Research, such as that conducted by Jones (2004), has consistently shown that parents, teachers, members of the community, and legislators are most satisfied with their local schools that serve their children. Educational performance of the school district, however, is somewhat less satisfactory. Overall, state achievement is considered unsatisfactory while education across the nation is failing. In other words, the more removed from the individual's experience of education, the less convinced the individual is that education is achieving its goals.
The federal government, often far removed from local educational challenges, established standards for teachers (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards: Early Childhood Through Young Adulthood/Exceptional Needs Specialist Standards, 2001). More recently, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 mandated requirements for local school districts and provided grants for educators and school districts to meet its expectations, including those for special education. Closer to the local situation, state departments of education have responded to the requirements of federal law as they relate to special education. What are your state standards for teachers? What is the response of your state to the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act?
Since the 1970s, the Council for Exceptional Children (1999) has developed a Common Core of Knowledge and Skills Essential for All Beginning Special Education Teachers. More recently and in response to federal law, the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) Special Education Sub-Committee (2001) and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education have identified the professional knowledge and skills necessary to an effective special education teacher. How do these standards compare with national and state standards and the high quality teacher of NCLB?
With knowledge of national, state, and professional organization standards, students in this course learn what it means to be a special educator. With this understanding, students are ready to design a Program of Study for the Master of Education in Special Education degree program. And because special educators never work alone, students will choose a team of individuals with whom to share the educational experience. For specific information on NCLB, State Professional Teaching Standards, and Professional Organization Standards, students are advised to explore those standards at the Web site as shown in Overview 3.