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How to Become a Special Education Teacher in South Carolina

Learners with mental and physical disabilities need teachers who understand their specific needs. Aspiring special education teachers in South Carolina must complete certain education, training and testing requirements to qualify for certification.

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Disabled students want a good education just as much as able-bodied students. However, disabled learners need teachers who are trained in unique learning methodologies which allow them to overcome the specific challenges they face and develop effectively. Special education teachers in South Carolina are subject to certain education and testing requirements which they must satisfy before they can apply for certification.

South Carolina Special Education Teaching Certification Requirements

Average Salaries for Special Education Teachers in South Carolina (2017)* $57,230 (Elementary), $54,290 (Middle), $56,780 (Secondary)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Special education
Testing Requirements Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators, Principles of Learning and Teaching or PPAT or edTPA, Praxis Special Education specialization test(s)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Degree

Special education teacher candidates, along with all teacher candidates in South Carolina, must complete a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Additionally, whilst studying for a degree, candidates should simultaneously complete a state-approved special education educator preparation program. This type of program will essentially require candidates to complete a major in special education alongside a minor in general education. Such programs equip candidates with the most effective instructional and assessment practices for developing learners with special needs. Special education courses typically include classes on subjects such as managing behavior and teaching reading and math to disabled students. There will also be a practicum element including a teaching placement in a local school.

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  • Teaching Gifted and Talented Students
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Step 2: Pass All Required Testing

South Carolina special education teacher candidates need to pass a series of tests, administered by ETS, to qualify for licensure. The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators tests assess candidates on basic teaching skills and comprise three tests:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading (code: 5712, pass score - 156)
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing (code: 5722, pass score - 158)
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics (code: 5732, pass score - 142)

The second test candidates must pass is a pedagogy assessment known as the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT). The PLT should be taken towards the end of a special education educator preparation program. There are four different types of PLT exam. The PLT exam a candidate should take will depend on the grade level(s) they want to teach. Candidates who want to obtain a K-12 license can take any one of the PLT exams. The PLT exam options are as follows:

  • PLT: Early Childhood (code: 5621, pass score - 157)
  • PLT: Grades K-6 (code: 5622, pass score - 160)
  • PLT: Grades 5-9 (code: 5623, pass score - 160)
  • PLT: Grades 7-12 (code 5624, pass score - 157)

Some South Carolina educator preparation programs ask teacher candidates to pass the PPAT assessment (pass score - 36) or an edTPA (the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) will accept either).

The final test(s) a candidate must pass is a Praxis Special Education subject area test. The Praxis subject area test(s) he or she should take will depend on their special education specialization. The options are as follows:

  • Deafness and Hearing Impairment
    • Special Education: Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students (5272) (pass score -160)
  • Early Childhood Special Education
    • Education: Preschool/Early Childhood (5691) (pass score - 159)
  • Emotional Disabilities
    • Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications (5354) (pass score - 151)
    • Special Education: Teaching Students with Behavioral Disorders/Emotional Disturbances (5372) (pass score - 154)
  • Learning Disabilities
    • Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications (5354) (pass score - 151)
    • Special Education: Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities (5383) (pass score - 151)
  • Mental Disabilities
    • Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications (5354) (pass score - 151)
    • Special Education: Teaching Students with Intellectual Disabilities (5322) (pass score - 143)
  • Multi-Categorical Special Education
    • Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications (5543) (pass score - 158)
  • Severe Disabilities
    • Special Education: Core Knowledge and Severe to Profound Applications (5545) (pass score - 158)
  • Visually Impaired
    • Special Education: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments (5282) (pass score - 163)

Step 3: Apply for Initial South Carolina Teaching Licensure with Special Education Endorsement

When teacher candidates have completed their bachelor's degree, educator preparation program, and required tests, they may apply for initial licensure. Applications should be submitted through SCDE's Certification Application Technology Services (CATS) online application system. A 'verification of college preparation recommendation for teacher certificate' form completed by the candidate's educator program provider should be included with the application along with official college and/or university transcripts. Candidates should instruct ETS to send their test scores directly to the SCDE.

Candidates should also apply for, and obtain, student teaching clearance and complete a fingerprinting process before they can begin teaching.

Once an application is accepted, candidates are awarded an initial educator certificate and can then apply for teaching jobs in the state. The certificate is valid for three years. Once a teacher has completed three full-time years in their licensure area, they can apply for a professional certificate which is valid for five years and is renewable.

Special Education Teacher Certification Resources

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