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Early Childhood Special Education

This licensure qualifies an individual to work with children with disabilities birth to age five. These children may have disabilities in the areas of cognition, communication, motor, adaptive (self-help), and/or social/emotional. The emphasis in this program is to provide embedded instruction of children's learning goals when and where they are needed during typical classroom routines and activities.

Director:

Barbara J. Fiechtl, M.S. , Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation, is the Director of the Early Childhood Alternative Teacher Preparation Program.

Admission to the Early Childhood-ATP program requires that you:

  • have a bachelors degree
  • have been hired by a Utah school district as a preschool special education teacher
  • have taken and passed the basic literacy and math assessments

Passing both tests is required for admission to the program and before being hired by a district. The tests may be administered by district special education directors or other approved district personnel. Completed tests are sent to the EC-ATP program director for grading.

After taking the tests, you will receive written confirmation that you have passed both assessments or that you will need to schedule a time to re-take the assessments. You may attempt each test three times. If you do not pass both tests, you cannot apply to the EC-ATP program.

  1. Before being hired by a Utah school district as a preschool special education teacher on a letter of authorization, you must pass a writing and math test.  You must also have a bachelors degree in any area to be admitted to the EC-ATP program.
  2. Upon being hired by a Utah school district as a preschool special education teacher, you will recieve further instruction from your district.
  3. Contact EC-ATP program advisor Patti Bodine 435-797-0861. Patti will require the following information:
    • your name, address, phone number and email address
    • the district with whom you have been employed
    • copies of all university transcripts
  4. Review the EC-ATP Courses to identify the class or classes for which you will register. Patti will let you know if any of the EC-ATP classes can be waived based on courses listed in your transcript.
    Your first class will be the summer "Orientation to Teaching Young Children with Disabilities" class. This is a week-long workshop held in on the USU campus in Logan. Teachers hired after the orientation class (held the last week of July) should contact Patti Bodine or Barbara Fiechtl for more information.
  5. Register for courses through any USU Continuing Education site  by phone or in person. All class registration must be conducted at your USU Continuing Education/Extension site, not through USU's on-campus registration office.
Course Title / Description Instructor(s) Syllabus
SPED 5230 Student Teaching in Special Education - ATP-EC
Student teaching for students in alternative teacher preparation programs.
Deer, M.
SPED 5560 Utah Effective Practices Conference in Special Education and Rehabilitation
Practicum or seminar providing information/experience in public school instruction.
Lignugaris/Kraft, B.
SPED 5700 Orientation to Teaching Young Children with Disabilities
Provides an overview of recommended practices related to effective instruction and behavior management strategies for preschool-age children with disabilities. While emphasizing basic teaching skills and knowledge, prepares beginning early childhood special education teachers for the first days and weeks in their classrooms.
 
SPED 5720 Assessment for Eligibility, Programming, and IEP Development
Covers principles of standardized assessment, curriculum-based assessment, and direct child observation. Instructs teachers in how to use assessment results to determine student eligibility for special education services and IEP development.
 
SPED 5740 Effective Instruction & Instructional Strategies I
Provides information on curricula, instructional strategies, progress monitoring of children’s IEP goals, service environments, and staffing roles for preschool special education teachers.
Fiechtl, B. J.
SPED 5750 Language & Communication in Diverse Learners
Instructs teachers in how to adapt classroom activities and instruction to include and target children with various communication disabilities. Addresses the use of augmentative communication and various curricula to teach emergent literacy skills.
Dilworth, V.
SPED 5760 Effective Instruction & Instructional Strategies II
Expands on the knowledge of curricula, instructional strategies, and progress monitoring of children’s IEP goals covered in SPED 5740. Addresses young children’s challenging behaviors, as well as the use of functional behavioral assessment and applied behavior analysis principles.
Fiechtl, B. J.
SPED 5770 Early Childhood Development and It's Relationship to Working with Young Children with Disabilities
Addresses how to use knowledge of typical early childhood development to inform instruction and program development for preschool-age children with disabilities.
Ballard, D.
SPED 5780 Foundations in Special Education & Legal Issues
Provides information about disabilities, the historical development of special education services, service-delivery environments, family involvement, teaming, and legal issues concerning the provision of special education services to young children with disabilities.
Fiechtl, B. J.
SPED 5850 Field Based Applications of Effective Instruction I
Provides opportunities for teachers to apply in their classrooms the instructional principles learned in SPED 5740.
Fiechtl, B. J.
SPED 5860 Field Based Applications of Effective Instruction II
Provides opportunities for teachers to apply in their classrooms the instructional principles learned in SPED 5760.
Fiechtl, B. J.
SPED 5870 Field Based Applications of Effective Instruction III
Designed to help teachers prepare for student teaching. Identifies teaching skills in need of assistance, then develops action plans. Reviews classroom teaching and portfolio requirements.
Fiechtl, B. J.
SPED 6030 Clinical Practicum: Student Teaching
Deer, M.
SPED 5810 Seminar and Field Experience with Infants and Families
Reviews infant medical issues, health, safety, syndromes, and low-incidence characteristics. Also includes a practicum component. Students participate, both in the home and in early intervention settings, with families having infants with disabilities.
Ballard, D.
Description of Alternative Preparation Program

Why does the Alternative Teacher Preparation Program exist?

There is a continuing shortage in Utah, and the nation, of qualified personnel who are able to provide high quality instructional programs to preschool children with disabilities. One reason for this shortage is that higher education special education training programs are unable to keep pace with the increasing needs of school districts for qualified special education teachers. One answer to this challenge has been the development of alternative preparation training programs. Alternative preparation programs prepare prospective educators in nontraditional ways and provide a means by which qualified individuals may assume professional roles. The primary goal of a high quality alternative preparation program is to design teacher preparation courses and experiences that permit individuals to obtain licensure while working full time in a participating school district.

What are the primary characteristics of Alternative Teacher Preparation (ATP) programs?

Alternative preparation programs typically share the following characteristics:

  • Students in alternative programs may not have a background in education.
  • Their undergraduate background may be in another field.
  • Students in alternative programs assume a professional teaching position at the same time they begin taking course work for their alternative preparation program.
  • Alternative preparation programs emphasize carefully monitored and supervised field-based (classroom) experiences. The provision of ongoing training and supervision by district-provided instructional coaches, principals, and higher education faculty is central to the establishment of a high quality alternative preparation program.
  • Alternative preparation programs require academic coursework to be taken concurrently with the fieldbased/classroom teaching experiences.

What is unique about Utah State University's Early Childhood Alternative Teacher Preparation Program?

The program at Utah State University is a collaborative effort among Utah State University, local participating school districts, and the Utah State Office of Education. In addition to course work and supervision provided by the University, participating local districts are involved in monthly advisory board meetings and are key to providing on-the-job supervision and support to the alternative-preparation student.

Coursework is geared specifically to prepare the alternative-preparation student to work in public school settings with children who have disabilities, including Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

What kind of students are served by teachers with an early childhood special education license?

This license qualifies an individual to work with children with disabilities birth to age five. These children may have disabilities in the areas of cognition, communication, motor, adaptive (self-help), and/or social/emotional.

Which districts participate in the Utah State University Early Childhood Alternative Teacher Preparation (EC-ATP) Program?

The EC-ATP program is open to all Utah school districts.

Program Structure of the USU Early Childhood ATP Program

What are the program's course requirements?

EC-ATP is a two-year program that consists of 27 semester hours. There is a direct relationship between what is taught in the weekly classes and what is required on the job in the special education setting. Students register for six credits of course work each fall and spring semester, and 1 to 2 credits for each of two summer semesters.

During year one of the program, a one-week orientation workshop is held before the beginning of the school year (the last week of July) and is mandatory for all new students in the program.  See EC-ATP Courses.

Where are classes held?

Since the EC-ATP program is open to all school districts in the state, courses are delivered online through the Wimba system. Students access their weekly classes via their school or home computers. Students' computers and Internet connections must meet certain minimum requirements.

District Procedures and Expectations

What criteria will local school districts use in hiring?

Applicants must:

  • have a bachelor's degree
  • successfully completed an assessment of basic literacy and math skills; and
  • be hired as a preschool special education teacher by a participating school district

Do I apply for admission to the USU Alternative Teacher Preparation Program before being hired by a district?

No. It is imperative that prospective students first be hired by a participating school district as a preschool special education teacher. Prospective students need to adhere to district hiring procedures when applying for a position. USU's Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation cannot admit a student who has not been hired by a participating school district. In addition, individuals working in general education classrooms, private schools/programs, or correctional facilities/YIC programs are not eligible for admission to the USU Early Childhood Alternative Teacher Preparation Program. Students from Utah State Office of Education's Alternative Route to Licensure program are not eligible to participate in the USU Alternative Teacher Preparation program for special education licensure.

What factors do districts use to determine whom to interview?

School districts have an obligation to fill vacancies with qualified candidates. Teachers already employed by a district who are requesting a transfer, candidates who hold a teaching license in an area other than early childhood special education (ECSE), and candidates with the majority of their coursework completed for ECSE licensure are typically given priority consideration for open positions. When school district vacancies are greater than the number of licensed candidates, districts hire individuals on a letter of authorization.

What should I expect once I have had my screening interview with a district?

After district special education personnel conduct screening interviews, candidates who are being considered for open positions will be contacted. Schools will interview a pool of candidates and make their hiring decisions. Individuals who are offered employment must meet all requirements of the district for hiring. This will include a required background check. You will be expected to pay a mandatory fee for the background check.

Financial Expectations and Obligations

What are tuition costs?

Tuition for ATP classes is charged at a special rate of $278.00 per credit hour. No additional fees are added to the total tuition cost.

Is financial aid available?

  1. Request a FAFSA pin number at www.pin.ed.gov.  This pin number will be your signature when you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  2. With your 4-digit FAFSA pin number, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid on-line at www.fafsa.ed.gov.  Use your Federal Tax return information from the previous year to complete the application, and list Utah State University as the school to send the information to.  Utah State University's school code is 003677.
  3. Be admitted to USU as a matriculated student.  Fill out and submit the USU Financial aid application.  You will only be eligible for loans.
  4. Contact the USU Financial Aid Office for more information.  (Email , Phone )

What about textbooks?

Textbooks are required for some classes in this program. However, whenever possible, readings are included as links in course syllabi. For those classes which require textbooks, ordering information is included in the course syllabi.

Do school districts help with out-of-pocket expenses?

As part of the collaborative nature of the program, school districts supplement your out-of-pocket expenses by:

  • paying the stipend for the instructional coaches who will assist you throughout your EC-ATP program,
  • providing some required supplemental materials.

School districts DO NOT provide stipends or reimbursements for tuition or textbooks for students enrolled in this program.

When is tuition due?

Tuition becomes due typically just prior to the first week of each semester. You will receive an overview of your classes and course numbers for each semester during the summer Orientation Workshop. Following this training, you can register and pay for classes through any USU Continuing Education site. Class registration must be conducted by phone or in person at a USU Continuing Education site, not through USU on-campus or on-line registration.

Must I also be admitted to Utah State University?

NO. EC-ATP is a "certification - only" program. The only admission process you must complete is admission to USU's Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation (see: "Next Steps" below).

Program Expectations and Outcomes

Is the program rigorous?

Yes. Anytime an individual takes on a new, and probably unfamiliar, job and is also taking university coursework, the challenges are great. When other aspects of one's life are also factored in, most notably family responsibilities, the challenges presented to students in the Alternative Teacher Preparation program are significant. There are tests to study for, assignments to complete, and textbooks to read and study in addition to fulfilling the responsibilities of a new job as special education teacher. It is a very ambitious program.

What does it take to succeed in the program?

Key personal qualities that immediately come to mind are: efficient and effective time management, hard work, focus, commitment, a positive attitude, the ability to adapt and accept feedback, and a sense of humor. In addition, you must:

  • pass all classes with a grade of C or better
  • pass student or clinical teaching with a grade of Pass
  • be employed as a preschool special education teacher in a Utah school district for the duration of your program.

What supports will there be?

There are many. Supports include:

  • a licensed and experienced preschool special education teacher to coach you;
  • highly qualified course instructors;
  • district training and support; and
  • a cohort group of alternative preparation teachers in similar situations.

What will I learn in the program?

  • You will learn how to teach
  • You will learn how to analyze student behavior
  • You will learn how to manage behavior positively
  • You will learn how to use research-validated teaching strategies
  • You will learn how to communicate what you're doing
  • You will know special education law
  • You will know how to motivate students
  • You will learn how to analyze your own teaching
  • You will learn how to be an advocate for the students you teach
  • You will learn about the IEP process
Next Steps

What should I do next?

Once you have been hired by a Utah school district as an unlicensed preschool special education teacher, begin the ATP - Early Childhood admission process. Contact:  Patti Bodine , the EC-ATP Advisor.