What alternative routes to teacher certification can I take as a person who already has a Masters in Education?
November 5, 2010 6:59 AM   Subscribe

I have a Masters and certification in Early Childhood. Now I'd like to work as a special educator. Seems the only way to get there is another Masters in Special Ed. I'd like to find a way to do this cheaply and quickly. I have looked into Teaching Fellows and similar programs, and all specifically require that applicants have no background in teaching. What can I do?
posted by rascalface to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Whoa! There are lots of places that are pretty desperate for special educators. There is a program in Virginia that pays for courses and lets you work toward your license as a special educator (or special educator's certificate) if you work as an early childhood teacher. I'm a speech therapist in the schools, and our preschool special education teacher started as a regular ed prek, and took grad-level classes in the evenings and online to earn her special ed prek certificate. If you're an employee of a county that has a shortage of special educators, see if they will foot the bill! There's a really good chance. Also look for Pell Grants just for teachers, too.
posted by shortyJBot at 7:26 AM on November 5, 2010

Some places are so desperate for special ed teachers that they'll give you provisional certification in it if you're already certified in another area. I did this a few years ago in Massachusetts. I had to take the teacher's exam for special ed. I found a basic intro to special ed textbook read through it carefully, took the test, and passed it.

Check out if your state has a similar program, you shouldn't need to get another masters.
posted by mareli at 7:47 AM on November 5, 2010

I live in an area that also gives emergency/provisional licenses for special education, AND help pay for your classes. Special education teachers are in demand, and many districts will be willing to work with you. I agree with mareli, also, that if you read a special ed textbook covering the basics of special education, you could probably pass the required test with no problem (I had to take the PRAXIS). Also, it's true that not all districts/states require a masters. My state DOES require that teachers be highly qualified, which is accomplished by taking what is essentially a basic skills test (which is easily passed if you've finished middle school).

Best of luck! We need good teachers in the field, and I hope you can find an inexpensive and quick way to start working in SPED!
posted by Happydaz at 1:12 PM on November 5, 2010

This is exactly what I'm trying to do, because of the lack of K-6 teaching positions in my area. Look at your local community college to see if they have a teacher in residence program (I'm planning on doing this one), a baccalaureate program that will allow you to work as a SPED teacher while attending classes at night. This program requires a two year teaching commitment, but meets all of the certification requirements, but avoids the coursework for another M.Ed, which I don't need or want. You'll also need to pass the special ed teaching exam (AEPA, in my state) along with the tests for whatever level you want to teach.
posted by lemonwheel at 4:09 PM on November 5, 2010

I can't speak to the easiest/fastest routes, but there are some programs that can help you do this cheaply. The Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program offers up to $17,500 in loan cancellation/forgiveness if you teach special education in a Title One school for at least 5 years. You wouldn't apply until you finish your program, but any years you've already taught in a title I school could help you qualify. Yes, Title I schools are low-income schools, but way more schools are classified Title I than you think. It's not just inner-city schools.

There's also a grant program called the TEACH Grant that allows you to receive up to $4,000 a year if you agree to teach in a high-need area (like Special Ed) in a low-income school for 4 of the 8 years after you graduate. The school you attend must participate in the TEACH Grant, and you apply through them.
posted by terilou at 5:23 PM on November 5, 2010

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