Standard 13: Preparation to Teach Special Populations (Students with Special Needs) in the General Education Classroom

Through planned prerequisites and/or professional preparation, the teacher preparation program ensures the following:

Candidates demonstrate a basic level of knowledge and skills in:  a) assessing the learning and language abilities of students in order to identify those needing referral for assessment, identification of disabilities and eligibility for  special education, Section 504 services, or  gifted and talented education programs; b) providing appropriate differentiated instruction that ensures  all students  access to the core curriculum; c) selecting and using appropriate instructional materials and technologies, including assistive technologies, to meet the needs of students with special needs  in the general education classroom;  and d)  identifying  when and how to address social integration needs of  students with disabilities  who are included in the general education classroom.

Candidates develop the basic knowledge, skills, strategies, and strengths-based approach for teaching the full range of students in the general education classroom, including all categories of special populations such as students with disabilities, students on behavior plans, and gifted and talented students.

Candidates learn about the role of the general education teacher in identifying and teaching students with special needs, as well as relevant state and federal laws pertaining to the education of exceptional populations and the general education teacher’s role and responsibilities in developing and implementing tiered interventions.

Candidates demonstrate skills in creating a positive, inclusive climate of instruction for all students with special needs in the general classroom and demonstrate skill in collaborative planning and instruction with education specialists and other school professionals. 

SPED 121 Teaching Students with Special Needs in the Secondary Education Setting is the course that mostly directly prepares candidates to work effectively with special populations. This course is taken concurrently with initial student teaching (EHD 155A) and many of the course assignments are carried out in the field. 

Assessment of language and learning needs.

Assessment of learning and language needs is addressed not only in the special education course but also in CI 159 Curriculum and Instruction and LEE 154 Content Area Language and Literacy Instruction. In the latter course, students learn how to informally assess students’ language and literacy development and how to interpret the results of formal assessments such as the California English Language Development Test. In CI 159, the general methods course, students learn about a variety of assessment methods, especially imbedded assessments. One of the assignments in this class is to design an assessment for a sequence of instruction and to modify it to meet the needs of selected students with special needs.  The special education course also helps students to be aware of alternative assessment strategies that may be more appropriate for special needs learners than some of the more traditional techniques. 

Identifying students needing referrals.

SPED 121 (the special education course) examines common characteristics of students who fall within the major disability categories including the following: 

  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Speech or language impairments
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Autism
  • Mental retardation, including severe and multiple disabilities
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Hearing impairments, including deafness
  • Visual impairments, including blindness
  • Other health impairments

In CI 152 Psychological Foundations of Education, one of seven major course goals is to look at variations in children’s performance related to various differences, including those imposed by handicapping conditions.  Candidates read a chapter from an educational psychology textbook which includes a discussion of categories of disabilities. [See syllabi for SPED 121 and CI 152.]

Differentiating instruction.

All of the methods courses assist students in developing the skills to plan and deliver differentiated instruction. The special education course (SPED 121) has as one of its major goals teaching candidates to modify materials and teaching strategies to meet the needs of exceptional students.

Beyond what is learned in SPED 121 Teaching Students with Special Needs in the General Secondary Education Setting, candidates also learn about selecting materials, technologies, and teaching strategies for all students, including special populations, in their general methods course (CI 159), their subject-specific methods course (CI 161) and their language and literacy course (LEE 154). For example, one of the objectives of CI 159 Curriculum and Instruction in Secondary Schools is to identify and describe appropriate strategies for meeting the needs of cognitively, culturally, and linguistically diverse learners in the heterogeneous classroom by including such strategies in model lessons and instructional plans and by discussing their importance in lesson reflections.  [See CI 159 syllabus]. In their subject-specific methods courses, students develop one or more units of instruction that meet the needs of a diversity of students. In developing units, students select materials, technologies, and teaching strategies. In LEE 154 Content Area Language and Literacy Instruction, candidates learn to develop and/or adapt materials which demonstrate understanding of the ranges of language proficiency and literacy development.  This course also focuses on methods to help students with various levels of proficiency gain access to text. [ See SPED 121, CI 159, CI 161, and LEE 154 syllabi.]

Laws regarding special populations.

The responsibility for presenting relevant state and federal laws pertaining to educating students with special needs is shared by SPED 121, the special education course, and CI 151 Social Foundations of Education, which has a unit on the basic legal rights and responsibilities of teachers. In SPED 121 candidates learn about the legal obligations of the school district with regard to students with special needs as well as their individual role in carrying out these responsibilities. They study the key provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) including a student’s right to a free and appropriate education, fair evaluation, instruction in the least restrictive environment, and individualized education program (IEP) and due process. [See CI 151 and CI 152 syllabi.

Demonstrating skills in creating a positive climate for all students and collaboration.

In both semesters of student teaching, candidates are required to plan and deliver instruction in classrooms containing students with special needs and/or students who are gifted and talented. In both their lesson and unit planning, candidates are required to describe how they will accommodate special students and maintain a positive classroom climate for all. They are evaluated on their ability to do this. They are also evaluated on their skill in collaborating with colleagues including education specialists  [ See the Teacher Performance Assessments in the FAST Manual and Student Teaching and Internship Handbook.]

Social integration of students.

Social integration of exceptional students is addressed in the special education course (SPED 121). Candidates learn to facilitate the integration of special needs students in the regular classroom. They learn to use strategies such as explicit teaching of social skills, providing examples or models of appropriate social interaction, and using cooperative learning and peer tutoring.

In addition to the treatment of social integration for special needs students in SPED 121, the special education course, CI 151 Social Foundations of Education also focuses on creating a caring, inclusive classroom community as an aspect of equality of educational opportunity. [ See syllabus for CI 151 and SPED 121.]

Intern Program Delivery Model:

In pre-service, teacher preparation programs provide candidates with a knowledge of and ability to teach Special Populations (Students with Special Needs) in the general education classroom.

Prior to the internship year, all Single Subject intern candidates are required to take SPED 121 Teaching Students with Special Needs in the Secondary General Education Setting.

Back to Top