Special Education

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. new browser window icon There is a critical shortage of special educators who teach students with low-incidence, mild/moderate, and moderate/severe disabilities.

Who are special education students?
Special education students new browser window icon are students with disabilities who have an individualized education program (IEP new browser window icon) and receive special instruction and related services.

What do special educators do?
You can read about the role of special educators new browser window icon 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 new browser window icon or through service learning can be a good start to a career. Take the time to find out where special education teachers work new browser window icon, the kind of pay new browser window icon 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 new browser window icon available in special education. Special education teachers new browser window icon, early childhood special educators new browser window icon, and special education administrators new browser window icon are careers that require a credential. Paraeducators new browser window icon, physical therapists new browser window icon, interpreters for students who are deaf or hard of hearing new browser window icon, speech and language pathologists new browser window icon, and speech and language assistants new browser window icon require professional certification.

Speech-language pathologists new browser window icon (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 new browser window icon 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 new browser window icon in speech-language pathology but public schools are also authorized to utilize state licensed SLPs. new browser window icon 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 new browser window icon leading to a license as a SLP assistant. new browser window icon SLP assistants work under the indirect supervision of a licensed or credentialed speech-language pathologist.

There is also a shortage new browser window icon of school psychologists. new browser window icon Trained in psychology and education, school psychologists work in many ways new browser window icon with students, teachers, and parents to create the best learning environment. California public schools require school psychologists obtain a pupil personnel services credential new browser window icon which is received after successful completion of approved traditional new browser window icon and intern new browser window icon programs. The California Association of School Psychologists (CASP) new browser window icon provides ongoing support for California's school psychologists, while additional resources for psychologists, parents and educators can be found online. new browser window icon

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