Special Education in South Carolina
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s state-by-state rankings of special education services, South Carolina “Meets Requirements,” the highest rating. While the national average of students with disabilities is 13 percent, the proportion of students with special needs in South Carolina is slightly higher, with 13.8 percent holding Individualized Education Programs, reports the National Center for Education Statistics. South Carolina employs over 5,750 special education teachers to staff its 85 school districts. The state has 1,230 public schools, 42 charter schools and 399 private schools. The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) and its Office of Exceptional Children oversee regulations pertaining to educator licensure and special education services.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Degrees in South Carolina
Project CREATE of SC collaborates with local public schools and 13 South Carolina colleges to help would-be special educators obtain alternative certification, initial certification or an endorsement in an area of special education. These certification areas include early childhood special education, emotional disabilities, hearing impairments, learning disabilities, mental disabilities, multi-categorical special education, severe disabilities, visual impairments and speech-language pathology. Project CREATE of SC also supports an advanced-level preparation program in speech-language pathology and a master’s degree program in communication disorders. The Program in Special Education at the University of South Carolina at Columbia is prominent due to its location at the flagship of the state’s university system. It offers three graduate-level degrees: a Master of Arts in Teaching interdisciplinary degree program (leading to teacher certification), a Master of Education (for certified educators) and a Doctor of Philosophy (a path toward administration, teaching at the college level or research). Students in the master’s degree programs can specialize in learning disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, severe and multiple disabilities or early childhood special education.
For profiles of all the schools in South Carolina that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
The SCDE allows several alternative pathways to obtaining South Carolina licensure:
- Participants in the highly-selective Program of Alternative Certification for Educators, or PACE, undergo intensive training over a three-year period, designed to help them make career changes to education.
- Teach for America draws recent college graduates who participate in training and coursework while teaching in South Carolina’s high-need areas.
- Individuals who pass American Board for Certification of Teaching Excellence (ABCTE) exams can begin teaching while working toward the full requirements for certification.
- At a more advanced level, the Adjunct Teaching Certificate permits individuals with relevant work experience to teach up to two courses per year in their adjunct content area.
Special Education Jobs
South Carolina Educators and Professional Development
- A project of the SCDE, eLearning SC provides online professional growth opportunities in integrating technology and delivering core curriculum. The eLearning SC portal also offers educators an online teaching certification program that allows them to add an endorsement or specialization to a current certificate.
- Coastal Carolina University, located in Conway, offers non-degree courses of study for educators in the areas of general and special education.
- On-site demonstration lessons, summer institutes and recertification coursework are among the professional development options at SC GEAR UP.
Groups and Organizations for South Carolina Special Educators
- The National Education Association-affiliated state teacher’s union, the South Carolina Education Association (SCEA) is open to public school and higher education teachers, support professionals and teachers in training.
- The Arc of South Carolina supports people with disabilities and their communities with education, advocacy work and resources.
South Carolina Special Education Blogs
- Family Connection Blog: The official blog of Family Connection South Carolina contains profiles of South Carolina individuals with disabilities and their families, as well as other inspiring and informative features.
- Successful Teaching: Patricia Hensley writes about her experiences and ideas as a special education teacher in Greenville.
- Trident Academy News & Announcements: Curricular strategies for children with language-based learning challenges, educator profiles and success stories comprise the listings on this private school’s blog.