I. OVERVIEW OF THE MASTERS PROGRAM IN SPECIAL EDUCATION AND ASD ENDORSEMENT PROGRAM
The Masters Degree Program in Special Education offers emphasis areas in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Learning Disabilities (LD). The ASD emphasis area offers an MA with ASD endorsement or an ASD endorsement only. The program is designed for highly committed and competent teachers in K-12 settings who have the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to become professional leaders, expert practitioners, and effective collaborators. You will learn research-validated instructional methods and evidence-based practices and you will have opportunities to apply those methods in authentic classroom contexts to become highly skilled practitioners. Throughout the ASD Endorsement Program, you will engage in clinical projects and practicums that provide opportunities to administer a range of evidence-based assessments and interventions and to reflect on teaching practice with the support, feedback, and collaboration of the teaching faculty.
The specific objectives for all students in the ASD Endorsement Program are:
Acquire and demonstrate knowledge of evidence-based approaches to teaching individuals with ASD and be able to discriminate evidence-based from non evidence-based practices.
Develop the instructional fluency needed to deliver effective instruction to students diagnosed with ASDs across all ages and levels of functioning.
Develop the communication, collaboration and consultation skills that will enable you to work with youth, families, related service personnel, general educators, and community agencies to create, implement, and evaluate the highest quality programs possible.
Develop key professional dispositions, including collaboration, problem solving, continuous improvement, advocacy, and capacity building.
Attain the abilities to develop, implement, and interpret accountability and outcome-based reporting systems involving the use of objective assessment data from multiple sources, and to communicate this information in meaningful ways to stakeholders, students, families, and colleagues.
Demonstrate the disposition of a scientist-practitioner: connect theory, research, practice, and individual student outcomes to inform educational decisions and instructional practices that are accurately implemented and consistently monitored.
Foster inclusive learning environments that support diverse learners.
Expect high performance and meaningful access to the curriculum through the use of assistive technology, instructional supports, and accommodations.
II. ADMISSIONS POLICIES
All applicants must complete and submit a Department and University application along with three letters of recommendation, a goal statement, transcripts, and a copy of teaching certificate(s). In addition, international applicants must submit scores on the TOEFL. If you have taken the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), please submit these scores with your application, although they are not required.
We strongly recommend that you seek current letters of recommendation from those who can speak directly to your ability for graduate study, as well as from persons who are knowledgeable about your teaching competence and experience. Thus, letters from former professors or other supervisors of graduate or undergraduate work are especially important in addressing your potential for graduate studies. Letters from teaching colleagues, principals, and administrators that address your teaching, leadership, and academic skills and dispositions are also important. We suggest you do not rely on letters from friends and family members when you submit your application. They will not be weighed as heavily in the admissions decision.
When reviewing applications, faculty look for indicators of probable success in master’s study and evidence that there is a good match between your goals and the objectives of the emphasis area to which you have applied. Other indicators include a high level of academic performance, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the last two years of undergraduate study and in all graduate courses. Reviewers also look for evidence of leadership in special education, and strong and detailed letters of recommendation. It’s important that you can demonstrate prior experience working with children and youth with disabilities (e.g., in a school or camp program) that is relevant to program requirements and expectations. Ideally, the experience should be related to your planned area of emphasis.
The university’s online application system is available here: http://grad.msu.edu/apply/. Please contact the program secretary, Missy Davis (335 Erickson Hall, 517-355-1837, firstname.lastname@example.org) for the special education department application or you may find it here: http://edutech.msu.edu/applyMASE.php
Once applicants are accepted into the ASD program, they must begin taking courses in the program within one year. Students may defer enrollment for up to one year following admission, pending approval from the Special Education Faculty. If they delay beyond a year, they must re-apply to the program.
Students who enter the MA program without a valid Michigan teaching certificate and who wish to attain an endorsement in ASD during their masters study must complete the requirements for teacher certification in elementary or secondary education in Michigan, in addition to meeting the requirements for the master’s degree in special education. Additional information about teacher certification is available at: Teacher Certification Application. You cannot receive an endorsement in ASD unless you already have a valid Michigan teaching certificate.
III. PROGRAM FEATURES AND COURSES
All Special Education MA courses are completed online, and all course projects and practicums are completed in your classroom or an alternative educational setting that you locate and meets program requirements. Thus, it’s very important you have access to the appropriate technology. Technology requirements for participation in the program are listed below:
- High speed internet access, with the capability to access the Internet at least every day.
- An internet connection that permits access to a wide range of Internet sites (including YouTube, Screencast, and Google Plus) without restrictions and does not limit you to a particular browser. (See Item # 3 below.)
- Access to the Learning Management Systems at MSU (Desire2Learn).
- The capability to record sound on your computer (which may mean a microphone and/or software, depending on your computer).
- A webcam (does not have to be an expensive one) for participating in real time course discussions (e.g., Google+ Hangouts).
- We highly recommend you have the most recent version of Microsoft Office on your computer. We will often return papers with comments and edits, and many of us post documents in PowerPoint and Word formats. You may be able to read these documents in older versions of Office, or in other software programs, but it will be your responsibility to convert them for use in other software programs.
- A digital video camera. You will be required to videotape your teaching and submit digital videos in throughout your courses.
- Individual courses may have other requirements (e.g., Skype). The instructor of a course will let you know if you need additional technology and/or programs.
When you are admitted to the program, you are assigned a full-time, tenure-track faculty member as an advisor. The MA Program Coordinator makes every effort to assign you to an advisor who has expertise in your desired emphasis area. Students are distributed among the faculty so that each faculty has an approximately equal number of advisees—which means you may not always be advised by someone in your primary area of interest. However, all advisors are fully familiar with program requirements. The advisor’s primary responsibility is to make sure each student is taking the appropriate coursework. As discussed below, you should work closely with your advisor when developing program plans. Your advisor may also be able to help you with the difficulties you encounter in your coursework and assist you, upon request, in preparing for the Certifying Exam. You should feel free to contact your advisors at any time.
Despite best efforts to match students to advisors, a student may find it difficult to work with his/her advisor or may want to work with a different faculty member. If you wish to switch advisors, you should first speak directly to your advisor to resolve any issues you may have. If this does not resolve the issue, you can contact the Masters Program Coordinator and explain the reasons for your desire to change advisors. The Coordinator will consider your request and determine if it is possible for you to be assigned to a new advisor or to your requested advisor if s/he does not already have a full load of advisees.
Coursework Overview (see Appendix B for course descriptions)
The ASD emphasis area offers two options: (a) a special education masters degree with ASD endorsement or (b) an endorsement in ASD without a masters degree. The number of credits in each program varies, depending on your prior coursework, certification status, undergraduate institution, and the option you have chosen. Special Education graduate courses are typically offered once a year and are spread out primarily over the fall, and spring semesters (there are some summer semester courses). To facilitate your planning, we do our best to offer courses in the same sequence each year. However, the frequency and timing of course offerings can be subject to change, depending on enrollment and other factors we may not be able to predict in advance.
One key consideration in developing your program is whether you are seeking a first or second endorsement in special education. Students who hold a prior teaching endorsement in one area of special education (e.g., visual impairment, learning disabilities, emotional impairment, hearing impairment, cognitive impairment) are not required to complete another student teaching experience, known at MSU as the teaching internship (note that the internship is different from the practicum, which all students must complete).
A second consideration in designing your program is that the state of Michigan has several requirements of all students seeking a teaching endorsement or certificate. These are discussed in the section below titled “State of Michigan Requirements” and you may need to complete extra courses to fulfill these requirements. You should plan to check with your advisor to ensure you have completed the courses to fulfill the state requirements.
A third consideration is the extent to which you can transfer credits into the MA program. In all cases, courses can only be transferred into the program if they were not counted toward a previous degree. Students who completed the Teacher Education or Special Education undergraduate program at MSU may, under most circumstances, transfer up to 9 (TE) or 12 (Special Ed) post-BA credits. Students who did not complete the MSU undergraduate TE or SE program can transfer up to 9 credits of equivalent graduate credit in some cases. Note that these transfer credits cannot typically replace any of the core ASD courses (CEP 843, CEP 844, CEP 845, CEP 846, and CEP 894J).
In all cases, from the date of the first course applied to a Masters Program (including transfer courses), you have 5 years to complete the MA program. If there are extenuating circumstances, you can request an extension to allow the additional time needed to complete the program. You must apply in writing to be considered for an extension, and a favorable decision is not always guaranteed.
Please note – if you are not enrolled in courses for three consecutive semesters (e.g., summer, fall, spring), you will be automatically dismissed from the program. You may be considered for readmission into the program by completing a Readmission Form and submitting it to the Program Secretary. However, readmission is by no means guaranteed.
You should make sure you consult with your advisor about these and other requirements to ensure you will be eligible for any desired endorsements, and will graduate in a timely manner.
Minimum GPA and Grades in Graduate Courses
The program and the university hold graduate students to high standards. MSU policy states that (http://reg.msu.edu/academicprograms/Print.asp?Section=382):
Michigan State University is committed to high academic standards and expects all graduate students to excel in their particular majors.
A 3.00 cumulative grade–point average for all courses counting toward the master's degree is the minimum university standard; however, colleges, departments, or schools may establish a higher minimum standard. Each college and department or school determines whether the minimum standards must be attained at the completion of a certain number of credits or by a specified interval after the student's first enrollment in the degree program. Some colleges, departments, and schools will not permit a student to remain in a program if there is an accumulation of more than a specified number of graduate credits with lower than a 3.0 grade even though the cumulative grade–point average is 3.00. A student who fails to meet the standards set by the university, college, and department or school will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program, and appropriate action will be taken by the college, department, or school.
In addition, we require masters students to obtain a 3.0 in all required courses in the special education masters program. Required courses include all those courses you are required to take in the emphasis area and practicum. If you obtain below a 3.0 in a course, you will be required to re-take the course and obtain a 3.0 or better the second time you take the course. You may not repeat a course more than once. Failure to obtain a 3.0 in a required course after the first retake will result in dismissal from the program. You must also have a grade of 3.0 or better for any course that you wish to transfer into the masters program. This includes your post-BA coursework. If you have below a 3.0 in a course prior to matriculating into the masters program, you will not be able to transfer that course into the masters program unless it is not a required course for your special education emphasis area.
A plan of coursework is developed in collaboration with your faculty advisor. A large part of the program is specified, so the program plan is fairly predictable and similar for most students. However, program plans will differ in some respects, and it is important you consult with your advisor to understand the factors that influence the final program plan. The ASD program was designed to be completed in 1-2 years, depending on the sequence a particular student needs to complete. If you have circumstances that require additional time, you will need to speak with your advisor about those circumstances and ensure you can progress through the program at an acceptable rate. Your program plan is due in the special education office by the first day of summer session (the first day of the first semester you enroll in a course), but we encourage you to complete it sooner than the deadline.
Program Planning Worksheets are provided in Appendix A. Once your advisor approves your planning worksheet, you can download the official program plan form from the College of Education website, complete the form, and submit it to Missy Davis (email@example.com). Any and all changes to the program must be approved by a student’s advisor and a Program Change Form must be submitted to finalize the changes in a plan. MSU uses a web-based system for the completion and submission of most forms, and you will find the Program Plan and Change Forms, and others, here: Graduate Forms.
If you are seeking an endorsement in ASD, you will be required to take a practicum. The practicum ranges from 3-6 credits. Students seeking an MA and who have a special education endorsement take a 3-credit practicum. Students who are seeking the endorsement only or do not have a special education endorsement take a 6-credit practicum. The practicum is a course that involves readings and assignments related to specific course objectives. In a practicum, you are able to apply the theoretical and practical knowledge from the affiliated courses in the instruction and assessment of students with disabilities in school settings. If you are in an endorsement program, you are required to complete the practicum with the types of students in that endorsement area (i.e., students with ASD). The practicum will help you meet State of Michigan requirements for endorsement.
Students are required to track and document all hours toward fulfilling the practicum requirement. It is common for students to obtain up to 90 practicum hours through experiences related to assignments from CEP 843, CEP 844, CEP 845, and CEP 846. Thus, you will need to begin completing the practicum hours log (Appendix C) as soon as you begin taking the core ASD courses. Course instructors will provide details regarding the potential to earn practicum hours when taking these courses.
During your practicum, you will be asked to engage in a series of specific tasks in which you apply the assessment, instructional, behavioral, and collaborative skills you have learned in the masters program. The practicum can only be taken after you have completed all the other requirements of the program, and is offered in the summer and fall semesters.
Students in the program can be spread across the country and, indeed, around the world; therefore, we are not able to make arrangements for your practicums and internship. You will need to locate a setting and students that permit you to meet the practicum requirements during the time you are enrolled in the practicum course. The course instructor can help advise you of the suitability of a practicum setting. However, if you have any questions about your ability to find a suitable placement, you should immediately contact the MA Program Coordinator or your advisor. To assist you in planning for these experiences, here is a summary of the expectations and requirements necessary for the approval of any practicum setting.
Practicum Hours: Depending on the endorsement sought, 180-240 total practicum contact hours are required. Up to 90 of these hours may come from experiences that are required as part of the ASD specific courses. The remaining hours are obtained when taking the practicum course (CEP 894J). A log of hours must be completed and submitted at the conclusion of the practicum (see Appendix C for a practicum hours log).
>Instructional Group that Includes Students with ASD: In the practicum setting, you must have access to an instructional group that includes students with ASD. You may only count hours toward the practicum that are specific to providing instruction to students with ASD.
Onsite Supervisor: An onsite supervisor within the educational service agency must be identified, and the associated paperwork bearing the supervisor’s signature must be submitted in order for the supervisory arrangement to be reviewed and approved. In order for an individual to be eligible to provide supervision in the practicum setting, he or she must have a Master’s degree, meet one of the following requirements, and be approved by the MA Program Coordinator:
- Possess current ASD Endorsement and have 3 or more years experience delivering educational programming to individuals with ASD
- Possess current BCBA certification and have 3 or more years experience delivering educational programming to individuals with ASD
- Possess current CCC-SLP certification and have 3 or more years experience delivering educational programming to individuals with ASD
- Possess current School Psychologist Certification and have 3 or more years experience delivering educational programming to individuals with ASD
Appropriate Instructional Setting: Practicums must be completed in a K-12 educational setting and is directed by qualified personnel. Home-based tutoring, summer camps, or other activities conducted outside the auspices of a certified educational entity are not appropriate as internship or practicum settings.
Videotaping: Teaching videos are required as integral parts of the practicum. You will evaluate your own teaching, through the videos you create; additionally, the videos will be viewed by the course instructor(s). In some cases, you will be asked to share your teaching videos with other students in your program. Finally, teaching videos are a key piece in your teaching portfolio.
The Special Education Program at MSU requires that all students seeking an ASD endorsement successfully pass a comprehensive examination known as the Certifying Examination. The Certifying Examination is an online test that you must take to obtain a recommendation for endorsement in ASD and/or a Master’s degree from MSU. Students can take the exam after completing CEP 843, CEP 844, CEP 845, and CEP 846 and must be enrolled in at least one credit the semester they take the exam, per University policy. A new exam is created each academic year and is based on the content included in the ASD courses for a given year. The exam is created with the intention of students taking it the same semester they take practicum (CEP 894J), which should be the Summer or Fall semester immediately following the completion of CEP 845 and CEP 846. If students choose to delay taking the exam, or do not take CEP 845 and CEP 846 simultaneously, they may take an exam that includes updated course content including a new/different text, readings, and supplemental materials. No accommodations will be made in these situations.
To prepare for the exam, students are advised to keep all course materials the semester they take a course (instructors will not re-open courses for students who need materials after the semester they complete a course) and to spend several months studying content from all ASD courses. The following details explain the exam process:
- The exam is posted online for a 2-week period. The exam will only be open during the designated time each semester and it must be taken during this period.
- You only have one opportunity to open the exam and begin taking it. Once you open it, you have a designated amount of time to complete the exam.
- You need to score 80% or above to pass. This is a pass/fail exam with the cut off score for passing at 80%; there is not a conditional pass.
- There are 50 questions that will come from a pool of approximately 200-300 questions from CEP 843, CEP 844, CEP 845, and CEP 846. The online system will randomly select the 50 questions you will receive - which means each person who takes the exam will get different questions, in different orders.
- The exam must be completed independently and not with another person present. Students are referred to the academic honesty policy for more information.
- If, for some reason, you do not pass the exam on your first attempt, you have one (and only one) opportunity to re-take the exam. A retake can be taken the following semester and you must be enrolled in at least 1-credit hour (per university policy) to be eligible to take the exam.
- If a student fails the exam two times, there are no other opportunities to take the exam, and the student will be dismissed from the program without earning a Master's degree or ASD endorsement. Students who are dismissed from the program due to failing the comprehensive exam two times will not be eligible to re-apply until 5 years after the date of dismissal.
State of Michigan Requirements
If you are pursuing an endorsement in ASD, please be aware that, in addition to the special education program requirements, the State of Michigan requires all special education teachers to complete 6 credits of Human Growth and Development, as well as a technology requirement. Your advisor will review your transcript to identify courses that have fulfilled these requirements. If these requirements have not been met, then your advisor will recommend additional coursework to fulfill the State of Michigan requirements.
The State of Michigan and MSU also require 6 credits of reading methods (3 of which must be developmental reading instruction) for the professional teaching certificate, and at least 3 credits in mathematics methods (elementary math instruction). Students who do not have a developmental reading and/or mathematics methods course must meet these requirements as part of their program by taking MSU courses or taking equivalent courses at another institution to meet these requirements. However, it is important to contact your advisor prior to taking a prerequisite course to make sure that it meets requirements. If you take a course at another institution to meet these requirements, copies of the course syllabus will need to be submitted to your advisor for approval.
The Masters program meets requirements for special education endorsements only in the State of Michigan. States have varying requirements for certification/endorsement that include differences in coursework, categories of disability, sensitivity to the age of learners, and state tests. We cannot advise you regarding the requirements for certification/endorsement outside the State of Michigan. It is incumbent upon you to seek the advice of your state Department of Education if you teach or are planning to teach in a state other than Michigan.
Similarly, if you are entering the Masters program with a teaching certificate from another state, and you wish to teach special education in Michigan upon completion of the Masters program, you will need to check with the Michigan Department of Education to determine if your certification is valid in Michigan. We cannot award a special education endorsement unless your teaching certificate is valid in Michigan.
IV. REQUIREMENTS FOR THE ADDITION OF A SPECIAL EDUCATION ENDORSEMENT TO A MICHIGAN TEACHING CERTIFICATE
>Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC).In addition to the Certifying Examination required by MSU for the ASD endorsement and MA degree, the State of Michigan requires that candidates who intend to add one or more endorsements to their Michigan teaching certificates pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) in their area(s) of emphasis (e.g., ASD). Each test is designed to evaluate a candidate’s mastery of essential content in an emphasis area of special education. The appropriate test must be passed before the candidate can apply to add the endorsement. For test registration and information about the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification, please visit http://www.mttc.nesinc.com. The site also includes information about test dates, test sites, test objectives, and practice exams.
For information about applying for certification or adding an endorsement, please visit Teacher Certification Application. Questions about the certification application process should be addressed to the Certification Secretary, Student Affairs Office, 134 Erickson Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824 (517.353.5146).
Graduation/Diploma In the final semester of courses, you must apply to graduate through the Registrar’s office at http://www.reg.msu.edu/StuForms/GradApp/GradApp.asp.
V. STUDENT CONDUCT AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
The University has established a judicial structure and process for hearing and adjudicating alleged violations of recognized graduate student rights and responsibilities (GSRR, Article 5). The first venue to resolve such conflicts informally or formally rests within the academic unit. Because the faculty advisor-graduate student relationship is deemed so important, special attention should be given to the resolution of conflicts between a graduate student and his or her faculty advisor.
Student Conduct and Academic Honesty
It is important that you are thoroughly familiar with these policies before you begin work in your courses. These principles apply to all work in your graduate courses and to the Certifying Exam. Violation of these ethical principles and policies may result in a failing grade in a course and will result in a failing grade on the Certifying Exam. Violations in academic integrity may result in dismissal from the special education program without the award of a degree or endorsement. Students who are dismissed from the program due to violations in academic integrity will not be eligible for re-admission at any time.
MSU expectations for acceptable student conduct are specified in the regulations and the rights and responsibilities sections of the Spartan Life Student Handbook and Resource Guide.
In a community of scholarship and practice, all of us share the responsibility of making sure that standards of academic honesty and integrity are understood and followed. Faculty and students at Michigan State University are expected to conduct themselves with the highest character and integrity. As stated in University policy:
Academic honesty is central to the educational process and acts of academic dishonesty are serious offenses within the University community. Suspension from the University could be the consequence for acts of academic dishonesty. (Spartan Information and Services, p. 78)
As a student at Michigan State University, you are obligated to uphold MSU’s principles of academic integrity, including the responsibility that “no student shall claim or submit the academic work of another as one’s own” (MSU Graduate School Rights and Responsibilities, General Student Regulation 1.0). You should understand that no student is permitted to:
- Claim or submit the academic work of another as one’s own.
- Procure, provide, accept or use any materials containing questions or answers to any examination or assignment without proper authorization.
- Complete or attempt to complete any assignment or examination for another individual without proper authorization.
- Allow any examination or assignment to be completed for oneself in part or in total, by another without proper authorization.
- Alter, tamper with, appropriate, destroy or otherwise interfere with the research, resources, or other academic work of another person.
Source: MSU, General Student Regulations, 1989, p. 79 Integrity of Scholarships and Grades
In addition, records of all field experiences, practicums, and internships must accurately specify the hours and activities you completed in these experiences. The parties specified in the policies for that particular course, internship, or practicum must sign all forms, and all signatures must be authentic. Any inaccuracies in hours and activities reported, or any forgeries or other violations in requirements for signatures, will result in a failing grade in the practicum or internship and may lead to dismissal from the program.
In your orientation materials, you may have received several resources to help you learn more about issues related to academic integrity. In particular, you should be fully aware of policies and consequences related to plagiarism—intentional or otherwise. We refer all students to the resource “iThenticate,” which is a free resource that will allow graduate students to check papers for unintended plagiarism before submitting them. Read more at: http://tech.msu.edu/ithenticate/
Usually the best approach to resolving a problem is through informal discussion and negotiation when the problem first arises. Discussion and negotiation among the parties in a conflict may not only help to resolve the original conflict, but can lead to better communication and more positive working relationships in the future. In addition, there usually are more options for solving a problem at the early stages of a conflict than later when working relationships may become seriously compromised or when the problem grows in complexity.
Try to resolve problems through discussions with the people who are immediately involved in the issue. In the CEPSE Department, one should consider speaking with the course instructor (if the problem is specific to a special education course), your supervisor (if the problem is specific to practicum), your advisor, the special education coordinator, and/or the department chairperson.
If your problem cannot be resolved at the departmental level or if you prefer discussing the matter with someone from outside the department, consider seeking help from the MSU Ombudsman, the Judicial Affairs Office, the Women's Resource Center, Associate Dean for Student Affairs in the College of Education, or the Dean of the Graduate School.
The Graduate School conducts workshops on Communicating Your Message: Effective Communication Strategies That Work on Setting Expectations and Resolving Conflicts that are designed to help graduate students work effectively with their faculty mentors and to make good progress toward their degrees.
A student who believes his or her rights have been violated by a member of the Michigan State University community shall first attempt to resolve the dispute in an informal discussion with the appropriate individual(s). (See AFR 2.4.2 and GSRR 5.3.1and 5.3.2.)
If after this discussion, the student remains dissatisfied with the results, the student should meet with the Chair of the Department and/or the University Ombudsman to seek a resolution. (See AFR 2.4.2 and GSRR 5.3.2.)
The Department Chair may respond by asking the complainant to consult with the appropriate Program Director. This does not preclude the student’s right to consult with the Department Chair, either instead of, or after, consulting with the relevant degree Program Director.
If after this discussion, the student remains dissatisfied with the results, the student may submit to the Department Chair a written, signed request for an academic grievance hearing. The letter must (1) specify the alleged violations of academic rights to justify the hearing, (2) identify the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed, and (3) state the suggested remedy that could be implemented by the Department Chair or degree Program Director. (See AFR 2.4.2 and GSRR 5.3.2 and 5.3.6.)
A copy of the Department Grievance Policy is contained in Appendix D. Students should consult the Graduate Students Rights and Responsibilities for additional information at http://www.msu.edu/unit/ombud/index.html. At any point during this process, students may contact the University Ombudsman’s Office for advice, guidance or assistance regarding their concerns.
Professional Ethics in Practice
As teachers and scholars interested in improving outcomes for individuals with disabilities, we hold ourselves to high professional standards in our research, teaching, and other professional practices. One set of standards to which we hold ourselves and, consequently, our students, is the Council of Exceptional Children’s Code of Ethics for Educators of Persons with Exceptionalities. These professional standards are listed below:
Professional special educators are guided by the CEC professional ethical principles and practice standards in ways that respect the diverse characteristics and needs of individuals with exceptionalities and their families. They are committed to upholding and advancing the following principles:
- Maintaining challenging expectations for individuals with exceptionalities to develop the highest possible learning outcomes and quality of life potential in ways that respect their dignity, culture, language, and background.
- Maintaining a high level of professional competence and integrity and exercising professional judgment to benefit individuals with exceptionalities and their families.
- Promoting meaningful and inclusive participation of individuals with exceptionalities in their schools and communities.
- Practicing collegially with others who are providing services to individuals with exceptionalities.
- Developing relationships with families based on mutual respect and actively involving families and individuals with exceptionalities in educational decision making.
- Using evidence, instructional data, research and professional knowledge to inform practice.
- Protecting and supporting the physical and psychological safety of individuals with exceptionalities.
- Neither engaging in nor tolerating any practice that harms individuals with exceptionalities.
- Practicing within the professional ethics, standards, and policies of CEC; upholding laws, regulations, and policies that influence professional practice; and advocating improvements in laws, regulations, and policies.
- Advocating for professional conditions and resources that will improve learning outcomes of individuals with exceptionalities.
- Engaging in the improvement of the profession through active participation in professional organizations.
- Participating in the growth and dissemination of professional knowledge and skills.
Adopted by the CEC Board of Directors, January 2010
RETENTION AND DISMISSAL POLICIES
University Timelines for Completion of Degree
The University establishes explicit guidelines for the completion of graduate degrees at Michigan State University. Certifying examinations must be passed within five years and all remaining requirements for the master’s degree must be completed within five years from the time a student first enrolled as a master’s student. Students who do not finish within this time frame must fill out a Request for Extension of Time form, which can be obtained from the Masters Program Coordinator. Extension of time is not automatically granted. An advisor must approve a student’s first request; requests for a second extension require approval of the full special education faculty. A student must also specify why the first time extension was not sufficient for completing degree requirements. Each extension is for no more than two semesters, and no more than two extensions can be granted. The Dean of the College of Education must also approve each extension.
Retention and Dismissal Policies
Faculty also initiate a Review of the student’s status in the program in the event of any evidence that indicates impairment or violation of the University’s Regulations (for MSU General Student Regulations see Spartan Life: http://www.vps.msu.edu/SpLife/index.htm/), legal statutes, or ethical and professional standards. Examples of violations include, but are not limited to, criminal misconduct, academic dishonesty, unethical practices, and unprofessional behavior. Evidence of cognitive, affective, and/or behavioral impairments that interfere with the graduate preparation and/or threaten the welfare of others may also lead to a Review. Examples of impairment include, but are not limited to, substance abuse, mental health problems, and interpersonal difficulties. The Review process consists of examining the nature of the impairment, violations or alleged misconduct, and the evidence with the student. The outcome of the Review may be (a) to retain the student in good standing, (b) to allow the student to continue in the program on probationary status until specified conditions are met, or (c) to immediately dismiss the student from the program. The faculty reserves the right to restrict student’s participation in coursework, internships, and practicums during the Review process. The procedures for the Review are described below.
Retention and Dismissal Review Procedures
To protect student due process rights as well as the rights of faculty to uphold the academic and professional standards of the MA program, the following steps will be taken as part of the Retention and Dismissal Review process:
The student will be informed in writing by the Special Education Area Coordinator of any charge, event, performance, or circumstance that suggests impairment or violation of University, legal, ethical, or professional codes. Such charges or complaints may emanate from members of the Program, College, or University faculty, clinical supervisors, clients, or professionals and agents outside of the University community.
As part of the above communication, the Area Coordinator may initially advise the student to seek an informal resolution of the charge or complaint with the accusing party, and to inform the Coordinator of the outcome of this action within 30 days.
If, however, informal methods at problem resolution are inappropriate or unsatisfactory, the Area Coordinator will inform (in writing) the student, the student's advisor, and other interested parties that the student's status in the Program is being reviewed and that a formal meeting of the Program faculty will be necessary to evaluate the nature of the problem and to decide on a course of action. Depending on the nature of the charges, event, performance, or circumstance, a student’s status in the program may be in immediate jeopardy and the goal of the Review would then be for faculty to decide whether to retain or dismiss the student from the program.
The Area Coordinator may invite any persons judged to have relevant information to submit such information either in person at this meeting or in writing prior to the meeting. The student will be given copies of all written materials under consideration in advance of the meeting. The student and, if desired, his/her counsel (as defined in the Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities document) will be invited to attend this meeting and to present testimony. In addition, the student may invite other individuals who have relevant testimony to attend the meeting or to present written information. The student will provide the Area Coordinator with a list of these individuals at least 5 days in advance of the scheduled meeting.
Following the presentation of testimony and evidence, the Program faculty will convene separately to deliberate and to arrive at a decision regarding the student's standing in the Program. This decision may result in either (a) retention of the student in the program in good standing, (b) a judgment to allow the student to continue in the program on probationary status until specified conditions are met, or (c) immediate dismissal of the student from the special education program.
Following completion of the Program faculty's decision-making, the Area Coordinator will inform the student and the student's advisor (in writing) of the faculty's decision and, if appropriate, clearly specify what, if any, conditions must be satisfied by the student to maintain his or her good standing within the Program. The student also will be advised that if he or she wishes to grieve the outcome of the faculty's decision, the grievance procedures specified in Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities should be followed. This document can be obtained from the Graduate School or the Ombudsman’s Office or found on the web at http://www.msu.edu/unit/ombud/index.html.
Dismissal from the Program
The dismissal of a student from the special education masters program is a significant event for both the student and the program faculty. It represents the conclusion of the faculty that the student has cognitive, affective, and/or behavioral impairments that interfere with professional functioning or that the student has not demonstrated an adequate level of competency in either academic or instructional skills or professional conduct. Dismissal action is generally the final outcome of several informal and formal communications with the student regarding his or her unsatisfactory progress through the program and, when appropriate, special efforts at helping the student meet program requirements and objectives. The final decision regarding whether or not a student should be terminated from the program, or under what conditions a student making unsatisfactory progress will be allowed to continue, rests with the tenure-stream special education faculty.
At any point during the student's matriculation through the program, the faculty retains the right to review any student circumstances or personal performances that may negatively affect the student's competencies for independent professional practice or that may threaten client welfare. The following are offered as examples of circumstances or performances that may be the basis for dismissal action:
- Failure to maintain minimum academic standards (maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher)
- Unsatisfactory performance in practice courses (e.g., practicums, internships)
- Academic dishonesty
- Criminal misconduct
- Failure to comply with established University or program timetables and requirements
- Unethical practices and/or unprofessional conduct as specified in the Council for Exceptional Children’s Ethical Principles for Special Education Professionals
- Cognitive, affective, and/or behavioral impairments that obstruct the training process and/or the students’ interactions with learners and/or other clients.
- Failure to make satisfactory progress in completing program requirements.
- Failure to maintain regular contact with the program and internship/practicum supervisors.
VI. RECORDS POLICIES
The special education program maintains records documenting each student's progress through the masters program. These records, which are maintained in the program secretary’s files, include the program plan, records of internship and practicum supervision, certifying exam, portions of the original application to the program, and other materials that are deemed necessary. Additionally, to facilitate student advising, advisors may keep files containing such items as their advisees' grade transcripts, exam responses, and advising notes. All student records are kept in secure filing cabinets or private offices to protect students' privacy and confidentiality; only program faculty and staff will have access to this material. Students are strongly advised to maintain copies of forms for their personal records.
Students may request to examine their own files; this request should be directed to the student's advisor or the MA Program Coordinator. The only material that will be withheld is that which the student has clearly waived his or her right to examine, e.g., confidential reference letters. (Other than the latter, files generally contain records of which students already possess copies.) Once students graduate, a permanent file is only maintained by the program, which, among other things, may assist in documentation for future employment and credentialing.
Students may challenge the accuracy or completeness of any information in their records by writing a letter to the MA Program Coordinator that specifically states the information that they wish to challenge, and how they would like to see the issue resolved. The Program Coordinator will meet with the student to gain a better understanding of the issues involved, and to make recommendations about how they could be resolved. The program coordinator will then present the students’ concerns or disputes and possible resolutions to the Area Faculty, who will vote on an action to resolve the dispute. This action will then be communicated to the student in writing by the MA Program Coordinator.
The College of Education website can be accessed at this link: http://www.educ.msu.edu/.
Information for College of Education students can be accessed at the following link: http://ed-web3.educ.msu.edu/infostu/. This webpage has resources for undergraduate/teacher candidates and graduate students and for teacher education program applicants in the College of Education. You will find important information on application procedures, jobs, scholarships, financial aid, student organizations, workshops and other resources.
Graduate students in the College of Education can access resources specific to their concerns at this link: http://ed-web3.educ.msu.edu/infostu/graduate.htm. Other resources that may be of interest to online Masters students are listed below.
Learning Resources Center (LRC): provides instructional facilities, staff, and materials for MSU students interested in improving thinking, reading, writing, listening, study, time management, and test-taking skills. All services and workshops are provided free of charge. (http://lrc.msu.edu/)
Writing Center: experienced writing consultants talk one-on-one with writers of all levels of proficiency at all stages of a composition. Get assistance in brainstorming topics, organizing ideas, developing rough drafts, and fine-tuning your writing. For an answer to a quick question, use the Grammar and Usage. Hotline at the same phone and E-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org; http://writing.msu.edu)
Career Development Center (CDC): The CDC contains a comprehensive collection of books and files on thousands of career fields and 3,200 employers as well as career and employer directories, MSU curriculum files, graduate and student information, audio-visual aids, and self-evaluation modules. Students in the College of Education receive help in activating a Placement File, preparing resumes, researching employers, and preparing for job interviews. Assistance is also offered in teacher certification in career planning and teaching market research. (http://www.csp.msu.edu)
Service Learning Center: MSU students may receive placement assistance here for volunteer experiences and internships related to their majors. The office is open Monday - Friday, Noon - 5:00 pm. (http://www.servicelearning.msu.edu)
The Testing Office: registration materials for the LSAT, GRE, MCAT, and GMAT are available here, as well as foreign language placement tests. Registration materials for the NMC are available in the College of Education Student Affairs Office, 134 Erickson Hall. (http://www.testingoffice.msu.edu)
VIII. Past Handbooks
Program Handbook 2015-2016
Program Handbook 2014-2015
Program Handbook 2013-14
Program Handbook 2012-13
Program Handbook 2011-12