How to Become a Special Education Teacher in NY
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New York Special Education
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) and its Office of Special Education employ over 38,500 special educators to serve the state’s 728 public school districts. New York has 4,768 public schools, 140 charter schools and 1,991 private schools. New York City is home to the country’s largest public school system, serving 1.1 million students, and operates its own New York City Department of Education website with a section devoted to its Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners. The U.S. Department of Education gives New York one of its lowest ratings, “Needs Intervention,” in regard to its ability to provide special education services. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 16.6 percent of New York students hold Individualized Education Programs, which is significantly higher than the national average of 13 percent.
Undergraduates can pursue a bachelor’s degree through a state-approved teacher preparation program that includes all the pedagogical and content area classes necessary for licensure. They must also pass state-mandated tests to qualify for a New York certificate. Consult the NYSED’s Preparation Pathways guide to learn about the exact requirements for licensure in each subject area.
The typical path to New York educator licensure for college graduates entails enrolling in an approved educator preparation program that includes an internship at a K-12 public school. Individuals pursuing this option can focus on a specific area of education, such as special education, to earn an endorsement on their certificate.
Special Education Teaching Programs in New York
For individuals interested in pursuing an accelerated track to licensure and working in New York City schools, there are many residency programs at New York City educational institutions that combine preparatory coursework with apprenticeship and other forms of mentored and supervised teaching. These include the New Visions for Public Schools Urban Teacher Residency, the I-START Urban Teacher Residency Program and the American Museum of Natural History’s Master of Arts in Teaching Urban Residency Program. Those seeking a graduate degree can consider the Master of Arts in childhood or adolescence special education at Saint Joseph’s College. This well-regarded program results in both a master’s degree and eligibility for several certifications depending on students’ qualifications before entering the program. The NYSED’s website features an interactive tool that helps would-be teachers determine which colleges they should attend. Candidates can select the type of degree, certification, endorsement, subject area or grade level they at which they desire to teach, and the custom search engine produces a list of NYSED-approved options.
For profiles of all the schools in New York that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
The NYSED’s alternative preparation program webpage describes its ideal candidate as a professional seeking a career change. Participants engage in an accelerated training program and enter classrooms with paid teaching positions as they continue with their coursework and receive mentoring and support from both the school district and the college at which they study. Subsets of this alternative pathway include Transitional B for candidates with bachelor’s degrees and Transitional C for those who hold graduate or professional degrees. The New York City Department of Education website lists several additional alternative licensure programs for people interested in working in the city’s schools with the highest need and in teacher shortage areas. For example, the New York City Teaching Residency is for those who want to teach in low-performing secondary schools, while NYC Teaching Fellows recruits and prepares educators to fill slots in teacher shortage subject areas, which include special education.
Special Education Teaching Jobs in New York
The NYSED’s website provides links to job banks that post openings for New York educators, both statewide and in New York City.
The NYSED provides a list of approved schools (including private, special act, state-operated and state-supported schools) in New York that offer special education programs.
- The Educator Resources section of the NYSED’s website provides an overview of continuing education requirements for New York educators. The New York City Department of Education has its own professional development webpage that provides information about learning opportunities.
- The state operates several Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Centers that provide professional growth opportunities and technical training for special educators.
New York Special Educator Professional Organizations
- The state teacher’s union, the New York State United Teachers is an AFL-CIO affiliate consisting of over 600,000 public educators, retired educators, public school staff and healthcare workers.
- The federally-mandated Commissioner’s Advisory Panel for Special Education Services consists of people with disabilities, families of people with disabilities, special educators and community stakeholders who advise the state on matters concerning special education.