Skip to main content

Initial Special Education Preparation Standards

Standards book with post-it notes

About Our Initial Preparation Standards

Initial Special Education Preparation Standards

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)’s performance-based Initial Preparation Standards define what a candidate must know and be able to do to begin teaching. A high-quality preparation program that prepares candidates to meet these standards must provide, at a minimum, the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Sufficient opportunities to develop and demonstrate appropriate pedagogical skills including extensive field experiences and clinical practice
  • Preparation in core academic subject areas

In addition, CEC expects that professional special educators in new positions undergo a systematic and structured discipline-specific period of induction, which is often the responsibility of the state or school district.

Initial Preparation Standards

Initial Preparation Standard 1:  Learner Development and Individual Learning Differences
1.0 Beginning special education professionals understand how exceptionalities may interact with development and learning and use this knowledge to provide meaningful and challenging learning experiences for individuals with exceptionalities.

Key Elements

1.1 Beginning special education professionals understand how language, culture, and family background influence the learning of individuals with exceptionalities.
1.2 Beginning special education professionals use understanding of development and individual differences to respond to the needs of individuals with exceptionalities.

 

Initial Preparation Standard 2: Learning Environments
2.0 Beginning special education professionals create safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning environments so that individuals with exceptionalities become active and effective learners and develop emotional well being, positive social interactions, and self-determination.

Key Elements

2.1 Beginning special education professionals, through collaboration with general educators and other colleagues, create safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning environments to engage individuals with exceptionalities in meaningful learning activities and social interactions.
2.2 Beginning special education professionals use motivational and instructional interventions to teach individuals with exceptionalities how to adapt to different environments.
2.3 Beginning special education professionals know how to intervene safely and appropriately with individuals with exceptionalities in crisis.

 

Initial Preparation Standard 3: Curricular Content Knowledge
3.0 Beginning special education professionals use knowledge of general and specialized curricula to individualize learning for individuals with exceptionalities.

Key Elements

3.1 Beginning special education professionals understand the central concepts, structures of the discipline, and tools of inquiry of the content areas they teach, and can organize this knowledge, integrate cross-disciplinary skills, and develop meaningful learning progressions for individuals with exceptionalities.
3.2 Beginning special education professionals understand and use general and specialized content knowledge for teaching across curricular content areas to individualize learning for individuals with exceptionalities.
3.3 Beginning special education professionals modify general and specialized curricula to make them accessible to individuals with exceptionalities.

 

Initial Preparation Standard 4: Assessment
4.0 Beginning special education professionals use multiple methods of assessment and data sources in making educational decisions.

Key Elements

4.1 Beginning special education professionals select and use technically sound formal and informal assessments that minimize bias.
4.2 Beginning special education professionals use knowledge of measurement principles and practices to interpret assessment results and guide educational decisions for individuals with exceptionalities.
4.3 Beginning special education professionals, in collaboration with colleagues and families, use multiple types of assessment information in making decisions about individuals with exceptionalities.
4.4 Beginning special education professionals engage individuals with exceptionalities to work toward quality learning and performance and provide feedback to guide them.

 

Initial Preparation Standard 5: Instructional Planning and Strategies
5.0 Beginning special education professionals select, adapt, and use a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to advance learning of individuals with exceptionalities.

Key Elements

5.1 Beginning special education professionals consider individual abilities, interests, learning environments, and cultural and linguistic factors in the selection, development, and adaptation of learning experiences for individuals with exceptionalities.
5.2 Beginning special education professionals use technologies to support instructional assessment, planning, and delivery for individuals with exceptionalities.
5.3 Beginning special education professionals are familiar with augmentative and alternative communication systems and a variety of assistive technologies to support the communication and learning of individuals with exceptionalities.
5.4 Beginning special education professionals use strategies to enhance language development and communication skills of individuals with exceptionalities.
5.5 Beginning special education professionals develop and implement a variety of education and transition plans for individuals with exceptionalities across a wide range of settings and different learning experiences in collaboration with individuals, families, and teams. 
5.6 Beginning special education professionals teach to mastery and promote generalization of learning.
5.7 Beginning special education professionals teach cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills such as critical thinking and problem solving to individuals with exceptionalities.

 

Initial Preparation Standard 6: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice
6.0 Beginning special education professionals use foundational knowledge of the field and their professional ethical principles and practice standards to inform special education practice, to engage in lifelong learning, and to advance the profession.

Key Elements

6.1 Beginning special education professionals use professional ethical principles and professional practice standards to guide their practice.
6.2 Beginning special education professionals understand how foundational knowledge and current issues influence professional practice.
6.3 Beginning special education professionals understand that diversity is a part of families, cultures, and schools, and that complex human issues can interact with the delivery of special education services.
6.4 Beginning special education professionals understand the significance of lifelong learning and participate in professional activities and learning communities.
6.5 Beginning special education professionals advance the profession by engaging in activities such as advocacy and mentoring. 
6.6 Beginning special education professionals provide guidance and direction to paraeducators, tutors, and volunteers.

 

Initial Preparation Standard 7: Collaboration
7.0 Beginning special education professionals collaborate with families, other educators, related service providers, individuals with exceptionalities, and personnel from community agencies in culturally responsive ways to address the needs of individuals with exceptionalities across a range of learning experiences.

Key Elements

7.1 Beginning special education professionals use the theory and elements of effective collaboration. 
7.2 Beginning special education professionals serve as a collaborative resource to colleagues.
7.3 Beginning special education professionals use collaboration to promote the well being of individuals with exceptionalities across a wide range of settings and collaborators.

 

Download the Initial Preparation Standards

Download the Initial Preparation Standards with full research explanations.

© 2020 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). All rights reserved