determination of special education eligibility will provide a central focus for the course and will be organized around three course themes: 1) legal issues in assessment, 2) assessment instruments, procedures and practices, and 3) communication of assessment results. More broadly, students will learn the rules and regulations that drive their professional responsibilities relative to assessment, learn how to select and administer standardized tests accurately and ethically, and will become competent at leading the comprehensive evaluation process resulting in a comprehensive evaluation plan and report.

Meeting the Instructional Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities: PreK-6 (LD 1) ADD

(Spring – End of 1st Year)This course is designed to help participants identify learning disabled and at-risk students, gain some of the critical assessment skills necessary to evaluate students’ development and strengths and weaknesses, and use this information to design appropriate instruction and supports for these students.

Course in Depth:

This course addresses the development of early literacy and numeracy dispositions and skills for children with disabilities. The following content knowledge is addressed:

  • Individual Learning Differences: a) students will develop an understanding of various theories of early literacy, numeracy, and current research-based practices for the purpose of planning and delivering effective instruction designing lesson plans for learners with a range of individual differences, including cultural and linguistic difference; b) students will design a early literacy or numeracy curriculum-based assessment tool for the purpose of assessing individual student needs in reading, writing and mathematics.
  • Instructional Strategies a) students design standards-based lesson plans for elementary/middle level learners eligible for special education incorporating literacy and numeracy strategies in inclusive general education settings.
  • Learning Environments and Social Interactions a) students learn the responsive teaching model related to literacy and numeracy in the context of teaching and learning in culturally responsive elementary/middle learning environments that value diversity and encourage student independence and self-motivation.
  • Language: a) students learn about early language development the five components of early reading, the process approach to written language development, assistive technology, supporting ELL students with disabilities, early literacy and numeracy strategies, explicit instruction, and scaffold differentiated instruction in inclusive elementary/middle level general education settings.
  • Instructional Planning: a) students develop lesson plans and instructional projects with goals, objectives, performance levels, teaching procedures and measurement that include literacy and numeracy strategies to meet the basic skill needs of students with disabilities.
  • Assessment: a) students learn how to gather assessment information through designing curriculum-based assessments in early reading, writing and mathematics.
  • Collaboration: a) students learn and apply the elements of collaborative teaming; b) students practice the elements of collaboration when working in small groups to understand content knowledge and complete class projects. Throughout the course students will collaborate and reflect upon their work as they plan literacy and numeracy instruction for students with disabilities at the elementary level.


Meeting the Instructional Needs of All Students: Moderate to Severe Disabilities

(Late June) The focus of this course is to provide participants with the necessary components to create an effective school program for students with moderate to severe needs. Emphasis will be placed on choosing and utilizing appropriate assessments procedures, utilizing structured teaching strategies, creating individual educational programs, and collaboration in the general education setting. This course will look at all areas of development for children with moderate to severe disabilities including: cognitive, motor, social, communication, safety, domestic living, recreation/leisure.

Meeting the Instructional Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities: Adolescents (LDII) ADD

(Spring) This course is designed to help participants identify learning disabled and at-risk students at the middle and secondary level, gain some of the critical assessment skills necessary to evaluate students’ development and strengths and weaknesses, and use this information to design appropriate instruction and supports for these students.

Emotional/Behavioral Issues in Special Education

(Fall of 2nd Year) Students will learn to develop and implement systemic and proactive procedures that address problem behavior in the building, classroom and individual student levels. Emphasis on creating or modifying learning environments and interactions that promotes social and academic achievement. Students will be required to perform a full functional behavior plan as part of this course requirement.

Special Education Internship

(Fall and Spring of 2nd Year) The internship experience is competency based, reinforcing course content as well as exposing the intern to important experiences and opportunities to ensure development and implementation of effective programs for learners eligible for special education services. Interns receive direction, guidance, and direct feedback from a field-based mentor as well as a VT-HEC/Spec Ed supervisor. Together they design an individual student plan, based on a self-assessment plan (SAP), to track obtained competencies and set goals for identified needs. Along with formative evaluation based on direct observation of intern’s performance, summative evaluation in the form of grades on internship products will be provided by VT-HEC Supervisors.

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