Special Education Teacher Preparation (SETP)
The University of Pittsburgh, School of Education, offers a Special Education Teacher Preparation specialization to prepare special educators to teach children and youth with a range of disabilities and emphasizes educational needs rather than categorical labels. Individuals are prepared as teachers with eligibility for Pennsylvania Department of Education, PreK-8 Special Education certification or 7-12 Special Education certification. Teachers with either of these certificates may provide specialized support and instruction to eligible students with cognitive, behavior, physical, and/or health disabilities within the specified grade level range. This support and instruction may occur in a variety of settings, including special education classrooms and resource rooms, general education classrooms and settings, and the community. Special education teachers may also assist in the assessment and identification of students in need of special education services, coordinate the development and implementation of Individualized Education Programs, and collaborate with or provide consultative support to general educators.
These programs prepare teachers for the changing experience in public schools. There has been a significant increase in the occurrence of students with disabilities being “included” in the general education classroom. Legislation provides students with disabilities the rights of: access to; participation in; and progress in the general education curriculum. Given the higher incidence of students with disabilities in the general education classroom and the demands for standards-based curriculum for these students, Pennsylvania requires all Special Educators to also be certified and qualified to teach the general education population and curriculum. In that case, these programs accept previously certified elementary/secondary teachers and reading specialists and further their ability to teach a diverse student body effectively.
The required courses for the SETP PreK-8 and 7-12 programs are only offered on a full-time basis. Summer courses are held in the morning and afternoon and fall/spring courses are held in the late afternoon and evenings. Program participants are required to complete field-based assignments with children with disabilities. The School of Education Office of Placement Services and Clinical Practices will arrange field placements for students.
To be eligible for a special education teaching certificate, all students will also complete a full-time student teaching experience. This experience will be divided into two placements to ensure graduates have the skills to teach children with a variety of disabilities.
Upon completion of the certification program, students are eligible to apply for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Special Education PreK-8 instructional certification or the Special Education 7-12 instructional certification.
Applicants may choose to pursue the Master of Education (MEd) degree alongside their teaching certificate. The MEd program combines an additional 9 credits of graduate-level education coursework with the required certification courses according to requirements specific to each program. Several of the required MEd courses are offered in both face-to-face and on-line formats.