Special Education Credential

The Special Education Credential curriculum prepares educators to recognize and respond to the individual differences among students with special education needs. Upon completion of this program, students earn an Education Specialist Credential in Mild/Moderate Disabilities.

This program is available as an add-on to our Master of Arts in Teaching program, and it does require the completion of additional coursework. California credentialed educators can take the Special Education Credential independently of our advanced degree programs.

Programs of Study

Master of Arts in Teaching students can add the Special Education Credential to their program. Students will complete an additional 15 units of coursework, including an additional term of Guided Practice. Educators who are not enrolled in a USC Rossier graduate program but wish to pursue a Special Education Credential can do so if they hold a California teaching credential.

This credential program requires 15 units of coursework:

  • Introduction to Special Education

    This course is designed to enhance teachers' understanding of how to educate students with disabilities and the rationale for including students with disabilities into effective and appropriate educational settings. The course will address legal requirements, introduce diagnostic / prescriptive teaching, and examine the necessary components for establishing an inclusive classroom. Course participants will conduct observations of children with disabilities in their learning environments.

  • Collaboration, Families and Case Management

    At the heart of service delivery for students who present complex learning and behavior challenges is collaboration among those who are charged with the delivery of those services. While the teacher is in the forefront of implementing educational plans, support services personnel, e.g. physical/occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, school psychologists, social workers, behavior specialists and others, are often contributors to the students' intervention plan. Specifically, the course focuses on collaboration between a teacher and the families (s)he serves and collaboration among the various professionals who are collectively responsible for the educational well-being of the student. 
Providing educational services to children with disabilities is often challenging and it involves other interested parties. To successfully plan, implement and evaluate an educational plan, a teacher must be an effective collaborator with support services providers and families, and be a case manager. To this end, the course explores strategies that enable teachers to more sensitively communicate with families in ways that fosters collaboration and empowerment. Potential interventions for family support are also reviewed.

  • Assessment and Curriculum for Students with Disabilities

    This course is intended to link two essential components for developing effective educational interventions for students with disabilities: assessment and curriculum management. 
Specifically, the purpose of this course is twofold. First, the teacher education candidate will learn how to use currently employed assessment materials and strategies for assessing and evaluating educational progress. Second, they will become skilled at developing strategies for adapting curriculum to the multifaceted needs of special education learners.

  • Establishing and Maintaining an Effective Classroom Ecology

    This course is designed to provide teachers an understanding of how environmental and personal factors intersect and can, at times, negatively affect the achievement of students with disabilities. The course will cover the relationship between certain disability characteristics, including Autism Spectrum disorders, and various environmental factors whose end product is behavior that constrains student learning. Included in the course is the expectation that students will conduct observations of students with disabilities in their learning environments.

  • Guided Practice Mild to Moderate Disabilities

    This course provides participants with the opportunities to translate theory into classroom application in order to gain an understanding of the teaching-learning process in the special education context. Participants will apply learning theories, content knowledge and the pedagogical repertoire of skills acquired in the MAT/ME general education courses and specific special education courses. These articulated courses provide the basis for decision-making that positively affects student learning. 
The course provides candidates experience working in K-12 classrooms serving students who are typically developing and with students who are diagnosed with mild to moderate disabilities. Candidates engage in planning, implementing and evaluating effective educational practices under the supervision of a university supervisor, a teacher credentialed in general education, and a credentialed special education mentor teacher. Special education teacher candidates (TCs) must placed in settings where they are engage in the IEP process in collaboration with families, support services professionals, and general education teachers. Particular emphasis is given to experiences that help increase special education students' overall effectiveness as their teachers in the inclusion setting addresses the needs of all students and their families in a culturally responsive student-centered professional manner.

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