New York State Teacher Certification Requirements for Special Education

Jan 02, 2019

In addition to the testing requirements that all teachers in New York must fulfill, special education teachers must take additional tests to demonstrate their qualifications to teach special needs students.

No state employs more special education teachers than the state of New York. New York also pays some of the highest wages to special education teachers in the United States.

New York Special Education Teacher Requirements

Average Salary for Special Education Teachers in New York (2016)* $72,350 (Kindergarten and Elementary School); $78,140 (Middle School); $84,330 (High School)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Special education
Testing Requirements edTPA, EAS, CST for age group, CST for Students With Disabilities or Safety Net CST for Students With Disabilities

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Education Requirements

The simplest way to prepare for a career as a special education teacher in the state of New York is to pursue a bachelor's degree in special education through an accredited, approved postsecondary program. These programs cover the essential course requirements needed to qualify to teach special education, whether to elementary students or middle and high school students in subject area courses. Approved programs include the pedagogical courses that equip students to teach students of different grade levels and to teach specific subjects. Students will also study methods for teaching students with special needs. During the course of their studies, students gain practical experience through student teaching assignments. Graduates must have a recommendation letter from their college or university in order to qualify for certification.

Step 2: Pass Certification Tests

Teachers in New York must earn a passing score on their edTPA. The edTPA is used to assess an individual's teaching abilities and is based on an evaluation of a portfolio they develop during their student teaching. Beginning in 2018 through the end of 2019, elementary teachers need a score of 46 to pass the edTPA, while teachers of other grades need a score of 38. In 2020, the passing score requirements increase to 47 and 39, respectively. Beginning in 2022, elementary school teachers must earn a score of 48 to pass, while a score of 40 is required of those teaching middle or high school.

A score of 520 used to be required to pass the Educating All Students (EAS) exam. That has been adjusted to 500. In order to take the EAS exam there is a $92 fee that must be paid when registering. The EAS test is required for all teachers in New York and takes over two hours to complete.

Special education teachers must also take a Content-Specialty Test (CST) that demonstrates their ability to teach students of their chosen age group and subject. These tests involve multiple sections that cover a prospective teacher's area of expertise. Exams vary by subject, but they can take around five or more hours to complete and cost $179.

The final testing requirement is to take the CST for Students with Disabilities or the CST Safety Net for Students With Disabilities. Both test costs $134. The standard Students with Disabilities test takes more than three hours to complete, and a score of 520 is required to pass. Teachers who opt to take the Safety Net CST for Students With Disabilities must score 220 or higher. Their test is four hours long.

Step 3: Complete Certification Requirements

Once the edTPA, EAS and CST exams have been passed, there are still a few additional requirements that must be met to qualify for teacher certification in New York. All teachers must attend a Dignity For All Students Act workshop. They must provide their fingerprints and pass a background check. Once all requirements are met, aspiring teachers can apply for their initial certificate.

Teacher Certification Resources

Use the resources linked to here to prepare for the EAS exam as well as some of the CST tests available to prospective middle and high school teachers interested in working with students with special needs.

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