Title: Workforce watch
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Title: Workforce watch
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Language: English
Creator: Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, College of Education, University of Florida
Publisher: Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, College of Education, University of Florida
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Making Sense of Licensure

What Research Says About Current Trends


Licensure refers to the credentials that
states or comparable jurisdictions is-
sue to qualified school personnel. Al-
though the history of teacher licensure
dates back to 1825, only in the latter
part of the 20th century has significant at-
tention been focused on the licensure of
special education teachers.
Today, differences exist in how states de-
fine and award licenses. At a time when
the profession is faced with significant
special education teacher shortages and
is considering alternative routes to certi-
fication, an understanding of the status
of special education licensure may help
inform discussions. Read on to gain in-
sights from the research.

Did You Know that State
Licensure Requirements Vary?
Sorting out licensure requirements can be
challenging. A review of the last 35 years
of research in special education teacher
licensure revealed several patterns of re-
quirements. For example, special educa-
tion licensure may be awarded by:
* Specific category of disability. The
exact titles of licenses (e.g., learning
disabilities) often vary considerably
from state to state. Some states offer
a generic special education license
as one of the categorical options.
* Non-categorical or cross-cate-
gorical approach. Some states of-


fer non-categorical licenses in areas
such as mild-moderate disabilities
(e.g., mental retardation, emotional
disturbance, specific learning dis-
ability). States with primarily non-cat-
egorical licensure can and usually do
have specialty endorsement areas for
certain types of disabilities or certain
types of personnel (e.g., early child-
hood special education).
SArea of emphasis according to
student age. Although many states
award K-12 or PreK-12 licenses,
some offer separate licenses at the
elementary and secondary levels.
Separate licenses in early childhood
special education are most common,
and may be further defined by specific
ages (e.g., birth through three). A few
states award licenses to secondary
transition specialists.
Requirements for licenses also vary from
state to state. Requirements tend to clus-
ter in the following areas:
* General education certification.
Some states require candidates to be
certified in either elementary or sec-
ondary education in addition to meet-
ing certification requirements in spe-
cial education.
* Assessment. States may require any
combination of the following: college
degree, completion of a state-approved
teacher education program, class-
room experience, and passage of


- Licensure requirements
vary across states-Do you
know how they differ?


FEBRUARY 2004
PB-1


STUDIES IN SPECIAL
EDUCATION








I = SPECIAL EDUCATION WORKFORCEWATC INSIGHTS FRO RESARC


examinations (e.g., basic
skills, specialty area, content
related to teaching). In some
cases, states may have ad-
ditional requirements, such
as a minimum grade point
average, satisfactory comple-
tion of specific courses, and
the demonstration of specific
competencies.

An analysis of research conducted
during the last 35 years indicated
the following special education li-
censure trends:
* Most states offer PreK-12 or K-
12 special education licensure.
Few offer licensure of second-
ary transition personnel.

* Visual impairment is the most
common categorical license.

* Increases were noted in the
number of states awarding
some form of categorical li-
cense in early childhood spe-
cial education. The number
of states awarding categorical
licenses in learning disabilities
increased during the first 25
years, but remained constant
during the last decade.

* The number of states award-
ing categorical special educa-
tion licenses increased. Also,
increases were found in the
number of states offering both
categorical and non-categori-
cal special education licenses.

* The number of states award-
ing licenses in physical dis-
abilities and mental retarda-
tion declined.


Do You Know the Status of
Current Special Education
Licensure Trends?

A comprehensive survey was con-
ducted in 2002 to update and ex-
pand upon the special education
licensure knowledge base. All 50


states and the District of Colum-
bia participated to some extent in
the survey. Findings revealed cur-
rent trends in the following areas:
* Licensure requirements in
flux. More than half of the
states reported that changes in
special education teacher li-
censure were underway.
* Use of national standards.
More than half of the states
indicated that the standards
promulgated by the Council
for Exceptional Children, Na-
tional Association of State Di-
rectors of Teacher Education
and Certification, and-to a
lesser degree-the National
Board for Professional Teach-
ing Standards had been con-
sulted when making changes
to licensure requirements.
* Basis for issuing licenses.
Most licenses require satisfac-
tory program completion at a
state-approved teacher prepa-
ration program. Completion of
specific courses and/or credit
hours within a state-approved
program curriculum are addi-
tional requirements in a major-
ity of states. A growing number
of states (about one-third) are
moving toward a demonstra-
tion of required competencies
in special education rather
than simply completion of
courses.

* Type of license. Most states
offer both categorical and
non-categorical licenses. In
general, categorical licenses
are aligned with the categories
of disabilities identified in the
Individual with Disabilities Edu-
cation Act (IDEA), and almost
all states have licenses in the
categories of hearing impaired
and visually impaired. Some
states award generic licenses
by level of disability (e.g., mild,
severe) and/or age (e.g., early
childhood).


* Assessment requirements
for licensure. Great varia-
tion exists from state to state.


Examples of
typical as-
sessments in-
clude degree,
designated
grade point
average,
standardized
test scores,
performance
assessments,
and assess-
ments of ba-
sic skills and
pedagogy.


A majority of
states require
some form of
special education
preparation-
standards to be
met, coursework,
etc.-for initial
general education
licenses as well as
for recertification.


For More Information
Information reported in this brief
was based on the COPSSE re-
search synthesis, The Status of
Licensure of Special Education
Teachers at the Beginning of
the 21t Century, by William L.
Geiger, Margaret D. Crutchfield,
and Richard Mainzer. The docu-
ment is available on the COPSSE
web site at www.copsse.org.

I. S CENTER ON
PERSONNEL
STUDIES IN SPECIAL
EDUCATION
About COPSSE
The Center on Personnel Studies in Spe-
cial Education is funded by the Office of
Special Education Programs of the U.S.
Department of Education [cooperative
agreement #H325Q000002]. COPSSE
research is designed to inform scholars
and policymakers about beginning teach-
er quality, effective initial preparation, and
the effects of preparation alternatives. The
Center is directed by Drs. Paul Sindelar
and Mary Brownell. The policy briefs were
produced by Warger, Eavy & Associates.
University of Florida, 300 Norman Hall,
PO. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611
352-392-0701 (X283), www.copsse.org

( do necessarily reflect the
Sviews ofheUS Department
fih- rhii of Education




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