November 19, 2019 - A new King’s College stand-alone degree program in Special Education PK-12 has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one of the first four in the state to earn the approval. The approval allows the College to begin immediately offering the program to current first-year and sophomore education students, meaning they will be among the first in the state to earn the degree following the Jan. 2022 effective date. The program will also be available to students entering in the fall of 2020 and 2021.
Governor Wolf signed Act 82 (H.B. 1386) in October 2018. The legislation changes the grade spans and age levels for certification of special education instructional certificates. Under the new legislation, all special education certificates issued after Dec. 31, 2021 would cover PK-12, or up to age 21, with no additional content or dual certification required. As a result of mandates passed in 2008 in response to No Child Left Behind, previous certifications in special education were available for grade levels PK-8 or 7-12 and required a certification in a content area such as math, English, or social studies.
“The statewide shortage of qualified teachers is felt most in special education,” said Dr. Denise Reboli, chair of the King’s department of education. A recent “Education Week” article indicated that the number of special education teachers nationally has dropped by more than 17 percent during the past decade, a worrisome trend in a career path that has seen consistent demand but chronic shortages.
Based on the most recent data, there was one special education teacher for every 17 students with disabilities. That's more special education students per special educator than the overall teacher-student ratio, which has held steady at about 1 to 16 for the past decade.
“The new regulations and resulting programs will begin to address the shortage of special education teachers while at the same time recognizing that special education requires a different set of skills than most people recognize, including the need to instruct in several content areas as well as helping to facilitate the transition from school to adult life” added Reboli. “After obtaining their required state certification, King’s students will have the flexibility of content area and grade level often sought by a school when hiring special education faculty.”
In addition to the degree program, King’s will be able to offer students the opportunity to double major in Pre-K -4 and special education, Grades 4-8 and special education, and secondary education and special education. The double majors will require a range of additional credit hours ranging from 16 to 22. The College will also offer courses for existing holders of degrees to receive the special education PK-12 certification or to expand their PK-8 or 7-12 special education certification. Further details on the program are available at https://www.kings.edu/specedpk-12 or by contacting the College’s Admissions Office at (570)208-5858 or firstname.lastname@example.org.