I. Overview of the Master of Arts Degree in Special Education Leadership: Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
The Master of Arts degree degree in Special Education Leadership: Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) program is designed to prepare students to become experts in the implementation of MTSS. It provides the opportunity to improve student achievement and reduce problem behavior by accurately identifying students’ needs, preventing academic and behavior problems and further identification of students needing special education services, and providing research-based instruction within a positive school climate.
Graduates of this program will obtain the skills necessary to make data-based decisions for students and be able to implement MTSS to facilitate evidence-based behavior and academic learning in the classroom setting.
II. Admissions Policies
All applicants must complete 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.
We strongly recommend that you seek 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. 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. We also look for evidence of leadership in special education, and strong and detailed letters of recommendation. Your professional goals should be consistent with the objectives of the degree program.
The university’s online application system is available here: http://grad.msu.edu/apply/. Please contact the program secretary, Mellissa Davis with any questions. The deadline to apply for Summer semester is Feb 1st of each calendar year.
III. Program Features and Courses
All Special Education MA courses are completed online, and all course projects, practicums, and internships are completed in your classroom or educational setting—or in one that you locate and that meets program requirements. Thus, it’s very important that 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 other day (preferably every day).
An internet connection that permits you to access a wide range of Internet sites (including YouTube) without restrictions and that does not limit you to a particular browser. (See Item # 3 below.)
Access to the Learning Management System (i.e. Desire2Learn) at MSU). Visit: https://d2l.msu.edu/d2l/loginh/
The capability to record sound on your computer (which may mean a microphone and/or software, depending on your computer)
Install and use a virus detection and repair software package, and back up your work regularly.
We highly recommend that 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 your practicum and internship classes.
Individual courses may have other requirements, e.g., Skype, webcam. The instructor of a course will let you know if you need other technology and/or programs.
When you are admitted to the program, you are assigned an advisor. The advisor’s primary responsibility is to make sure each student is taking the appropriate coursework. As discussed below, you should work closely with you advisor when developing a plan for your coursework. You should feel free to contact your advisor at any time.
Coursework and Your Work
The Master of Arts degree in Special Education Leadership: MTSS is available under Plan B (non-thesis). Students must complete a total of 30 credits.
Another consideration is the degree to which you can transfer credits into the MA program. In all cases, courses can be transferred into the program only if they were not counted toward a previous degree. Up to 9 credits of equivalent graduate credit may be transferred into the MA program, in most cases. Students who completed the Teacher Education or Special Education undergraduate program at MSU may, under most circumstances, transfer between 6 to 12 post-BA credits.
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 (http://education.msu.edu/academics/gradforms/MAExtensionRequest.doc). You must apply in writing to be considered for an extension.
You should make sure you consult with your advisor about these and other requirements so that you will be eligible for any desired endorsements, and so that you will graduate in a timely manner.
A plan for 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 that you consult with your advisor to understand the factors that influence the final program plan. Your program plan is due in the special education office by the start of your second semester of study, but we encourage you to complete it sooner.
Program Plan Forms are provided in Appendix A. Any changes to the official program plan must be approved by a student’s advisor.
Scope and Sequence of Courses
Descriptions of the courses offered in the Master of Arts in Special Education Leadership: MTSS program are available in Appendix B. Special Education MA courses are typically offered once a year and are spread over the summer, fall, and spring semesters. 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 that we may not be able to predict in advance.
Minimum GPA and Grades in Masters 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.
Thus, as required by University policy, you must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 in all our graduate coursework you take within the special education masters program.
In addition, the special education program has a strong commitment to the clients that we serve—including the students in our schools who will one day be taught by our graduates. Thus, we require that masters students obtain a 3.0 in all required courses in the special education masters program. Required courses include all those courses that you are required to take in the emphasis area (LD). They include internship and practica. In addition, you must 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 obtain below 3.0 in a course, you will be required to re-take that course and obtain 3.0 before you can graduate from the program. If you have below 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.
In summary, you must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0, per University requirements. If your cumulative grade-point average falls below 3.0 for a semester, you will be on probation. If your cumulative grade-point average does not improve to 3.0 in the subsequent semester, you will be dismissed from the special education masters program.
In addition, you must also obtain no lower than 3.0 in all required courses within the special education masters program. If you obtain below 3.0 in a required course, you will be required to retake that 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..
MA Certifying Exam
MSU requires that all MA students complete a Master’s comprehensive examination known as the Certifying Examination. The Certifying Examination is a test that you must take near the end of your program, if you wish to obtain a masters degree. If a student fails the certifying examination, they are allowed one opportunity to retake the examination during a subsequent examination period. You must be enrolled in at least 1-credit hour to be eligible to take the exam. The Masters Program Coordinator can provide you with more information about the certifying examination during the course of the program.
Graduation/Diploma. You must apply to graduate through the Registrar’s office at Graduate Application during the first week of the semester you expect to graduate. If you are graduating Summer semester, apply by the first week of Spring semester.
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.
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 . Students must also abide by the bylaws and policies of the Department of Special Education.
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 Ed. course), your supervisor (if the problem is specific to a practicum or internship), 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 C. 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.
MA in Special Education: Academic Honesty and Ethical Principles and Practices
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 practicums 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 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. 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 MA 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 MA Certifying Exam. Violations in academic integrity may result in dismissal from the special education program without the award of a degree or endorsement.
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. Record 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)