Professional Preparation Standards
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)'s Professional Preparation Standards define the specialized expertise special educators must master for safe and effective practice.
These standards are used to inform preparation programs, accreditation organizations, and credentialing agencies. CEC has and continues to use a collaborative process that ensures that its standards are current, research-based, and designed to fully address the knowledge and skills special educators must master.
Special Education Professional Preparation Standards
The Initial and Advanced Special Education Preparation Standards define what special education professionals must know and be able to do to begin practice.
Gifted Education Professional Preparation Standards
The Initial and Advanced Preparation Standards for Gifted Education Professionals lay out the knowledge and skills that professionals in gifted education should master.
Initial Practice-Based Professional Preparation Standards for Early Interventionists/Early Childhood Special Educators (EI/ECSE)
Newly released in 2020, the Initial Special Education Preparation Standards are designed for programs that prepare beginning special educators for their careers in the field of Early Interventionists/Early Childhood Special Education. (See below for implementation timelines and more information)
Practice-Based Professional Preparation Program Standards
We also released two sets of CEC Standards for special educator preparation programs in July 2020. These standards establish a vision for what professionals do in practice to deliver effective instruction that improves the learning of children and youth with disabilities. Both of these Practice-Based Professional Preparation Program Standards are designed for candidates in their first special education preparation program at the bachelor’s, post-baccalaureate, or master’s level.
The standards include:
- 2020 Initial Practice-Based Professional Preparation Standards for Special Educators (Initial K-12 Standards)
This 2020 revision of the Initial K-12 Standards contains similar content categories of to those of the 2012 Standards, but the seven standard statements and the 23 component statements differ from the 2012 K-12 Standards. The focus of these standards has been narrowed to preparing educators who will be working with students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
- Initial Practice-Based Professional Preparation Standards for Early Interventionists/Early Childhood Special Educators (EI/ECSE)
The EI/ECSE Standards represent the first Standards to focus specifically on the preparation of early interventionists and early childhood special educators who work with young children ages birth through eight who have or are at-risk for developmental delays and disabilities and their families, across home, classroom and community settings.
CEC has submitted these standards to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) for inclusion in the specialized professional association (SPA) Program Review Process. Pending CAEP’s acceptance, they will become optional for use for reports submitted in spring 2021 and required in spring 2023 for use in the SPA Program Review Process.