Drawings on chalkboard

The Need for Special Education Teachers

In school systems across the country, there has been an increased demand for teachers in the challenging and richly rewarding field of special education. In our B.S. in special education, you choose from one of three concentrations:

  • Mild to moderate disabilities (certifying you to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in grades 1-6).
  • Mild to moderate disabilities and severe intellectual disabilities (certifying you to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in grades 1-6 and severe intellectual disabilities from preschool to age 22).
  • Severe intellectual disabilities (certifying you to teach students with severe intellectual disabilities from preschool to age 22).

Note: The B.S. in elementary special education is the same program as the B.S. in elementary education, with a concentration in special education that is offered through the Department of Elementary Education. 

Program Details

Course Information

Writing in the Discipline

W​hy or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/profession?

Our mission is to prepare teacher candidates to communicate effectively, orally and in writing, as special education professionals. Writing is important for teacher candidates because special educators must show competence in this skill in order to communicate with and gain the trust of families and community, contribute to evaluations reports, write individualized education programs for students, articulate instructional planning, and participate in academic writing as part of service to professional organizations, research teams, and other committees. Ultimately our teacher candidates need to show competence in the many purposes of writing so that they can serve as models to the students that they teach.

Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses?

SPED/ELED 202: Teaching All Learners: Foundations and Strategies
SPED 210: Supporting Social, Emotional and Behavioral Learning
SPED 312: Assessment Procedures for Students with Special Needs
SPED 412: Intensive Intervention in Literacy (Elementary Special Education)
SPED 435: Assessment/Instruction: Young Students with SID

The chosen courses address the outcomes associated with preparing teacher candidates to communicate effectively as special education professionals. These courses are well-suited to teaching disciplinary and professional writing.

In SPED 202 students learn to write a case study which includes summary and analysis of a student and school environments, review of student’s individualized education program (IEP), literature review of disability and reflection.

In SPED 210 students learn to write the foundations of a functional behavior assessment, present level of performance statements, annual goal, short term objectives and an analysis and summary of educational environments.

In SPED 312 students learn to write a case study that includes the collection, organizing, displaying and summarizing of data. This information is then used to write lesson plans.

In SPED 412 teacher candidates develop proficiency by using the Teacher Candidate Mini Work Sample (TCMWS). The TCMWS is used to summarize student progress and plan intervention, including writing an evaluation report and learning goals as part of the IEP and design for instruction (student learning objectives, a unit plan, and lesson plans).

SPED 435 is for students also taking the SID concentration. In SPED 435 students will write unit and lesson plans which will include student strengths and needs, present levels of performance, annual goals, and short term objectives.

What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?

Students in the Elementary Special Education program should expect to engage in three broad forms of writing:

  • Academic (scholarly writing (e.g., literature review), presentations, case studies)
  • Professional (IEPs, reports, lesson plans, communication with students, families and community partners)
  • Reflective (looking back on teaching, learning from work to improve teaching and learning)

All of the writing in which students engage will help them learn to:

  • Collaborate
  • Assess
  • Analyze
  • Evaluate
  • Summarize
  • Make recommendations
  • Design and create
  • Reflect

What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?

Special education teacher candidates will have opportunities to read model pieces in a variety of genres and discuss characteristics of effective writing, identify writing topics, have one-to-one writing conferences with their professors, and share writing and receive feedback with small peer groups.

When they’ve satisfied your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?

When special education teacher candidates complete our WID courses, they will be able to develop proficiency in monitoring student learning growth, design instruction, and communicate with other professionals and parents. They should know that professional writing has the power to inform, instruct, analyze, inspire and reflect.

Rhode Island College entrance

Exceptional Learning Needs Coordinator

Paul Lacava

Dr. Paul G. LaCava

Associate Professor