What is special education?
Special Education consists of specially designed instruction and related services necessary to meet the unique needs of students whose educational needs cannot be met by simply modifying the regular instructional program. Special Education provides a full range of program options and its goal is to meet, in the least restrictive environment, the educational and service needs of individuals with exceptional needs. Special Education is legally defined in California by Section 56031 of the California Education Code. There is a critical shortage of special educators who teach students with low-incidence, mild/moderate, and moderate/severe disabilities.
What do special educators do?
You can read about the role of special educators or watch a video. To learn even more, select a video in the “Watch a Video” section to the right and watch video interviews of special education teachers who have different specialty areas.
Is becoming a special educator the right career choice for me?
Getting experience in a special needs setting as a paraeducator or through service learning can be a good start to a career. Take the time to find out where special education teachers work , the kind of pay you can expect, and the requirements for becoming a credentialed special educator.
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Learn more about the opportunities in special education!
There are a variety of career opportunities available in special education. Special education teachers , early childhood special educators , and special education administrators are careers that require a credential. Paraeducators , physical therapists , interpreters for students who are deaf or hard of hearing , speech and language pathologists , and speech and language assistants require professional certification.
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are in very high demand in all settings. SLPs provide services to children with a wide variety of communication disorders. California has masters degree speech-language pathology programs including one university distance learning program. Additional university programs along with new internship programs are currently under development. Public schools typically utilize a state Commission on Teacher Credentialing credential in speech-language pathology but public schools are also authorized to utilize state licensed SLPs. Both the license and the credential require a masters degree and a national written exam with a nine-month monitored first year experience. There are also AA degree Speech-Language Pathology Assistant programs leading to a license as a SLP assistant. SLP assistants work under the indirect supervision of a licensed or credentialed speech-language pathologist.
There is also a shortage of school psychologists. Trained in psychology and education, school psychologists work in many ways with students, teachers, and parents to create the best learning environment. California public schools require school psychologists obtain a pupil personnel services credential which is received after successful completion of approved traditional and intern programs. The California Association of School Psychologists (CASP) provides ongoing support for California's school psychologists, while additional resources for psychologists, parents and educators can be found online.
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