Special Education licensure and endorsement varies from state to state, as does the terminology used in describing the knowledge that is required and the students to whom it applies. In general, the terms “high-incidence,” “adaptive,” “cross-categorical” and “multi-categorical” have similar meanings.
What is the definition of high-incidence disabilities?
To better serve students with disabilities, some states classify students identified for special education in terms of incidence — how frequently students’ particular disability or disabilities may be encountered in classrooms.
“High-incidence” disabilities may include:
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Communication disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
- Specific learning disabilities
- Emotional or behavioral disorders
- Physical and sensory needs (that affect educational opportunities)
Students with a range of high incidence disabilities that complicate learning are able to participate in typical school curriculum with some additional learning and support. Special educators who support them might be credentialed as cross-categorical, high incidence, adaptive, or multi-categorical. Some states still use disability specific credentialing systems and endorse their teachers in learning disabilities, learning and communication disabilities or special needs.
What Education might be needed for Licensure and Endorsement?
In general, a teacher who wants to teach in a high-incidence, adaptive, cross-categorical or multi-categorical classroom requires a special education program from an accredited institution that includes courses in all or a majority of the high-incidence disabilities and a state license to practice. These programs address the needs of students with mild-to-moderate disabilities.
Coursework is likely to include:
Introduction to special education coursework (including historical, legal and ethical foundations) and/or survey of exceptional children
Diagnosis and Assessment
Teaching methodologies and strategies for students with disabilities
Characteristics of mild-to-moderate disabilities
- Practicum or clinical program working in adaptive education (including learning centers, resource centers, co-taught classrooms, as well as consultative support to general educators)
Other topics that can be covered include collaboration, communication and conflict resolution with parents and professionals including co-teachers, consultants, para-educators, and resource teachers.
Each state will have its own requirements to demonstrate that educators are qualified to teach special education. This can include examination for special education, licensure to teach other subjects, and current teaching experience. If you are interested in becoming licensed, visit your state’s Department of Education and understand any requirements before embarking on any additional education.