Document Sample
                         AND RECOMMENDATIONS

                             Prepared for the Education Professional Standards Board
                                                    May 2002

I.        Introduction

          Kentucky, as are other states, is experiencing a growing shortage of fully certified special
          education teachers at all grade levels and in all areas thereby necessitating an increasing
          number of emergency- and probationary-certified teachers to fill these positions.1 The
          result is that some of our most “at-risk” teachers are being placed with our most “at-risk”
          students. This flies in the face of the Education Professional Standards Board’s (EPSB’s)
          commitment to and responsibility for ensuring high quality educators in every P-12
          classroom in Kentucky’s public schools. The dilemma is further compounded by the new
          federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s (2001) requirement that all public
          school teachers be fully certified by the 2005-06 school year.

          In September 2001, the EPSB requested that staff review the current status of emergency-
          certified special education teachers and recommend how best to address the problem. In
          preparing this report, staff focused only on the special education emergency certification
          area of learning and behavior disabilities (LBD), which serves children with specific
          learning disabilities (SLD) and emotional behavior disabilities (EBD). The LBD area

                     the largest percentage of students receiving special education services (during the
                      2000-01 school year, 19,691 SLD students and 5,843 EBD students were
                      identified, or 32 percent of the special education population)2
                     the fastest growing segment of the P-12 student population receiving special
                      education services (although the number of SLD placements decreased from
                      23,302 in 1992 to 19,691 in 2001, a 14 percent decline, the number of EBD
                      placements went from 3,283 to 5,843, a 78 percent increase)
                     the largest number of existing certified special education positions in the public
                      schools (1,932 in EBD and 3,789 in SLD, or 5,711 certificates out of a total 6,442
                      certificates in special education [89 percent])
                     the largest number of special education teacher vacancies (885 out of 1,083 [82
                      percent] in 2000-01, and 441 out of 538 [82 percent] as of March in 2001-02)

                   “Emergency certification” is defined as having at least a bachelor’s degree (that may or may not be in education, and may or
     may not include having a teaching certificate [or a Statement of Eligibility]), and less than nine hours in special education. “Probationary
     certification” is defined as having a bachelor’s degree, a teaching certificate (or Statement of Eligibility), and at least nine hours in special
     education. Neither certificate renders a person “fully certified” – i.e., one who has successfully completed a preparation program in special
     education and passed the required PRAXIS assessments.
                   Student enrollment and teacher vacancy data as of March 1, 2002 provided by Kentucky Department of Education.
              the largest number of emergency certificates in special education and in total (704
              out of 803 [88 percent] and 704 out of 1,766 [40 percent] respectively)

      Staff gathered information from the following key stakeholders:

             232 emergency- and probationary-certified special education teachers who had
              prior experience with emergency certification from across the state (via survey)
             special education consultants from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)
             regional cooperative special education directors
             the Higher Education Collaborative for Special Education, composed of special
              education faculty representing all colleges/universities with special education
              teacher preparation programs, as well as KDE representatives
             individual special education faculty from colleges and universities across the state
             individual superintendents, principals, and special education directors

II.   What is the Problem?

      The problem is twofold. First, as Table 1 delineates, Kentucky’s number of LBD
      emergency- certified teachers has continued to increase during the past four years. As
      noted in the emergency certification eligibility criterion, holding this certificate does not
      render a teacher “fully qualified” to be in the position.

      Table 1: LBD Emergency Certificates, 1999-2002

                                                                              % Increase in
                         Total          Total Emergency     Total LBD             LBD
       Year            Emergency          Special Ed.       Emergency          Certificates
                       Certificates       Certificates      Certificates       Over First
       1998-99                   505         281                   261                ---
       1999-00                   929         503                   456              75%
       2000-01                  1,431        665                   592             127%
      2001-02*                  1,766        803                   706             170%
         Source: EPSB
         * Data as of 3/13/02

      Second, data collected from staff’s web-based survey of 232 emergency-certified LBD
      teachers indicate that although many of them entered the area of special education
      expecting to remain in the field and pursue full certification, the majority of them do not
      advance toward attainment of this goal. Of those individuals granted LBD emergency
      teaching certificates from July 1996 through July 1999, only 24 percent obtained full
      certification in that or any area of special education. Certainly, some left the field to
      return to positions in their original content areas, but many gave up in frustration over the
      inordinate amount of time and superfluous requirements involved in obtaining full special
      education certification.

III.   What is Causing the Increasing Number of Emergency Certificates?

       A. High Number of Vacancies
       EPSB data indicate that there currently are 6,442 persons certified in LBD who are
       employed in the public schools. Of these, 5,711 are actually teaching in LBD positions.
       Based on KDE data, there were 885 vacant LBD positions posted during the 2000-01
       school year. Through March 2001-02, there were 441 vacant LBD vacancies posted, with
       higher numbers expected as districts begin to post vacancies for 2002-03. Unfortunately,
       the situation is worse than it appears. Districts do not have to stipulate to KDE the area
       of vacancy, and at times Jefferson County and Fayette County, the state’s two largest
       districts, choose to classify all teacher vacancies generically.

       Obviously there are many reasons why teachers decide not to accept positions in special
       education. Onerous federal and state guidelines, massive amounts of paperwork, stresses
       inherent in working with children who have special needs, poor working conditions . . .
       the list goes on and on.3 And yet, as this study revealed, there are many current and
       prospective teachers who want to be in special education classrooms, but who, because of
       external restrictions, are being discouraged from pursuing that endeavor, or worse, being
       denied access altogether.

                 It was almost overwhelming and I thought I hit the ground with a lot more
                 experience than most of my peers. Between principal requirements, district
                 requirements, state requirements, and university requirements, there are too many
                 “have to’s” thrown at you right away. I think you are needlessly burning out
                 potentially good teachers before they have a chance to settle in.

                 There seems something wrong with the system that you have to have a job offer
                 before you can apply for your emergency certificate. Let people start their in-
                 service and college hours and then districts can hire from that pool. I would have
                 gotten some things under my belt three months before I was hired if I had the
                 chance. As it was, I went from the anxiety and stress of trying to get a job to the
                 immediate stress of jumping through hoops to keep my job.

                            -- A probationary-certified LBD teacher (formerly emergency-certified)
                            with a secondary teaching certificate and 5+ years of experience

       B. Low Preparation Program Productivity
       EPSB admissions data from Kentucky’s seven public and seven independent college/
       university LBD teacher preparation programs show enrollments of 170 in 1999-2000 and
       200 in 2000-01. Exit data for 1999-2000 show 156 program completers (i.e., those
       seeking certification in LBD) and 120 in 2000-01. Of the 156 who in 1999-2000 took the
       PRAXIS exams required for LBD certification, 137 (88 percent) passed. Of the 120 in
       2000-01, 106 passed.

              Education Daily, (35) 50, Friday March 15, 2002.

           In other words, although in 2000-01 local school districts had to fill 592 LBD positions
           with emergency-certified teachers, in 1999-2000 the 14 preparation programs had
           produced only 137 fully certified candidates for these jobs. Likewise, during 2001-02,
           districts have had to hire 706 emergency-certified teachers, but during 2000-01, colleges
           and universities produced only 106 fully certified candidates. Thus it may be said that
           Kentucky’s 14 colleges and universities with LBD preparation programs are managing to
           meet approximately 15% percent of the state’s job market need.

           Table 2 depicts LBD program completers (based on the federal Title II definition) and
           number of those who passed the PRAXIS by teacher preparation program, 1999-2001.

     Table 2: Program Completers/Number Passing LBD PRAXIS Exams, 1999-2001
                                            1999-2000                                2000-2001
          Preparation              # Completers                     # Passing   # Completers     # Passing
     Asbury §                                NA                         NA           NA            NA
     Bellarmine                              16                         13           14            14
     Brescia                                  6                          *             6             6
     Cumberland                              11                          7             5             1
     EKU                                     26                         23            14             9
     MoSU                                    19                         17            15            13
     MuSU                                    20                         16            13            13
     NKU                                     11                         10             5             4
     Pikeville                                2                          *             0             0
     Spalding                                 0                          *             0             0
     Union                                    8                          *             4             4
     UK                                      17                         16            12            12
     U of L                                   0                          *             6             6
     WKU                                     20                         19            26            24
                                             156                        137          120           106
Source:    Title II 1999-2000 and 2000-01 reports;
NOTES:     § Offers initial certification at graduate level
           * Data not available for 1999-2000 for cells with <10.

           Low productivity in LBD preparation programs is a result of many factors, not least
           among which is the decreasing number of special education faculty. As do the school
           districts, institutions have difficulty filling vacant positions with qualified individuals and
           maintaining current faculty numbers. According to one institution, “Ten years ago we
           could get 10 to 15 applicants; we now get one or two, and those two generally are not
           acceptable to hire.” According to Education Week:

                The number of special education faculty members at universities has dwindled in
                the past 20 years, meaning fewer people are equipped to train new teachers needed
                to ease the shortage. . . .

                If every college and university faculty slot in special education were filled, about
                3,000 more special education teachers could be trained annually to serve about
                48,000 K-12 students a year, [according to an October 2001 study by Deborah
                Deutsch Smith].4

      Positions may remain vacant for up to three years, and, historically, at most institutions,
      long-term vacant positions are eliminated when budget cuts are necessary. Insufficient
      number of faculty has a negative impact on the institutions’ ability to recruit students into
      special education, which, in turn, has a negative impact on the students’ perception of the
      special education department and, perhaps, the field at-large. Institutions are forced to
      limit the number of students accepted into programs, and courses can only be offered
      based on faculty time constraints. Meanwhile, collaboration among institutions to share
      faculty and ensure a full array of course offerings remains all but nonexistent.

IV.   What is Causing Existing Emergency-Certified LBD Teachers to Leave the Field?

      A. Lack of Professional Support
      All persons holding an emergency certificate in special education must complete the
      following requirements annually in order for their emergency certificate to be renewed:

               six credit hours from a teacher preparation program in the area of special
                education emergency certification;
               12 clock hours of professional development in compliance with the KDE’s Office
                of Special Instructional Services;
               an additional six clock hours of professional development sponsored by either the
                KDE’s Division of Exceptional Children Services or by one of the 11 regional
                special education cooperatives throughout the state; and
               at least one day of flexible professional development training relevant specifically
                to special education.

      In staff’s survey of 232 emergency- and probationary-certified special education teachers
      in districts throughout the state, 54 percent of these teachers rated the college/university
      credit hours as “very helpful” or “helpful, and 35 percent rated them “somewhat helpful”
      or “not helpful.” Professional development sponsored by the KDE and/or regional
      cooperatives was deemed “very helpful” or “helpful” by 62 percent of respondents and
      “somewhat helpful” or “not helpful” by 36 percent. Comments were mixed and tended to
      differ based upon the number of years the respondent had spent in special education. A
      major complaint regarding both college/university coursework and professional

             Fine, L. (March 20, 2002). Dearth of Spec. Ed. Professors Kindles K-12 Shortage. Education Week. 19.

development was that they were repetitious and did not meet the teacher’s developing
professional needs.

       I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in social work. I
       feel that the education classes have been very repetitive with my prior knowledge
       and work. It has been quite frustrating.

                      -- An emergency-certified teacher in an LBD classroom

       The KDE conferences repeat the same information year after year. By now, I
       know how to fill out the paperwork. I’m never given anything related to the
       teacher standards or on preparing for the PRAXIS exam.

                      -- An emergency-certified teacher in an LBD classroom

       Some of the in-service hours are very helpful and beneficial yet others are as
       useless as the day is long. They don’t teach practical things, they don’t offer
       hands-on, every-day things that help – things that can be done in the 30-40
       minutes of resource time we have with some kids.

                      -- A second-year emergency-certified teacher in an LBD classroom

Only 33 percent of emergency-certified teachers were assigned a mentor teacher by their
employing district. (Fifty-eight percent of the probationary-certified teachers had
resource teachers by virtue of their being in the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program
[KTIP]. The other 42 percent did not participate in KTIP because they were already
veteran teachers, but, unfortunately, most were not assigned a mentor.) Of all the
assistance and support emergency- and probationary-certified teachers received, having
mentors/resource teachers was deemed of greatest value by many of them, including those
already certified in another area.

       I was about to call it quits within three months. . . . I told my school that I was no
       longer going to be involved with special education if I didn’t receive help. . . . I
       was assigned an experienced teacher for the second semester and . . . learned
       more in that time frame than I have in the college classroom.

                      -- An emergency-certified LBD teacher who already holds a
                      secondary education degree, has four years of teaching experience,
                      and has had prior experience with LBD/ED children in another job

       Even though I had worked in schools and classrooms for many years as substitute
       both in long term and day-by-day events, the impact of coming into a classroom
       with everything to do is practically overwhelming.

                                --An emergency-certified LBD teacher with an expired P-8

          Having taught previously I was not assigned a mentor teacher and there were lots
          of questions that I was not sure how to handle or what my job really was in
          certain circumstances. As I could, I talked these things over with another special
          education teacher in my school. I would suggest that all special education
          teachers be assigned a mentor or an experienced teacher to help them the first
          year even if they have teaching experience.

                                --An emergency-certified LBD teacher with 3 years’ teaching
                                experience in elementary education

A review of the literature confirms what the teachers said. Mentors offer valuable
information related to district and school-level policies and procedures that are not
provided in coursework or typical professional development. Whitaker5, in fact, found
that professional support, including “both formal and informal meetings with support
teachers to discuss areas of concern and to ask questions,” combined with opportunities to
observe and be observed, were of significant value in addressing the special education
issues that teachers find most overwhelming in the early days in the classroom.

Providing support for emergency- and non-KTIP probationary-certified teachers is
optional for districts, and, unfortunately, many of them do not. Regional cooperative
special education directors also assist emergency- and probationary-certified teachers by
providing a help manual, offering consultant assistance, and developing networks using
email and peer support groups, but many districts do not take advantage of these services,

B. Onerous Requirements for Moving Emergency-Certified LBD Teachers Toward
Full Certification
Presently, seven public institutions and seven private institutions of higher education
offer undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in LBD. A review of undergraduate program
information indicates that academic requirements range from 128 hours to 156 hours. All
programs lead toward a degree, and some also require individuals to obtain two degrees
(e.g., elementary education and LBD), plus gain additional years of teaching experience,
in order to be eligible for LBD certification.

Graduate programs range from 30 to 60 hours, but many lead only to rank change – i.e.,
no advanced degree. Typically, even teachers with an advanced degree in a content area
outside special education, as well as those already certified in a different area of special
education, are required to fulfill the same number of credit hours as those seeking initial
certification in order to be recommended for LBD certification.

       Whitaker, S.D. (2001). Supporting Beginning Special Education Teachers. Focus on Exceptional Children, 34(4), 1-19.

             I am a life-long special education teacher. I have a B.S. from *** in
             communication disorders, an M.Ed. from *** College in elementary and
             secondary education of the deaf and hard of hearing, a Rank I in school
             counseling, and did post-master’s study in marriage and family therapy at ***.
             I had a desire to work with EBD children and their families and sought a
             position. . . . One of the issues I have great difficulty understanding is with all of
             my special education background and my additional degrees and years of
             experience, I am considered not qualified to teach in the EBD area because I lack
             an additional six hours in “any” special ed. area to get another special education
             endorsement. I am seriously considering retirement because I will have to take
             additionally graduate hours . . . in order to keep my current position.

                             -- An emergency-certified teacher in an EBD classroom with 30 years’

             Being a certified teacher (for two years prior to moving to special education) and
             having multiple education courses which dealt with a range of children, I feel my
             time would have been better served in in-service or with a mentor teacher. Many
             of the college courses are a repeat of what I already know and by the time the
             assessment classes were taken, I already knew everything the professor was
             discussing, it was a boring repeat of material.

                             -- Former emergency-certified teacher in an LBD classroom, with a
                             secondary education degree

      Additional preparation problems face emergency-certified teachers and often cause them
      to discontinue pursuing full certification. Staff’s review of the preparation programs and
      discussions with faculty revealed that few programs have realigned their coursework to
      address the reality that emergency-certified teachers (a significant number of their total
      student population) are in real classrooms every day. Courses for these teachers are of the
      same content and offered on the same schedule as they are for young people just
      beginning their preparation programs and attending full-time. Additionally, the typical
      LBD preparation program offers no credit for working in a special education setting –
      everybody in the preparation program has to take the same number of hours, including
      student teaching, irrespective of his/her mastery of content and pedagogy, let alone
      teaching experience.

V. Some Points of Light
      In spite of the dire circumstances in which Kentucky finds itself relative to the staffing of
      LBD classrooms in the public schools, some institutions have boldly stepped to the fore
      and are making concerted efforts to address the problem. The following schools have
      submitted and received approval from the EPSB to provide alternative routes to
      certification as a LBD teacher:

            Eastern Kentucky University

                    Murray State University
                    Northern Kentucky University
                    Spalding
                    Union
                    University of Louisville

          These as well as a couple of other approved LBD programs who have yet to make formal
      application to the EPSB, are making an effort to respond to the growing need for LBD
      teachers. While all of the above programs have made changes in program admission
      requirements, availability and sequencing of courses, and advisement of students; it appears6
      only two of the above schools, Eastern Kentucky University and Murray State University
      have designed programs that address the need for radically different course calendars and
      only Murray State University provides test out options and a KTIP-like support during the
      new teacher’s first year.

VI.      Conclusion

         The bottom line is that: (1) there are too many LBD teachers who lack full certification,
         with the number increasing every year, and (2) little is being done to improve the pool of
         qualified candidates. No one in the education community, let alone parents, legislators,
         and concerned citizens, believes that the answers to these dilemmas lie in issuing more
         emergency certificates. Marginally qualified persons really should only be in classrooms
         on a very temporary basis and only in the direst of emergencies. Conversely, persons who
         demonstrate at least the same level of content knowledge and pedagogical skill as an LBD
         teacher intern should not be denied a position or, at best, consigned to a lower rank, less
         pay, and given less professional support. The EPSB, as the agency responsible for
         ensuring that every classroom is staffed by a caring, competent, and fully qualified
         teacher, must act immediately to ensure that those persons who desire a position in LBD
         and who can demonstrate at least beginning teacher-level competencies can enter the
         field, become fully certified, and, if applicable, begin the internship in a reasonable
         amount of time.

VII.     Recommendations

         Notwithstanding the federal government’s call for all teachers to be highly qualified by
         2005, the use of emergency certificates has proven beneficial to superintendents in hiring
         for positions in various shortages areas until fully certified teachers can be found. These
         recommendations, therefore, do not call for doing away with all emergency certificates,
         but rather address how best to deal with the inordinate number of these certificates in the
         LBD special education area.

                 A review of applications submitted by the institutions to offer alternative routes for LBD certification.

A. Increase the Pool of Fully Certified LBD Teachers
The EPSB should direct staff to immediately begin discussion with the Higher Education
Collaborative for Special Education, KDE special education consultants, and
representatives of special education teachers and administrators across the state to
develop a statewide preparation program whereby teachers certified in other areas and
persons with undergraduate/graduate degrees related to special education (e.g., social
work, psychology, counseling, child development) could become fully certified in LBD
within one year.

The new EPSB online website for professional learning would serve as
an initial point of contact for persons interested in seeking a LBD certification. Persons
meeting the aforementioned criteria would complete a series of introductory modules
offered on-line by the EPSB via These could be completed at any time
during the year, but persons hired prior to completing the modules would receive an
emergency certificate until such time as the introductory modules were successfully

Once the modules were completed, a participating college/university would enroll the
candidate in the LBD preparation program, and the candidate simultaneously would
receive one of the following:

      a Temporary Endorsement in LBD, Grades 8-12 (for teachers already certified in
       another secondary area and wanting to remain only in grades 8-12)
      a Temporary Provisional Certificate in LBD, Grades P-12 (for teachers already
       certified in another area and wanting P-12 certification)
      a Letter of Eligibility (for noncertified persons or teachers who have yet to
       complete KTIP).

Participating institutions would have to agree to incorporate the following program

      credit for past work experiences in related areas
      credit for classroom experience as an LBD teacher
      use of a mix of on-line modules and face-to-face seminars in lieu of regularly
       scheduled classes
      mentoring during the first year utilizing new teacher standards and KTIP-like
       observations, provided by district and/or special education cooperatives
      KTIP (if applicable) during the second year
      alignment of all coursework with PRAXIS II assessments
      use of shared instructional modules
      ability to test out of certain modules/courses by passing specific PRAXIS
      advanced standing in advanced degree/rank programs for those achieving LBD
       certification through this route

   The LBD emergency teaching certificate would continue to be available for persons with
   degrees unrelated to special education. The probationary certificate in LBD would be
   phased out.

   B. Improve Professional Support for All Emergency-Certified Teachers
   The EPSB should direct staff to immediately begin developing professional development
   guidelines to be used with LBD emergency- and probationary-certified teachers. In
   developing the guidelines, staff should seek input from KDE, higher education, and
   teachers and administrators statewide. These guidelines should require that:

          every emergency teacher employed by a district be assigned and given access to a
           mentor teacher
          all professional development offered for emergency- or probationary-certified
           teachers be built around the professional development standards recently adopted
           by KDE
          all professional development be designed to address the topics covered in the
           PRAXIS II assessments
          all professional development be aligned with INTASC (Interstate New Teacher
           Assessment and Support Consortium) standards for special education teachers
          all professional development completed to maintain emergency certification be
           aligned with the aforementioned standards
          all participants in professional development used to maintain emergency/
           probationary certification be asked to evaluate their professional development
           experiences relative to its alignment with these guidelines, and that these
           evaluation instruments be approved by EPSB staff, with the results of all
           evaluations submitted electronically to EPSB for review

For more information regarding this paper, please contact:

   Phillip S. Rogers, Ed.D.
   Division of Testing and Research
   Education Professional Standards Board
   1024 Capital Center Drive, Suite 225
   Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
   Telephone: 502.573.4606
   FAX: 502.573.1038