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TSPC explains special education teacher certification Print E-mail

kent-hunsakerby Kent Hunsaker, Executive Director

In response to growing frustration expressed by teachers and school districts about guidelines for certification of special education teachers, the executive committee of the Oregon Association of School Executives (OASE) met recently with Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) Director Vickie Chamberlain.

Below is a summary, compiled by COSA Professional Development Director Bill Beck in consultation with TSPC’s Pam La Freniere, of the licensure issues discussed at the meeting.  (Your comments and questions are welcome -- see the comment form at the end of this blog).

Issue:  Elementary Special Education Teachers
Any elementary special education teachers who have three years of experience and who hold "stand-alone" special education endorsements should request Highly Objective Uniform State Standards of Evaluation (HOUSSE) evaluations to assess their High Qualified Teacher (HQT) status. TSPC looks for 60 quarter hours of prescribed courses related to elementary subject matter content.  Those with less than three years of experience and those not meeting the minimum 60-quarter-hours HOUSSE requirements must take the Oregon Educator Licensure Assessments (ORELA) Multiple Subject Exam to be deemed HQT.

Elementary special education teachers who hold a Basic or Standard Teaching License with handicapped learner and elementary 014, 016 endorsements, or an Initial Teaching License with special education and multiple subjects early childhood, elementary or middle levels, are considered HQ preprimary through grade 8 and do not need to request a HOUSSE evaluation. 

Issue:  Middle School Special Education Teachers
Middle school special education teachers are the same as elementary special education teachers.  They are Highly Qualified preprimary through grade 8 with the elementary endorsement or ORELA.  They do not need to be Highly Qualified in the individual content areas at 7th and 8th like the regular middle school teachers need to be.

Issue:  High School Special Education Teachers
Any special education teacher at the high school with Basic, Standard, Initial, or Continuing Teaching Licenses with "stand-alone" handicapped learner or special education endorsements and have completed three years or more teaching experience need to request HOUSSE evaluations.*

High school special education teachers who hold subject matter endorsements in the core academic areas taught in addition to their special education endorsements do not need to be evaluated for HOUSSE if they are properly assigned.

Issue:  When calling TSPC the persons responding don’t always give answers that are understandable to the caller.
Often times when the person calling does not provide TSPC with a complete question, answers can be incomplete are harder to comprehend.  Chamberlain suggested that before calling TSPC, individuals check with someone in their district to make certain they have a clear understanding of the issue.  This will help them ask a complete question, which in turn will allow the TSPC employee to respond appropriately.

Issue:  Literacy Coaches
Literacy Coaches are not required to have the same licensure requirements as a Reading Specialist.

Issue:  Getting a higher degree of understanding about these critical licensure issues among all superintendents and affected directors.
Chamberlain volunteered to make herself or members of her staff available at meetings or via VTEL for superintendent meetings around the state.  The intent is to provide opportunities for clarifying issues related to certification for special education teachers.  Contact Chamberlain at TSPC to schedule a meeting.

Comments (17)Add Comment
written by Steve Sabatka, May 22, 2006
How much time will teachers have to show that they are HQ?
Director of Student Support Services
written by Janell Black, May 22, 2006
Regarding the following descriptor listed above:

Middle School Special Education Teachers

Middle school special education teachers are the same as elementary special education teachers. They are Highly Qualified preprimary through grade 8 with the elementary endorsement or ORELA. They do not need to be Highly Qualified in the individual content areas at 7th and 8th like the regular middle school teachers need to be.

Does the above also pertain to a special education teacher teaching a stand-alone math class for a grade when that is the only math class the student is taking in a given year? Or, does this special education teacher need to become highly qualified in that subject in order to be the teacher of record for this class?
written by Vince Swagerty, May 22, 2006
I have heard recently that some HOUSSE standards were rejected by the US Department of Education. Is that true and, if so, how will we address the issue?
Secondary Special Education Certificatio
written by Bob Dunton, May 22, 2006
Thanks for the clarification. But what about the question of whether the requirements for secondary special education are inappropriate, impractical, unnecessary, or all of the above? Clarification regarding an unworkable requirement doesn't make the problem go away. I believe that the subject area requirement is simply wrong-headed in that it will not impact student achievement and is a significant financial burden.
Special Education Cert.
written by Angela Arterberry, May 23, 2006
I agree with Bob Dunton that the requirements for secondary special education are inappropriate. It is difficult enough to get engaging, effective teachers who want to teach special education, and to add more requirements on to new special ed teachers turns away those who might apply. We are educated in modifying the regular curriculum and to provide specially designed instruction to students using methods that are not part of the typical classroom. I feel that this is what we should be "highly qualified" to do, not be "highly qualified" in every subject we teach or will teach. Let regular ed worry about that, let the role of the special educator at the secondary level be to get our students on the path to learning when they are usually so far behind. Certainly we need to know enough about each subject to modify it, but we have already passed a basic skills test to get our teaching license in the first place. More emphasis needs to be placed on our "expertise" on identifying and implementing programs that support disabled learners. We are the experts in this and our education should stand alone.
Special Ed. Teaching Math as a stand alo
written by Bill Beck, May 23, 2006
Janell, if the sp.ed.high school teacher is teaching a math class and the level of that class is 9th grade or above, the teacher must meet the content requirements of NCLB. If the math class is below the 9th grade level, the elementary HQT requirements for special ed. teachers apply.
HOUSSE Standards Rejected
written by Bill Beck, May 23, 2006
Vince, yes some, but not all, of the Oregon HOUSSE standards for HQT were rejected. US Office of Ed. said we couldn't go over 50 percent of the formula in experience. They also stated that no more than 5 years of teaching can be used. The best way to figure this out would be to lop off the last portion of the chart (6-9 years). Teachers need 100 points to qualify and with no more than 50 acquired by teaching experience.

If you need detailed information regarding the HOUSSE standards, I suggest you call Pam LaFreniere at TSPC. Her direct number is (503) 373-1060.
When will \"new\" certificates be issued
written by Mike McAfee, May 23, 2006
So, I have 6 years of elementary experience as an HLS and 3 years of middle school HLS experience, and 6 years of high school HLS experience AND I'm already highly qualified in Language Arts grades 5-12, am I HQ as an HLS in all areas?
written by Laura Bekken, May 23, 2006
What type of quarter hours will the HOUSSE be looking for at the high school level? Should we direct all our teachers with three years experience and a stand alone endorsement to call TSPC to request a HOUSSE?
HOUSSE quarter hours
written by Bill Beck, May 24, 2006
The HOUSSE standards allow both lower and upper division course work in a content area. The most points a third year teacher would be able to use in the formula would be 30 if they taught at least one period in another content area each of the three years and they need 100 to qualify. It is always a good idea to have TSPC do the HQT evaluation on a teacher when one is uncertain of the outcome when measuring it against the HOUSSE standards.
Highly Qualified HLS
written by Bill Beck, May 24, 2006
Mike, if I understand your question correctly, you are HQT in Language Arts at all grade levels. Your best bet would be to have TSPC do a HQT assessment on your status to teach in content areas outside of Language Arts. Once you have received HQT status from TSPC you have it as long as you teach.
written by Tom Zandoli, May 25, 2006
Can a HQ HLS be a highly qualified full time Title I Reading Specialist?
Special Ed. Certification
written by Bill Beck, May 25, 2006
Bob and Angela,
there are a number of issues within NCLB that make no sense and go against a lot of what we know about how to succeed in a classroom. You have raised questions about the most difficult issue created by NCLB. For elementary and middle school the solutions are fairly straight forward. For high schools it becomes more difficult, but when one takes into consideration that the content requirements are only for those students that are having special ed. teachers as their primary instructor in content that is 9th grade or above, the overall impact is less of an issue. When one is totally at a loss on how to proceed, contact Vickie Chamberlain or Pam LaFreniere at TSPC.
How much time.
written by Bill Beck, May 25, 2006
Steve, all teachers are to be highly qualified by the end of this school year. U.S. Office of Education may allow an additional year for those states that qualify. (Although as far as we know none have been approved.) ODE's plan is being resubmitted that deals with this question. They are expecting to hear by September where Oregon stands. In the meantime, keep working toward getting your teachers HQT.
Handicapped Learner Specialist and Title
written by Bill Beck, May 27, 2006
Tom, by itself the HLS license does not qualify an individual to hold the position of Title I Reading Specialist. More information would need to be known to accurately assess if a person that qualifies as a HLS would also qualify as a reading specialist. I'd suggest that you have the teacher request TSPC to do a HQT evaluation for the Title I Reading Specialist position. It is important that a full description of the teacher's duties be presented to TSPC when requesting this assessment.
High School HLS highly qualified status
written by Dan Gray, June 09, 2006
I have taught special education at the secondary level for 19 years. I hold a handicapped learner endorsement and a masters in special education from the University of Oregon. Can I possibly be understanding this correctly, that I am not highly qualified to teach high school special education? Could you clarify?
High School HLS highly qualified status
written by Bill Beck, June 12, 2006
Dan, under the rules of NCLB, high school special education teachers must meet the content requirements in any of the core subjects for which they are the teacher of record and the content is at or above the 9th grade level. For example, if you are the only math teacher for a particular student and you are teaching algebra to that student, you must meet the same content requirements as other math teachers. If you are supplementing a student's work in math that is being taught by another teacher, you would not have the same requirements.

If you are teaching any subject below the 9th grade level, you would need to have taken and passed a multible subject area test during your career in order to be highly qualified.

I would suggest you contact Pam LaFreniere at TSPC and request a HOUSSE Evaluation. am.LeFrenier@state.or.us'>Pam.LeFrenier@state.or.us phone: 503-373-1060

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This page was last updated on Thursday, May 25, 2006 .