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How to Become a Special Education Teacher in New York State

In New York State, special education teachers are certified when they have met the academic achievements and testing requirements of the New York State Education Department. Read on for more information!

Career Information for a Certified New York State Special Education Teacher

The process of becoming a special education teacher in New York State begins with a candidate completing an approved educator preparation program in an area of special education. This would be followed by passing the relevant assessments. At that point, the candidate would be granted an Initial Certificate to be an educator. The general requirements for an Initial Certificate are summarized in the table below.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree
Exam Requirements EAS
CST
edTPA
DASA
Certification Renewal Period Five years (initial certificate)
Requirements for Renewal Initial certificate cannot be renewed
Median Salary (2018)$83,010 (preschool special education teachers in NY)
$77,840 (kindergarten and elementary special education teachers in NY)
$83,050 (middle school special education teachers in NY)
$86,330 (high school special education teachers in NY)*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (special education teachers nationally)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Academic Requirements for the Initial Certificate

A prospective special education teacher needs to complete an approved special education educator program from an accredited college or university. The New York State Education Department keeps a list of accredited institutions on its website that provides these programs. According to this list, Canisius College offers a bachelor's of science program in Early Childhood-Special Education, College Mount St. Vincent offers a bachelor's of arts program in Special Education-Adolescence Education: Biology and Manhattan College offers a bachelor's of arts program in Students With Disabilities (7-12).

Assessment and Workshop Requirements

Everyone who wants to pursue teaching certification in New York State must pass the Educating All Students (EAS) test and the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) workshop. The EAS is a series of assessments that tests the candidate's knowledge and skills in areas such as liberal arts and sciences, teaching theory and practice as well as the area of special education the candidate is pursuing. The DASA workshop covers the areas of harassment, bullying, discrimination and cyberbullying and is offered by approved NYSDE providers such as Buffalo State College and Molloy College.

The candidate also needs to pass a Content Specialty Test (CST) in the area of special education they are pursuing. For example, there are CTS assessments for Blind and Visually Impaired as well as Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Finally, the candidate must pass the edTPA assessment for Special Education.

Fingerprint Clearance

The New York State Education Department uses the MorphoTrust/IDEMIA vendor to collect fingerprints from applicants. Candidates will register on their website where they will be further guided to approved sites as well as the completion of the process. In order to schedule an appointment, the candidate will need a code that is provided by the NYSDE. The cost of the background check is $101.75 and the fee can be paid online using a voucher code or with a credit card during the fingerprinting process.

Application Process

To begin the application for the Initial Certificate, the candidate must first get a recommendation from the certification officer at the institution that is providing the educator preparation program. This recommendation is done online and is addressed to the New York State Education Department. The certification officer will also give the candidate a checklist on how to complete the online application for initial certification using the TEACH portal. Documents such as transcripts must be sent by mail to:

Office of Teaching Initiatives

NYS Education Department

89 Washington Ave, 5N EB

Albany, New York 12234

Certificate Information

The Initial Certificate is valid for five years but it cannot be renewed as the educator is expected to meet the requirements needed to upgrade to the Professional Certificate. The educator may be granted a three-year extension starting at the expiration of the initial certificate under special circumstances such as a leave of absence and service in the Peace Corps among other things.