Mission and Program Goals


The MEd in Special Education Program is dedicated to preparing special educators to make positive contributions in the lives of persons with disabilities and to serve as positive change agents in their work settings.

Program Description

The curriculum is aimed at helping graduate students understand the complexities of issues related to the challenges often faced by persons with disabilities. Students acquire and develop skills requisite for providing an effective delivery of services needed to assist such persons as they strive for success in inclusive settings.

Learning experiences are structured in a way that helps graduate students develop a comprehensive knowledge of the multifaceted nature of special education.

The MEd in Special Education program allows pre-service and in-service teachers to select one or more emphases. These areas of study can be aligned so that their graduate program meets specific endorsement requirements on their teaching license. The five areas of emphasis include: Special Education-General Curriculum, K-12; Special Education-Adapted Curriculum (K-12); Early Childhood Special Education (birth to 5); and Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Applied Behavior Analysis.

Program Goals

Goal #1 – Issues and Dimensions of Disabilities

Graduates will articulate a comprehensive understanding of current research, issues, and trends in the field of special education. In addition, graduates will apply in-depth knowledge of the legal-regulatory, biological, psychological, and sociological (including culture, SES, age, and gender) dimensions of disability when engaging in responsibilities expected of a special educator.

  • Define key attributes of current issues and trends.
  • Compare and contrast differing perspectives related to current issues and trends, with reference to any research that may support contrasting perspectives.
  • Suggest logical implications of such issues and trends for practice.
  • Demonstrate the ability to be a knowledgeable and responsible consumer of educational research.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern services for individuals with disabilities.
  • Articulate understandings of etiology within biological and familial-cultural-environmental contexts.
  • Read with understanding reports that include etiological information in applied settings.
  • Discuss differing perspectives that define categorical definitions, and how they have changed over time.
  • State and recognize commonalities (characteristics) among disabilities, across developmental areas.
  • Detail and recognize characteristics unique to specific disability categories.
  • Discuss issues related to the life-transition periods in relation to disability.
  • Identify and recognize health-related symptoms associated with specific and non-specific medical conditions.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with commonly used health care procedures found in settings that serve children and/or adolescents with health-related conditions.

Goal #2 – Assessment and Planning

2a. Graduates will possess the knowledge and skills to assess, interpret, synthesize, and summarize the abilities and needs of individuals with disabilities using appropriate formal and informal assessment measures in applicable areas (including academic, functional, adaptive, social-emotional, physical-motor, and communication skills—respective of area of emphasis).

  • Articulate understandings of key concepts and principles related to informal and formal assessment.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a variety of formal assessment instruments.
  • Demonstrate appropriate assessment procedures.
  • Use effective strategies for observing, recording, and exhibiting student data.
  • Write well written assessment reports, and present oral summaries of those reports, in ways that would be understandable to both professional peers and families from diverse backgrounds.

2b. Using informal and formal assessment data, graduates will design individualized educational plans (IEPs) that take into account the comprehensive needs (including academic, functional, adaptive, social-emotional, physical-motor, and communication skills—respective of area of emphasis) of individuals with disabilities.

  • Write Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) statements that meet state regulations.
  • Write Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP) or Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) goals and objectives that meet state regulations.
  • Communicate the regulatory dimensions of IFSP and/or IEPs in terms of their development, implementation, and evaluation (with special attention to family involvement in the entire process).
  • Manifest IFSP and/or IEP goals and objectives into daily instructional routines.
  • Develop Individualized Transition Plans (SE-GC)
  • Develop Individualized Health Plans (ECSE)

Goal #3 – Classroom and Behavior Management

Graduates will implement data-based special and general educational programs that meet the needs of individuals with disabilities using knowledge of standards of practice, techniques, and principles in the areas of classroom and behavior management—respective of area of concentration).

  • Classroom management
    • Evaluate the appropriateness of environments for students with disabilities—based upon research-based environmental design and UDL principles, as well as culturally responsive principles and health-medical considerations
  • Behavior management
    • Define in a comprehensive manner Positive Behavioral Intervention, and FBA/BIP.
    • Demonstrate knowledge of and ability to apply and evaluate the effectiveness of less-to-most teacher intrusive behavioral interventions.
    • Demonstrate knowledge of and ability to apply and evaluate the effectiveness of behavioral and cognitive behavioral strategies.
    • Articulate differing perspectives related to the use of behavioral intervention models.

Goal #4 – Instruction and Curriculum

Graduates will implement data-based, special education instruction and curricula that meet the needs of individuals with disabilities using knowledge of standards of practice, techniques, and principles in the areas of instruction and curriculum—respective of area of concentration).

  • Instructional procedures
    • Demonstrate knowledge of and ability to apply and evaluate the effectiveness of evidence-based instructional approaches that are teacher-directed, peer-mediated, or student centered, by content area.
    • Articulate differing perspectives related to the use of instructional approaches, with reference to research supporting their use.
    • Demonstrate knowledge of, and ability to apply and evaluate the effectiveness of, content-specific instructional strategies.
    • Demonstrate knowledge of assistive and/or instructional technologies to help meet the needs of individuals with disabilities.
  • Curriculum development and adaptations
    • Articulate an understanding of different types of curricula and their implications for students with disabilities.
    • Deliver curriculum in a variety of ways that enhance the ability of students with disabilities to succeed in different educational environments.
    • Adapt standards-based curriculum to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Goal #5 – Collaboration

Graduates will employ effective communication and problem-solving skills in collaboration with professionals and families in order to enhance the educational opportunities and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

They will:

  • Summarize issues and trends related to the collaborative program designs and strategies for settings that serve students with disabilities.
  • Identify and assess barriers that may be preventing the improvement of school collaborative efforts.
  • Identify and assess cultural aspects that may be impacting the development of collaborative programs.
  • Describe commonly used collaborative teaming approaches (e.g., interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary).
  • Utilize and evaluate effective problem solving strategies in applied settings.
  • Apply basic communication skills.
  • Identify variables related to, and use strategies for, effective teaming.
  • Recognize, apply, and evaluate effective leadership skills.
  • Create solutions to conflict and resistance that may exist in collaborative settings.