Special Education Certification

Are you an educator with a Pennsylvania Instructional I certificate who wants to better serve students with disabilities and a variety of learning styles and needs?

The Urban Teaching Residency Program offers a one-year, hybrid program (online coursework with monthly in-person field experiences) for working educators seeking a Pennsylvania Special Education certification. This program is open to any educator who has a Pennsylvania Instructional I certificate.

Note: This is not a master’s degree program. Please visit the Urban Teaching Residency Program Options page for details.

Online Coursework

Fall

Special Education Law and Processes

1.0 CEU

Educating Students with Disabilities I

1.0 CEU

Foundations in Special Education

0.0 CEU

Spring

Educating Students with Disabilities II

1.0 CEU

Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Interventions

1.0 CEU

Summer I

Language and Literacy Acquisition

1.0 CEU

 

Total

5.0 CEU

Quick Facts

Fee See Tuition Page
Field Experiences One Saturday per month (January through May)
Application Deadline Rolling until September 1
Prerequisite Instructional I Certificate*

Applicants who do not have Instructional I certification should explore the Urban Teaching Residency Program's two-year option.

Program Contact: Claudia Candido, ccandido@upenn.edu

Apply Now

VAST LIFE Field Experience & Mentoring

Our VAST LIFE field experience provides an unmatched opportunity for aspiring special education teachers to work one-on-one with students who have moderate to significant developmental and intellectual disabilities. From January to May, you’ll spend one Saturday per month participating in and supporting students in cultural and community activities. VAST LIFE will give you hands-on experience working with students who have developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families while being supported by alumni. The fieldwork experience is directly tied to the coursework for Educating Students with Disabilities.

Admissions Requirements

You must have already earned an Instructional I certification (an initial teaching certificate) in order to be considered. If you do not have Instructional I certification, then you should consider applying for the Urban Teaching Residency’s two-year program which provides you with an initial teaching credential, a master’s degree and a Special Education certification. There are two types of application processes: one for teachers who earned their teaching credential outside of Penn GSE, and one for teachers who earned their teaching credential from one of Penn GSE’s teacher education programs.

Streamlined Application Process for Alumni of Penn GSE Teacher Education Programs

If you are an alumnus of the Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program (formerly the Teacher Education Program), the Urban Teaching Residency Program (formerly TFA), or the Independent School Teaching Residency (formerly PRMT), and you have Instructional I certification, you will need to submit the following in your application:

  1. Letter of completion from the UTAP, UTR, or ISTR Program Manager (contact information below)
  2. Letter of support from your principal
  3. Unofficial copy of your Penn transcript
  4. Brief personal statement (150 words or less)
  5. Resume/CV

  Program Managers:

  • Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program (UTAP): Maureen Cotterill, maureenc@upenn.edu
  • Independent School Teaching Residency Program (ISTR): Chris Pupik Dean, cpu@upenn.edu
  • Urban Teaching Residency Program (UTR): Claudia Candido, ccandido@upenn.edu

Regular Application Process

  1. Letter of recommendation
  2. Letter of support from your principal
  3. Official copy of your transcript
  4. Personal Statement: Please describe your interest in studying special education and why you believe the UTR certificate program is the right fit for you.
  5. Resume/CV

 

Course Descriptions

Special Education Law and Processes
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of special education processes, including the evaluation processes, exceptionalities and eligibility, the development and delivery of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as theories and best educational practices in the field and profession of special education. Students will become familiar with the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), the cornerstone of special education law; Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Pennsylvania statutes and regulations governing special education law. Issues related to an understanding of the evaluation and determination of exceptionalities in a cultural context will be explored. There will be a focus on the direct application of knowledge and skills to the classroom, as well as the expectation that students’ teaching experiences will inform discussion and learning.

Educating Students with Disabilities I
The purpose of this course is to teach students problem solving strategies, teaching techniques, itinerant services, team and community building, and types of disabilities found in students who are eligible to take alternative state testing. Students will learn what constitutes disabilities in this population and issues surrounding providing this population with an effective education. Students will explore the ramifications, jargon, specific goals and objectives included with creating and implementing an IEP for students in the population. Students will discuss the appropriateness of various academic environments as children with more encompassing disabilities progress from elementary to secondary education, and transition into adulthood. General issues surrounding the topic of inclusion and the least restrictive environment will be addressed. A holistic approach to educating this population, with an emphasis on social, emotional, behavioral, transition and life skills are a focus. Forty (40) mandatory hours of fieldwork (VAST LIFE) will take place in the spring semester following this course for one Saturday a month from January through May. This will allow students to demonstrate learning acquired in the course work in a realistic setting. Content will be presented through online lecture, hands-on projects, reading and fieldwork experience.

Social, Emotional & Behavioral Interventions
This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of students who present with social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. The course will focus on the definitions, characteristics, prevalence, causes, and assessment of emotional and behavioral disorders. Effective teaching practices will be integrated in the course, including education service placements, functional behavior assessment, ABA, positive behavior supports and social skills instruction. Current issues in the field will also be explored. There will be a focus on the direct application of knowledge and skills to the classroom, as well as the expectation that students’ teaching experiences will inform discussion and learning.

Educating Students with Disabilities II
The purpose of this course is to teach students problem-solving strategies, teaching techniques, itinerant services, team and community building, and types of disabilities found in students who have disabilities related to specific learning disabilities. We will learn what constitutes disabilities in this population and issues surrounding providing this population with an effective education. Students will explore the ramifications, jargon, specific goals and objectives included with creating and implementing an IEP for students in the population. General issues surrounding the topic of inclusion and the least restrictive environment will be addressed. Instructional techniques and assessments strategies will be a focus.

Literacy & Language Acquisition
This course addresses research-based instructional strategies for teaching literacy (including language development, reading, writing, and speaking) to learners in grade levels PreK- 12 as well as practical and effective modifications for diverse learners (including struggling readers, English Language Learners, and students with learning disabilities in reading, as well as students with a wide range of disabilities requiring accommodations [cognitive, linguistic, physical, and social]). Formative and summative assessments of emergent and content literacy, including components of literacy (phonological awareness, word analysis, comprehension, vocabulary, fluency) will also be addressed. Also included are factors which influence literacy acquisition as well as life-long literacy for children and adolescents who struggle in literacy.