Content Knowledge – Key indicators: (A) Knowledge of ways to organize and present content so that it is meaningful and engaging to all learners whom they teach (pedagogical content knowledge. (B) Ability to provide accommodations, modifications, and/or adaptations to the general curriculum to meet the needs of each individual learner.
Teaching and Learning – Key Indicators: (A) Knowledge of the general characteristics of disabilities and of their impact on cognitive development and learning. (B) Knowledge of the components and characteristic of collaboratively designed and implemented individual behavioral support plans. (C) Ability to use knowledge about human learning and development in the design of a learning environment and learning experiences that will optimize each student’s achievement. (D) Ability to develop a positive relationship with every student and to take action to promote positive social relationships among students, including students from different backgrounds and abilities. (E) Ability to use individual behavioral support plans to respond proactively to the needs of all students. (F) Ability to provide a variety of ways for students with diverse needs, including students with disabilities, to demonstrate their learning.
Literacy – Key Indicator: Ability to foster effective verbal and nonverbal communications during ongoing instruction using assistive technologies as appropriate.
Diversity – Key Indicators: (A) Knowledge of the major areas of exceptionality in learning, including the range of physical and mental disabilities, social and emotional disorders, giftedness, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder. (B) Knowledge of the indicators of the need for special education services. (C) Ability to identify and refer students for diagnosis for special services. (D) Ability to address learning differences and disabilities that are prevalent in an inclusive classroom.
Professionalism – Key Indicators: (A) Knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of members of different types of teams including, but not limited to, Building Based Student Support Teams. (B) Knowledge of laws related to students’ and teachers’ rights and responsibilities and the importance of complying with those laws. Such knowledge includes major principles of federal disabilities legislation (IDEA, Section 504, and ADA) as well as Alabama statutes on child abuse and neglect. (C) Ability to share instructional responsibility for students with diverse needs, including students with disabilities, and to develop collaborative teaching relationships and instructional strategies. (D) Ability to participate as reflective members of different types of teams including, but not limited to, Building Based Student Support Teams. (E) Ability to collaborate in the planning of instruction for an expanded curriculum in general education to include Individual Education Plans and other plans such as Section 504 goals for students with disabilities. (F) Ability to keep accurate records including IEPs, especially records related to federal, state, and district policies and other records with legal implications.
Is knowledge of working with students with disabilities included in leader standards?
Two key indicators in Alabama Standards for Instructional Leaders specifically address the needs of students with disabilities: Knowledge to align curriculum, instructional practices, and assessments to district, state and national standards including standards unique to career and technical education and to special education. Ability to develop curriculum aligned to state standards, including standards unique to career and technical education and to special education.
Teacher Preparation – Program Approval/Accreditation
Required course work in teaching students with disabilities/diverse learners
Alabama Administrative Code requires an approved teacher education program’s conceptual framework(s) to reflect the institution’s commitment to preparing candidates to support learning for all students. It must provide a conceptual understanding of how knowledge, dispositions, and skills related to diversity are integrated across the curriculum, instruction, field experiences, clinical practice, assessments, and evaluations. Under Alabama Administrative Code, general preparation programs granting a class B (bachelor’s Degree Level) certification are required to provide “a survey of special education course”.
The state of Alabama collects objective program-specific data on its teacher preparation programs, sets minimum standards for program performance, and makes data publicly available on the state website. Specifically, the state collects satisfaction ratings from schools and evaluation results for program graduates. The state has also established minimum standards for its traditional teacher preparation program performance for each category of data collected and reports these data on the state’s website. Some of the data are reported at the program level. But Alabama does not set minimum standards for the performance of its alternate route programs.
Are programs reviewed based on outcomes of graduates’ success? Can teachers be linked back to institutions of higher education and preparation programs?
Our state policy review did not yield information about principal preparation program accountability.
Teacher and Principal Certification/Licensure
Teacher Certification/Licensure – Structure
Is a specific certificate, license or endorsement related to special education required?
The state of Alabama offers P-3 certification for Early Childhood Special Education, K-6 and 6-12 certification for Collaborative Special Education, and P-12 certification for teachers of students identified as Gifted, Hearing Impaired, Speech or Language Impaired, or Visually Impaired. Alabama holds its early childhood special education teachers and its elementary special education teachers to the same subject-matter testing requirements as general early childhood and elementary teachers. Further, Alabama does not require secondary special education teachers to pass content tests as a condition of licensure, although the state does articulate some coursework requirements for special education teachers. An early childhood subject-matter test is required for an early childhood special education certificate. An elementary subject-matter test is required for an elementary special ed license.
Does the state require teachers to pass a basic skills exam for initial certification? What are the pass rates on the exams? Does the state require Praxis II or more pedagogical assessment for licensure? Does it include anything about teaching diverse learners or special populations?
Anyone applying for initial Alabama professional educator certificates or alternative and preliminary certificates must pass the appropriate Praxis IItests for each area of certification they seek. Praxis II testing requirements have been phased in since 2005. In addition, applicants must meet testing requirements pertaining to basic skills assessments. Additionally, Alabama requires teachers to take Principles of Learning and Teaching for K-6 or 7-12, depending on the grade level of certificate sought.
Is professional development around working with special populations required to move from initial to a professional license?
Our state policy review did not yield information about required professional development around working with special populations in order for a teacher to move from an initial to a professional license.
Is prior teaching experience required to become a principal and/or a superintendent? Is specific coursework or other evidence required around working with special populations?
Alabama requires that candidates obtain a Master’s Degree, have prior teaching experience, complete a state-approved six-year level prep program or hold an education specialist or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited senior institution of higher education, pass a test, and meet all requirements for the professional educator certificate.
Is mentoring required for all new teachers and for how many years? If so, do program guidelines/requirements specifically address teaching diverse learners?
State law does not require induction support for new teachers. However, the Alabama Teacher Mentoring (ATM) program provides mentoring support to each first-year teacher within the first month of school. It was endorsed by a State Board of Education resolution in 2007. Designed as a two-year program, with an option of a third year based on mastery of competencies, it has since been scaled back to a mentoring program for first-year teachers only.
Is coaching/mentoring required for all new principals/administrators/ superintendents and for how many years? If so, do program guidelines/requirements specifically serving diverse learners?
Implemented for the first time in 2010, the Alabama New Principal Mentoring Program is a two-year coaching and support program for new school principals, supported by the Alabama State Department of Education through federal ESEA, Title II, Part A funding. New principal participation is not required. Each participating principal is assigned a trained mentor who will help him/her create a development plan and a “map” of various learning activities that will facilitate professional growth based upon the Alabama Continuum for Instructional Leader Development.
A 2009 law requires new superintendents to participate in the one-year-long School Superintendents of Alabama’s Mentor and Executive Coaching Program. Each new superintendent is assigned an executive coach (an experienced superintendent), who makes a minimum of eight contacts during the year, in addition to required quarterly meetings.
Does the state have professional development standards for leadership PD?
The Alabama Standards for Effective Professional Development, adopted by the State Board of Education in 2002, apply to teachers and school leaders. The standards define effective professional development as one that “requires knowledgeable and skillful school and district leaders who actively participate in and guide continuous improvement.”
This website was produced under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Award No. H325A170003. David Guardino serves as the project officer. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or polices of the U.S. Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service, or enterprise mentioned in this website is intended or should be inferred.