Our Special Education certification curriculum is designed for general educators who wish to meet the demands of educating students with special needs in a variety of school environments. Courses combine research-based theory with practice, and you will have the ability to apply the skills you have developed immediately in your career. In order to pursue this certification, you must already have a standard/Level 1 certifications in Early Childhood Development, Elementary Education, or Secondary Education.
You can earn your MS in Education - Special Education by completing just nine more credit hours.
Special Education Certification Courses (Required)
SPE 600 Foundations and Current Issues in Special Education
3 credits. This course is a critical study of the contemporary and controversial issues within the field of special education. Consideration will be given to the philosophical, psychological, and sociological basis of teacher education, including an analytical review of research-based curricula, programmatic innovations, policy issues and their effects, and ethical practices. Discussions will focus on evidence-based core concepts that contribute to effective program planning; investigation of cognitive, academic, behavioral, and psycho-social solutions and implications for those working with exceptional students; and future implications for the advancement of special education diagnostic and instructional services.
SPE 602 Diagnostic Assessment and Progress Monitoring
3 credits. This course will provide an in-depth presentation of the complex issue of assessment, including an examination of evaluation procedures, from pre-referral intervention, eligibility/placement/program decision-making to progress monitoring of scientifically based instructional interventions based on Response to Influence and Intervention (RtII). Focus will include academic, affective, work-study skill, adaptive functioning, fine motor, and environmental measures. Content coverage will consist of an overview of assessment models including traditional, informal, dynamic, performance, curriculum-based, and alternative techniques. Additional course topics will address legislation, regulations, topical issues, emerging evaluation trends, test modifications/accommodations, parent involvement, and assessment/progress reporting.
SPE 603 Theory and Instructional Practice: Students with High Incidence Disabilities
3 credits. This course is a comprehensive study of theoretical issues and research-based diagnosis, instructional planning and programmatic organization of instruction for children with learning problems. Content will cover curriculum design, development of programs of differential instruction involving evidence-based interventions that meet students' needs based on formative assessment, developmental and educational information; integrated learning experiences; specialized adaptations and resources; practices and procedures validated for specific characteristics of learners and settings; prevention and intervention strategies from multiple theoretical approaches for individuals at-risk for academic or behavioral failure; systematic implementation of instructional variables; and systems management necessary for effective instruction of children with disabilities. Focus will also be given to the development and implementation of differentiated curriculum and curricular enhancements, and concepts and teaching practices related to the development and implementation of effective instructional programs for students with high incidence disabilities.
SPE 604 Research-based Models and Procedures: Literacy, Written and Oral Language, and Reading in the Content Areas
3 credits. This course will focus on the development of competency in the implementation of explicit and systematic evidence-based instructional strategies designed to teach accuracy, fluency, comprehension, and monitoring strategies in literacy and content area reading to students with disabilities, including exceptional children in regular classroom, with emphasis on applying findings from research in reading to classroom practices, including children who are linguistically and culturally diverse. Content will include diagnostic-prescriptive techniques for remediation of reading and written language and associated learning disabilities.
SPE 605 Research-based Models and Procedures: Mathematics and Science Procedures
3 credits. This course will focus on the development of competency in the implementation of explicit and systematic evidence-based instructional strategies designed to teach mathematics and content area subjects, including science and social studies. A study of theory and practice of effective teaching methodologies, combined with principles of differentiated instruction. Attention will be on teaching models and methods supported by research and emphasis will be placed on development of effective teaching procedures.
SPE 606 Theory and Instructional Practice: Students with Emotional/Social and Behavioral Disorders
3 credits. This course covers personal, social, and emotional disorders in an educational setting, including methods of identification, assessment, and instructional planning; develops skills in effective classroom management and creating classroom climate conducive to learning and growth. It also provides comprehensive coverage of a variety of models of disciplines and aids students in building systems and conceptual models of total discipline, emphasizing activities promoting pupil motivation and classroom management and organization of the environment, instruction, behavior, and record keeping.
SPE 607 Theory and Instructional Practice: Students with Low Incidence Disabilities
3 credits. This course addresses the definitions, characteristics, assessment, and specific techniques for students needing adaptive and functional curriculum. Characteristics are addressed in relation to why and how specialized instruction can meet the learning and developmental needs of these individuals, specifically in the areas of instruction, assistive learning, and language-communication. This will include research validated instructional strategies, adaptive and assistive technologies including, augmentative communication systems, and communication and social interaction alternatives for non-speaking individuals. In addition, the course reviews behaviorally based educational models for students with autism and other moderate and severe disabilities, and presents methods aimed at enhancing functional skill development in major life domains, with emphasis on community-based training and self-determination.
SPE 608 Families, Schools, and Communities: Communication and Collaboration
3 credits. This course focuses on the home-school partnerships, issues of family and professional collaboration and diversity, and methods of promoting adult communication and management strategies. It applies the knowledge of cultural and linguistic diversity and the significance of socio-cultural and political contexts as they relate to the family, culture, and society. It identifies the members of teams designed to support and optimize children’s educational needs and social-emotional development and the network of community services and resources available to individuals, families and groups affected by social, environmental, health and related problems.
Student Teaching Course - Based on your Current Certification (Choose 1)
SPE 638 Inclusive Classroom Practice and Student/Intern Teaching PK-8
3 credits. The focus of this course is on the developing of skills dealing with effective inclusive classroom management and creating classroom climates conducive to student achievement. It provides comprehensive coverage of a variety of discipline models to aid candidates in building systems and conceptual models of total discipline based on their underlying theories; emphasizes activities promoting positive behavioral supports; increases pupil motivation; applies methods for establishing cooperative classroom routines, procedures, and practices; organizes the environment, including school wide, classroom, and individual supports; measures and reports progress.
This course of study will focus on the unique needs of students in grades K-8 as well as the development of proactive approaches to classroom and school environments. This will enable teachers to increase the amount of academic learning time in which to address the needs of all students in inclusive classrooms to increase achievement. In addition, the course study will include a focus on understanding how behaviors are influenced by pedagogical practices.
SPE 639 Inclusive Classroom Practice and Student/Intern Teaching 7-12
3 credits. The focus of this course is on the developing of skills dealing with effective inclusive classroom management and creating classroom climate conducive to student achievement. It provides comprehensive coverage of a variety of discipline models to aid candidates in building systems and conceptual models of total discipline based on their underlying theories; emphasizes activities promoting positive behavioral supports; increases pupil motivation; applies methods for establishing cooperative classroom routines, procedures, and practices; organizes the environment, including school wide, classroom, and individual supports; measures and reports progress.
This course of study will focus on the unique needs of students in grades 7 through 12. Course study will include a focus on understanding how adolescent behaviors are influences by pedagogical practices and classroom environments. While general education curriculum is appropriate for the majority of students with disabilities, secondary learners who are at-risk for academic and behavioral failure, including those with disabilities, have specific learning and behavioral characteristics that can undermine progress through general education curriculum. Course content will include a careful analysis of the specific needs of intermediate and secondary aged learners, including slower rates of acquiring information and skills, deficits in the ability to generalize learned skills to other settings or conditions, and a lack of ability to retain skills, all of which directly influence student behavior. Furthermore, course study will focus on the unique psychosocial problems of adolescents, social and interpersonal skill training priorities of young adults, classroom management and motivational strategies for adolescents, and validated learning strategies for adolescents and young adults.
NOTE: Courses are in alpha-numeric order, not necessarily the order in which they are taken, and are subject to change. Please speak with an Program Manager for a course map.
SPE 638 and SPE 639 include a student teaching component. The Pennsylvania Department of Education requires a Special Education student teaching experience for those individuals who currently hold a general education teaching certificate and are seeking Special Education certification. Students will spend a minimum of 140 hours in a supervised teaching situation. In order to be prepared for this experience, students need to be aware of the following before registering for the course:
- You are expected to complete a student teaching application.
- You will locate potential student teaching sites in your local area and submit a request for your student teaching placement(s) to the Office of Student Teaching.
- You will seek permission from the school administration to allow the 4-week student teaching experience.
- The SJU Student Teaching Liaison will approve a school administrator to serve as your student teacher supervisor.
- If you are currently teaching, you may be permitted to student teach at your own school with permission of the SJU course instructor and the school administration.
- The experience requires 140 hours (equal to four 35-hour weeks) of hands-on teaching with students who have IEPs. At least 10 percent of the class should be students with IEPs.
- It is suggested that the 140 hours occur during the second half of the course, but possible arrangements can be made to complete the hours at different times during the semester. Time in the classroom may be spread out over more than 4 weeks, but must equal 140 hours.
- Small group instruction is permitted as long as the same small group is provided consistent attention by the student teacher for the duration of the experience. Alternate placements will be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
- The class may be in a public (urban or suburban), private, charter, segregated special education, or parochial school.
- Student-teaching supervisors visit the classrooms and collaborate with the cooperating or mentor teacher(s) in supervising and evaluating the student or intern teacher. Two formal observations of the student teacher will be conducted.
Student Teaching and Field Experience
The PA Department of Education requires all teacher candidates to complete field experience competencies in certification programs. The Special Education Department at Saint Joseph’s University has designated activities in each course in the required curriculum to meet the state standards.
To learn more about the online Special Education certification from Saint Joseph’s University and what it can do for your career, call (866) 758-7670 to speak with a Program Manager, or you can request more information below, and we’ll reach out to you.