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.
From our earliest days, we've recognized the critical role of standards in defining special education as a profession. In 1922, at its inaugural meeting, the founders of CEC identified the establishment of professional standards as one of the primary aims of the organization. We’ve embraced this responsibility and have been a leader among education associations in the development of Ethical Principles, Professional Practice Guidelines, and Preparation Standards for special educators.
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.
As the recognized leader for special education professional standards, we develop standards, ethics, practices, and guidelines to ensure that special educators are better prepared for successful, long-term careers.
- Initial Special Education Preparation
The Initial Special Education Preparation Standards are designed for programs that prepare beginning special educators for their careers in the field.
- Advanced Special Education Preparation
The Advanced Special Education Preparation Standards are designed for programs that help special educators progress in their teaching careers or pursue new roles within special education.
- Initial Gifted Educator Preparation Standards
The Initial Preparation Standards for Gifted Education Professionals define what a gifted educator must know and be able to do to begin teaching.
- Preparation for Advanced Gifted Education Roles
The Advanced Preparation Standards for Gifted Education Professionals lay out the knowledge and skills that teachers in gifted education should master as part of their preparation for advanced professional practice.
CEC 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 to those of the 2012 Standards, but the seven standard statements and the 23 component statements of the 2020 Standards 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 12th 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 8 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.
Ethics, Guidelines, Program Review, and More