A new $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education positions the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education to address this critical shortage locally by providing scholarships for aspiring and current teachers to serve and meet the needs of students with significant disabilities.
Teacher Education Programs in Inclusive/Special Education/Teaching Students with Disabilities
At the Warner School, a core belief in all our teacher education programs is that all teachers should be prepared to recognize the diverse needs of their students and they should have strategies to differentiate instruction so as to meet those needs. We believe that all students bring rich and meaningful experiences to school and that those experiences are resources for effective teaching, engagement, and inclusion.
For our inclusive and special education teacher candidates, there is rigorous preparation as teachers who will have the knowledge and skills to teach students who engage in learning in diverse ways in order to facilitate the learning, participation, and belonging of students with disabilities in general education contexts. Fundamental principles of our approach to inclusive practices and students with disability labels include:
Critical inquiry: A primary goal of all our inclusive/special education teacher preparation programs is to prepare teachers, through critically examining historical, cultural, legal, political, and theoretical foundations of schooling and constructs of disabilities, to develop a rich understanding of teaching practices that facilitates the involvement and progress of students with disabilities in general education, standards-based curriculum in general education contexts. Approaching our work from a Disability Studies in Education perspective, our program is firmly rooted in the notion that inclusive practice is a best practice in education.
Collaboration: We seek to prepare educators for collaborative efforts among schools, families, and communities to provide students and teachers with the necessary supports and services. They understand how to engage in models of collaborative teaming and relationships with their colleagues and to develop the communication skills to engage in effective partnerships with families.
Advocacy: We advocate for the full inclusion of all students, particularly students with disabilities, as part of efforts to reform schools. We provide opportunities for teachers and teacher candidates to critically examine policies and practices that have fostered and maintained segregation through service delivery and placement options for students with disabilities, resulting in a dual system of education. Based on these opportunities, we then focus on promising practices in inclusive general education contexts.
Equity: Through coursework and experiences in the field, our graduates are able to choose and implement appropriate teaching and learning strategies for all students in the classroom. They are able to identify systemic structures that impede student learning and possess a repertoire of skills to break down those barriers. We focus on best practices for inclusive schooling that are research-based. We prepare teachers to understand how people learn, and, through strength-based assessments, to determine how to differentiate, adapt, and individualize instruction through principles of Universal Design for Learning. Our program also focuses on positive behavior supports to address student and classroom management needs, assistive technology, and transition planning for secondary students.
Depending on the context you would like to teach in, and the credentials you may have already obtained, you may choose among the program options listed below to best meet your career goals and situation.
Non-certification program for inclusive/special education:
This program has been designed for individuals who are not interested in obtaining or eligible to obtain New York State (NYS) teaching certification – as they are planning to teach students with disabilities in international, private or charter schools, or other informal learning settings, such as camps, clubs, or after-school programs. As such, this option does not include field experiences or student teaching, and has more flexibility in terms of curriculum and electives.
Programs leading to NYS certification in inclusive/special education:
The Warner School offers opportunities for students who want to pursue NYS certification for Teaching Students with Disabilities – at the early childhood (birth to grade 2), childhood/elementary (grades 1-6) and adolescence/secondary generalist (grades 7-12) levels – in a variety of ways, depending on your career objectives and prior preparation and certifications. We also offer additional coursework and field experiences as needed for special education teachers to obtain the NYS annotation for Teaching Students with Severe and/or Multiple Disabilities.
A key highlight of our inclusive/special education teacher preparation programs leading to NYS certification is how our faculty integrate urban education into the whole curriculum. We make it a part of every course so that students are equipped and prepared to work in all schools—particularly in some of our most underserved school districts where there is a shortage of high-quality and innovative teachers.
Select the option that best matches your situation:
Programs seeking NYS certification in teaching students with disabilities as their first certification:
MS leading to a new area of certification (look under the teacher preparation program in your chosen area of specialization)
Prerequisites for students seeking NYS certification
Any program leading to NYS certification requires the GRE exam or the Miller Analogies exam and a 3.0 GPA, effective fall 2016. Prerequisites for entry-level teachers teaching special education/inclusion vary by level and specialty, but generally include a bachelor’s degree with a major in liberal arts or science, one course in a language other than English (or equivalent), and for students seeking certification at the secondary level, six credit hours each in college-level English language arts, math, science, and social studies. Students seeking dual certification at the secondary level as subject specialists will also need to have completed the necessary coursework in the subject of specialization (typically 30 credits). Please check the detailed program of study for the program you are considering for specific prerequisites and other requirements for certification. If you have questions as to whether you have the prerequisites to enter the program, please contact the Admissions Office.
We expect students entering our teacher preparation programs to have already fulfilled these prerequisites. If this is not the case, you may still be allowed to enter our programs at the discretion of your advisor; you will, however, have to take the needed coursework before the end of the program in order to be recommended for certification to the New York State Education Department. Some subject matter courses taken at the graduate level can be used as electives in a master's program, provided that they are taken at the graduate level and have been approved by your advisor as part of your program of study.
The Warner School strongly recommends that you pass the appropriate Content Specialty Test (CST) in the discipline in which you are pursuing a base certification before you begin student teaching. Not doing so may place your student teaching placement in jeopardy.