Special Education


Special Education Office
304 Recitation Hall
West Chester, PA 19383
Call: 610-436-2579
FAX: 610-436-3102

Undergraduate Programs

Major Programs

Minor Programs


Student Experiences in the Special Education Program

Bachelor of Science in Special Education

Mission Statement

In keeping with the purpose of teacher education at West Chester University, the prime mission of the Teacher Education program in Special Education is to prepare teachers who can synthesize self-knowledge and general knowledge of (a) foundations of the study of disability, (b) the learner with disabilities, (c) appropriate content for the learner with disabilities, and (d) effective classroom pedagogy. We believe this synthesis encourages reflection on the art of teaching and results in a professional who is able to make sound, ethical educational decisions regarding curriculum and instructional strategies for students with disabilities.

The B.S. Ed. in Special Education prepares teachers who can provide diverse student populations with the knowledge, skills, and values considered essential for effective participation in society. It provides relevant and comprehensive education for those who desire to support the educational, emotional, and physical needs of students with disabilities, from birth to 21 years of age, in the public schools of Pennsylvania. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, the student will qualify for a Pennsylvania Instructional I Teacher Certificate, valid for six years of teaching.

General requirements for B.S. ED. Degree in Special Education

BSED Programs in Special Education (For Freshman Entering Fall 2009 or Later)

The State Board of Education (PDE) has adopted changes that affect all of PA’s teacher certification programs by adding 9 credits or 270 hours of equivalent combination for adaptations for accommodations for diverse students in an inclusive setting and 3 credits or 90 hours or equivalent combinations to meet the instructional needs of English Language Learners. Our new programs reflect these new regulations and have been approved by PDE.

The State Board of Education adopted changes specific to early childhood, elementary (K–6) and special education for students seeking certification in 2013. New certification guidelines stipulate special education certification (K–8) or special education certification (7–12). In addition, all students seeking either of the special education certifications must simultaneously obtain at least one of the following certifications, Prek–4, 4–8 (middle level content area), or 7–12 (secondary content area). As of Fall 2009, the Department of Special Education will solely offer these new certification programs to all incoming freshman. Our new programs reflect these new regulations and are currently pending state approval.

In order to be cleared for graduation an undergraduate student must complete the following requirements

  1. Satisfactory completion of, 135 credits for the BSED-SPED/EGP, 148 credits for the BSED- SPED/MGP, and 136-154 credits for BSED-SPED/Secondary (content area) as stipulated in Department of Special Education Student Handbook.
  2. Formal Admission to Teacher Education (FATE: see below)
  3. Minimum GPA of 3.0 for graduation and eligibility for certification
Program Structure

Our program provides you with field placement and experience in the same block of courses where you are concurrently learning characteristics, teaching methods, application, and theory. Integral to the success of such experience is the necessity to provide you with opportunities to reflect and question what you observe and experience in these placements. In this way you always will have the opportunity to integrate theory and practice.

The field experiences in private or public schools are designed to give you first hand experience with children in high incidence and low incidence settings. The course work taken concurrently provides you with the theory and research necessary to become an effective teacher.

EDA103: Foundations of Special Education

This course is designed to acquaint the prospective teacher with the historical legal evolution of the field, as well as the characteristics of individuals with disabilities.

This course bases its objectives on the knowledge that all teacher candidates will need to know how to work with a diverse group and level of children with disabilities. It will acquaint the teacher candidate with the legal mandates of the teacher serving children with disabilities in the least restrictive setting, as well as the characteristics of those children with disabilities, including the effects of family demographics. Also, emphasis will be placed on working within the special education team structures, as appropriate to inclusive practices, and the various roles each professional takes on.

EDA203: Field: Students with Exceptionalities

This course is designed to have the prospective teacher observe and reflect upon the characteristics of students with disabilities within the context of school and clinical settings. The content will focus on issues relative to special education in a diverse society and will rely heavily on reflective teaching and learning

EDA314: Curriculum and Instruction for Individual Learning Differences I

This course is designed to prepare students to assist children with disabilities achieve skills in academics and functional life domains. Emphasis is placed on understanding and analysis of learning problems, and the design and planning of instructional interventions.

EDA321: Behavior Management and Field Experience

This course is an exploration of current practices in behavior management with emphasis on teacher-delivered systems. It includes a field placement in a school where students will assess and develop interventions for a child with behavioral challenges.

EDA361: Assessment and Special Education

This course is designed to introduce students to instructional assessment in special education and the development of relevant education plans to meet federal regulations.

EDA413: PreK-8 Aspects of Transitions

This course will address support structures that serve students with disabilities as they transition from homebound to and throughout K-8 school based instruction, stressing legislative foundations, interagency linkages, school partnerships, referral processes, and systems of service delivery. The teacher practitioner as change agent will be an underlying theme.

EDA414: Secondary Career Development and Transition

This course will address support structures that serve students with disabilities as they transition from middle to high school and to adult life, stressing legislative foundations, interagency linkages, school partnerships, referral processes, and systems of service delivery. The teacher practitioner as change agent will be an underlying theme.

EDA421: Level Curriculum and Instruction for Individual Learning Differences II and Field

This course is designed to support students in the research, development, and implementation of instruction for students with disabilities. Emphasis is placed on demonstration and implementation of appropriate curriculum and materials for the individual student with disabilities, with particular emphasis on life skills and academic skills including reading, written language, and mathematics.

EDA429: Communication Development and Assistive Technologies for Students with Disabilities

This course will provide a broad overview of normal and atypical communication development. Importance will be given to communication disorders, characteristics of students with disabilities, and the impact of high and low level technology.

In addition there are a variety of supporting courses and other special education requirements.
See Advising Sheet.

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Special Education B.S.Ed. Dual Major Advising Sheets

Special Education Prek-8 and Early Grades Education

Special Education 7-12 and Secondary Biology Education

Special Education 7-12 and Secondary Chemistry Education

Special Education 7-12 and Secondary Earth and Space Science Education

Special Education 7-12 and Secondary General Science Education

Special Education 7-12 and Secondary English Education - Literature Track

Special Education 7-12 and Secondary English Education - Writing Track

Special Education 7-12 and Secondary Math Education

Special Education 7-12 and Secondary Physics Education

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Minor in Special Education (Fall 2010 or Later) – 18 semester hours


Required courses

        EDA 103: Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)

        EDA 203: Field: Students with Exceptionalities (3 credits) (Prereq: EDA 103)

        EDA 361: Assessment and Special Education (3 credits) (Prereq: EDA 103, 203; Co-req: 314).

        EDA 314:  Curriculum & Instruction for Individual Learning Differences - I (3 credits) (Prereq: EDA 103, EDA 203; Co-req: EDA 361).

        EDA 421: Curriculum & Instruction for Individual Learning Differences – II (6 credits – 3 credits lecture and 3 credits field) (Prereq: EDA 103, EDA 203, EDA 314, & EDA 361).

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The minors do not lead to Instructional I teacher certification by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Formal admission to Teacher Education (FATE) Requirements

  • Enrolled in a program leading to teacher certification or educational specialist
  • Earned a minimum of 48 credits at the college level (100 level or above)
  • Earned a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8
  • Earned 3 credits in college-level English composition
  • Earned 3 credits in literature taught in English
  • Earned 6 credits in college-level mathematics
  • Achieved passing scores, as established by the PA Department of Education, on the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) test modules (changeover to PAPA, effective April 2, 2012). See note* below on previously required PRAXIS I/PPST tests.
  • Received the recommendation of your major department (signature of your advisor)
  • Community service (20 hours) is required for early grades, middle grades, and special education/dual majors.
  • Middle grades preparation majors must complete the Declaration of Academic Content Area Concentrations

* PRAXIS I/ PPST tests: Undergraduate candidates who have taken or registered for the PPST basic skills test prior to April 1, 2012 will have their PPST tests accepted by PA Department of Education. Candidates who took their PPST tests and were not successful may retake the PPST tests after April 2, 2012 until they are successful.

3.0 GPA required at completion of degree program coursework.

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Application and Approval for Student Teaching

Students must apply through the Department of Special Education for approval for student teaching placements. Prerequisites for student teaching include:

  • Formal admission to Teacher Education
  • 96 credits, including all professional educational courses and all specialized preparation courses with necessary grade prerequisites, with a cumulative GPA of 2.8
  • Completion of the following forms: Student Teaching Application, Child Abuse History Clearance form, Request for Criminal Record Check, FBI Records Check, and a TB test. Allow enough time to receive responses for clearance. All clearance forms except TB Test are valid for one year. The TB Test is valid for the duration of the WCU career, but must be done no longer than 3 months prior to entering the initial field placement.

Students apply for student teaching through the Office Field Placements and Student Teaching. The application for student teaching must be filed in one full year prior to the academic semester in which student teaching is to be scheduled. Application meetings will be announced at the beginning of the fall semester each year. Students register for student teaching as they would for any other University courses.

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Field Placement in Schools

All field placements, including student teaching, are arranged by the department. Students are not to solicit placements. While student needs are considered in assigning placements, no particular placement can be guaranteed. Transportation to and from field placements is the responsibility of the individual student.

West Chester University does not place students at religiously affiliated schools when public schools are available for a student teaching experience. In addition, the University will make every attempt to first place students into public (vs. private) schools for student teaching and related activities. Further, students will not be assigned student teaching or other related duties at nonsectarian private schools or agencies unless they specifically request such placement. Each request will be considered individually to ensure that the private entity does not receive special benefit from the arrangement that outweighs the benefit to the University and its students.

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