Initial License in Special Education: Exceptional Needs – Mild Intervention

Special Education

Initial License in Special Education (Grades 5-12)

Exceptional Needs – Mild Intervention

The graduate-level initial practitioner license in special education is earned through the Community of Teachers (CoT) program, an innovative, student-centered approach to teacher education. CoT students work closely with a faculty facilitator, a cohort of students across content fields and at different stages in their education, and a teacher mentor of their choice. Students can obtain special education licensure in Exceptional Needs – Mild Intervention at the secondary level (grades 5-12). This program can be completed online or face-to-face and is for individuals who do not currently possess a teaching license in any content area, AND:

  • Are not currently teaching and want to obtain initial licensure in Exceptional Needs: Mild Intervention, OR
  • Possess an emergency permit in Exceptional Needs – Mild Intervention and are currently teaching in an Indiana school district.

Students in this program take challenging coursework in special education that focuses on meeting the unique needs of individuals with mild/high-incidence disabilities in various educational settings. Students learn how to:

  • design lessons that incorporate practices, programs, and methods that are supported by research,
  • use assessments to inform instruction and monitor students’ progress
  • select and use assistive technology,
  • manage classroom environments,
  • collaborate effectively with school-based professionals (e.g., teachers, administrators, school psychologists), outside agencies, and students’ families,
  • support students’ social and emotional learning,
  • develop and implement high-quality individualized education plans (IEPs), and
  • support students’ content-area learning through accommodations, modifications, universal design for learning, and differentiated instruction.

The Three Pillars of CoT


CoT includes a seminar that meets weekly on Tuesday nights. Students collaborate in choosing the readings based around a chosen pedagogical theme. Students lead seminar with support from their faculty facilitator. Part of each class is dedicated to discussion of current topics in field experiences.


Each student in CoT creates a portfolio consisting of 16 expectations based on Indiana’s Ten Principles of Performance and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment Standards Consortium (INTASC) standards. Students gather evidence from their own educational background and their field experience. Students critically reflect on what their evidence means for their practice as a teacher. Completion of the portfolio leads to recommendation for licensure.

Field Experiences/Student Teaching

Extensive field experience is a cornerstone of CoT. Students choose an experienced special education teacher to be their mentor in the field. Students work with their mentor 6 hours a week during each fall and spring semester while enrolled in EDUC-S 500. During students’ final semester, they complete 12 weeks of student teaching in a secondary special education setting (grades 5-12).*

*Students on an emergency permit in Exceptional Needs – Mild Intervention who are currently employed in a special education teaching position in a school district/corporation complete their field experiences and student teaching through their employment. Students on an emergency permit are not required to enroll in M550: Student Teaching Practicum or M420: Student Teaching Seminar. During the final semester in the program, students on emergency permits enroll in EDUC-S 500: Portfolio Seminar to complete any of the 16 remaining Portfolio Tasks required for licensure.

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