General Education Teacher Preparation

Which States Require Field Experiences with Students With Disabilities?

About this Snapshot

This policy synopsis presents states’ field experience policies for general education trainees and the extent to which they require experience with students with disabilities. With more than 60 percent of students with disabilities receiving services in the general education classroom for 80 percent or more of their day, it is imperative that all educators are adequately prepared to support students with disabilities in accessing the general education curriculum.

Note: This policy synopsis was developed using the CEEDAR Center policy database (, entries to which were vetted by state department personnel between June, 2014, and October, 2015. All but three states validated the information in the profiles. States seeking to update or revise information in their profiles may contact Paul Sindelar ( In the table below, only states with relevant policies are listed.

StateClinical ExperiencesCoursework Requirements for Instructing Students With DisabilitiesOther
Duration and IntensitySpecificity of Language Concerning Students With Disabilities
AlabamaNot specifiedAll candidates shall participate in field experiences or internships that include students with exceptionalities and students from diverse ethnic, racial, gender, linguistic, and socioeconomic groups.
Field experiences and internships shall provide opportunities for candidates to develop and demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions for helping all students learn.
The program shall provide candidates with a conceptual understanding of how knowledge, dispositions, and skills related to diversity are integrated across the curriculum, field experiences, clinical practice, assessments, and evaluations.General preparation programs granting a class B (bachelor’s degree level) certification are required to provide “a survey of special education course.”
FloridaNo specific length of time, but clinical experiences must include a culminating experience of no less than 10 weeks in diverse settingsThe program must also provide each teacher candidate with clinical time in diverse K–12 classroom settings teaching special populations, including a culminating experience of no less than 10 weeks in duration15 semester hours that include effective instructional strategies for diverse learners
IowaEach teacher candidate must participate in field experiences, including both observation and participation in teaching activities, in a variety of school settings and totaling at least 80 hours’ duration, with at least 10 hours occurring prior to acceptance into the program.
The student-teaching experience for initial licensure includes full-time experience for a minimum of 14 consecutive weeks during the student’s final year of the practitioner preparation program.
Each teacher candidate demonstrates, “within specific coursework dedicated to understanding exceptional learners, in other coursework, and in clinical experiences, the necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions toward meeting the learning needs of all students,” including “students with disabilities.”Must complete specific, dedicated coursework in “understanding exceptional learners and in obtaining the necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions toward meeting the learning needs of all students, including students with disabilities”
IllinoisNot specifiedProgram is required to incorporate Standard 3(c) of National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards into its curriculum. This standard specifically requires clinical and field experiences with students with exceptionalities.No specific coursework requirements
Candidates must complete at least 9 weeks of full-time student teaching in the later stages of the undergraduate program.
Junior High/Middle School Candidates must complete laboratory experiences that are specific and continuing pre–student teaching field experiences beginning as early as possible in the teacher preparation program. Candidates must also complete at least 9 weeks of full-time student teaching in a junior high and/or middle school in the later stages of the undergraduate program.
For elementary and middle school teacher candidates, every effort shall be made to include experiences in education of students with disabilities. Clinical experiences with students with disabilities are not required for secondary teachers.Elementary and secondary teachers must complete an education program and pedagogy, including but not limited to differentiation of instruction and teaching methods, including methods for teaching students with exceptional needs.
KentuckyNot specifiedAccreditation for educator preparation programs may include accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), which includes field experience and clinical practice with students with disabilities.Requires the Education Professional Standards Board to set teacher standards that reflect national standards and address, among other things, methodologies to meet diverse educational needs of all students
MaineNot specifiedThe program must provide opportunities for all candidates to participate in field experiences or clinical practice that include students with exceptionalities.Programs should help candidates become aware of different teaching and learning styles that are shaped by cultural influences and the candidates are able to adapt instruction and services appropriately for all students, including students with exceptionalities. Requires, based on federal mainstreaming regulations, an approved course that meets the Teaching Exceptional Students in the Regular Classroom requirement
MassachusettsTeacher candidates must complete a prepracticum and a supervised 300-clock-hour practicum. In addition, all individuals in educator preparation programs must assume full responsibility of the classroom for a minimum of 100 hours.As a requirement of initial licensure, all educators must have “training in strategies for effective inclusive schooling for children with disabilities,” including “practical experience in the application of these strategies.”May include prepracticum coursework that is directly related to the licensure requirements and that is designed to prepare candidates for the practicum by acquainting them with schools and classroom environments
MinnesotaNot specifiedState policies require preparation programs, in providing clinical and field experiences to teacher candidates, to ensure that they include students with disabilities.Not specified
MontanaNot specifiedProfessional Educator Preparation Program Standards require all candidates to participate in field experiences or clinical practice that includes students with exceptionalities.State policy requires teacher preparation programs to clearly articulate the proficiencies that program, curriculum, and accompanying field experiences are designed to help candidates understand and the importance of diversity in teaching and learning. Candidates should become aware of different teaching and learning styles shaped by cultural influences and be able to adapt instruction and services appropriately for all students, including students with exceptionalities.
NebraskaTeacher preparation institutions must require a student teaching experience: full-day for one semester (at least 14 weeks) or a minimum of 10 weeks full-day for each of two field endorsements.All candidates participate in field experiences or clinical practice that includes students with exceptionalities.

Teacher candidates must earn a minimum of 3 semester hours of credit for coursework in special education, which provides each candidate with knowledge of:

  • The exceptional educational needs of students with disabilities

  • The major characteristics of each disability in order to recognize its existence in children

  • Various alternatives for providing the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities

  • Methods of teaching children with disabilities in the regular classroom

  • Prereferral alternatives, referral systems, multidisciplinary team responsibilities, the individualized education plan process, and the placement process

New HampshireNot specifiedProfessional educator preparation programs are required to design varied field experiences that require candidates to interact with diverse learners and in diverse settings.

Graduates of professional educator preparation programs must demonstrate evidence of:

  • An understanding of how learners develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the personal, physical, social, and academic dimensions

  • The ability to facilitate developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences based on the unique needs of each learner

  • Ensuring inclusive learning environments that allow each learner to reach his or her full potential

  • The ability to employ universal design principles and assistive technology

New YorkAt least two college-supervised student-teaching experiences of at least 100 clock hours over at least 20 school days each or at least two college-supervised practica with individual students or groups of students of at least 20 school days each. Must be within high-need schools with students with disabilities. At least 15 of the 100 clock hours of field experience must include a focus on understanding the needs of students with disabilities.Field experiences must provide candidates with experiences with students with disabilities.

Teacher candidates must be provided at least 3 semester hours of study in developing “the skills necessary to provide instruction that will promote the participation and progress of students with disabilities in the general education curriculum.”

The 3-semester-hour requirement must include study of:

  • Categories of disabilities

  • Identification and remediation of disabilities

  • The special education process and state and federal special education laws and regulations

  • Effective practices for planning and designing coteaching and collaboration with peers

  • Individualizing instruction

  • Applying positive behavioral supports and interventions to address student and classroom management needs

North CarolinaNot specifiedApproved teacher preparation programs are required to meet the NCATE or TEAC standards that address clinical experiences with exceptional students

Teacher preparation programs for all students should include competencies in:

  • The identification and education of children with disabilities

  • Positive management of student behavior and effective communication techniques for defusing and deescalating disruptive or dangerous behavior

OregonNot specified“Through field experiences, candidates must develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn.” The preparation program must evaluate the candidate’s “development and demonstration of knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions to help all students learn,” including students with exceptionalities.Teacher candidates should “know and demonstrate the content knowledge pedagogical content knowledge and skill, pedagogical and professional knowledge and skills, and professional dispositions necessary to help all students learn.”Requires each student teacher preparing for an Initial I Teaching License to assemble and analyze “two work samples to document the candidate's ability to demonstrate knowledge, skills and professional dispositions.” Work samples include “instructional plans...that include differentiation of instruction for all students,” including students with exceptionalities.
PennsylvaniaNot specifiedTeacher preparation programs must provide candidates sequential field experiences (that may begin as early as the initial semester of college enrollment, prior to student teaching), internships, and clinical experiences that provide candidates with opportunities to study and practice in a variety of communities with exceptional populations.Policy requires teacher preparation programs to have a procedure to assess or confirm a candidate’s competency to begin his or her professional role prior to completion of the program and recommendation for professional educator certification. This must include evidence that the teacher understands how students differ in their ability and approaches to learning and creates opportunities that foster achievement of diverse learners in the inclusive classroom.
TennesseeNot specifiedStudent teachers shall have direct teaching experiences with students with diverse learning needs and varied backgrounds in at least two classrooms, which may be in different schools during their internship. The related field and laboratory experiences should enable the teacher candidate to meet performance standards in teaching all students including students with disabilities.All teacher-training institutions are encouraged to offer, and encourage all students to take, a course specifically designed for prevention and intervention strategies in behavioral/emotional disorders. This course should include information from the fields of psychology and education.
TexasNot specifiedEducator preparation programs are required to provide evidence of ongoing and relevant field-based experiences throughout the educator preparation program in a variety of educational settings with diverse student populations, including observation, modeling, and demonstration of effective practices to improve student learning.Requires that the curriculum for each educator preparation program relies on scientifically based research to ensure teacher effectiveness and alignment to the TEKS exam. The curriculum for candidates seeking initial certification must include special student populations.
VermontNot specifiedRequires programs to offer candidates a variety of field experiences in classrooms that serve students with a range of abilities, including students with exceptional needsRequires preparation programs to provide candidates the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to address issues of diversity (individuals with exceptionalities in learning) in the context of teaching and learning
WashingtonRequires clinical practice (defined as supervised planning, instruction, and reflection) for teacher candidates to consist of “no less than 450 hours in classroom settings”Requires teacher candidates to have “significant interactions with diverse populations,” including students with exceptionalitiesDoes not require specific coursework in teaching students with disabilities
West VirginiaSpend a minimum of 12 weeks in the clinical portion of the preparation program in each area in which they are seeking an endorsementThe institution is required to provide candidates with field-based and/or clinical experiences with diverse (multicultural), at-risk, and special-needs learners at each programmatic level of anticipated licensure.

State program approval rules require all general education preparation programs to contain at least 6 hours of preparation in special education, including a focus on

  • The impact of each disability

  • The use of evaluation data generated from special education to assist with instruction

  • The effective and efficient use of consultation

Contains language that specifically requires teachers to create learning environments that are supportive of all students and take into account individual differences. However, it does not specifically require knowledge or skills in working with students with disabilities.
All general education preparation programs must also address differentiating instruction for diverse learners.
WisconsinNot specifiedClinical experiences must provide candidates with the opportunity to interact with and adapt instruction for students with disabilities.

The conceptual framework of the teacher preparation program must enable all candidates to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • Procedures used for assessing and providing education for children with disabilities, including the roles and responsibilities of regular and special education providers

  • Modifying the regular education curriculum when instructing students with disabilities