Department of Special Education
The special education program at Shippensburg University is working to meet the needs of a changing society. The program, an integral part of the Department of Teacher Education, has been designed to conform to the Special Education Standards of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and to the standards and regulations for graduate education at Shippensburg University, National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).
The faculty are highly sensitive to the impact of cultural diversity on the growth and development of children. While these factors are important in the development of curriculum in any educational program, they are especially critical in the educational planning for students with disabilities. The curriculum consistently demands the critical examination by students of the assumptions, both implicit and explicit, made in the selection and use of measurement instruments and instructional procedures and materials for any particular child.
The Special Education Program focuses its resources on the preparation of professional practitioners who are knowledgeable in the fields of child and adolescent development, cognitive, educational, and behavioral needs of students with disabilities. We also include intensive instruction on teacher-directed instruction, active academic responding, contingent reinforcement, and adapted instruction and strategy training. We firmly believe the needs of students with disabilities are best understood from the life span perspective on their development. Professionals must also be aware and knowledgeable regarding the impact of the actions of social and political institutions on the development of students with disabilities.
The purpose of the program is to equip special education teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to instruct students from several categorical areas (learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and behavior disorders). Participants completing the program of study will possess the necessary skills to provide instruction to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. Students’ learning will reflect historical and contemporary knowledge, research, theory, experience, and practice meeting the academic, personal, and social needs of their unique clientele. Specifically, students will be equipped with knowledge about (1) characteristics of children and adolescents with mild/moderate/severe learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities/autism, and emotional/behavior disorders, and (2) methods and strategies appropriate for instruction in the least restrictive environment regardless of the exceptionality category.
The special education program is designed to reflect the current knowledge base, including existing and envisioned practices in educational institutions, and clearly delineated models. Curricular coherence is strengthened through faculty study and dialogue on purpose, course content, and intended student-learning outcomes. The program also uses procedures and problem-solving techniques indicative of the reflective educator model.