Apr 20, 2024  
2021-2022 Westminster College Catalog 
2021-2022 Westminster College Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Early Childhood/Special Education, B.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Majors

The mission of the School of Education at Westminster College is to prepare PreK-4 early childhood/PreK-8 special education and secondary teachers who are distinguished by their subject matter knowledge, interpersonal capacities, pedagogical skills, and professional attitudes.

The School of Education seeks to create a community of learners in which stimulating and challenging expectations are addressed in a positive, caring, and encouraging environment which is respectful of all individuals. The faculty seeks to model the personal attributes and pedagogical practices which distinguish the teaching profession at its best.

Through study in the Westminster Plan, the Intellectual Perspectives, general course work, and professional education, students are encouraged to build a professional knowledge base. Meaningful classroom experiences, multiple opportunities with children and youth, and partnerships with schools and agencies enable students to make connections between academic work and the field of basic education at all levels. Competencies are sought in content knowledge, understanding the diversity of all learners, instructional strategies, management, communication, planning, assessment, professionalism, and collaboration.

The nobility and significance of the preparation of professional educators is acknowledged as the demands for service to an ever-changing, diverse global and technological world increases.

Upon program completion, candidates will have acquired the knowledge, demonstrated the skills, and assumed the attitudes necessary to begin a teaching career, and the credentials necessary for initial certification.

The program outcomes are consistent with the standards, guidelines, and outcomes of the College and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Teacher Preparation

Westminster is approved by the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the preparation of PreK-4 teachers. Secondary school teachers are prepared in the following fields: biology, chemistry, social studies, English, mathematics, and physics. All secondary certifications require Basic Skills Assessment or meeting the SAT/ACT score criteria and the Praxis Specialty Area test. Music, French and Spanish are K-12 certifications. Early childhood/special education, and K-8 certifications require the Basic Skills Assessment or meeting the SAT/ACT score criteria and appropriate Specialty Area tests. Graduates may be certified to teach in other states if they select their courses to meet the requirements for certification which apply in those states. Additional information may be obtained from the School of Education or from the School of Music for the music certification program.

A sequence of learning opportunities and experiences are planned by the faculty to develop personal and professional growth and to meet the requirements for teacher certification. The faculty monitor each student’s progress toward the attainment of program guidelines through course work, personal advising, supervised activities, public school practica, field experiences, and a student teaching assignment.

Students majoring in education become candidates for the B.A. degree. Students minoring in secondary education become candidates for the degree appropriate to their discipline.

Students who successfully complete the teacher education program at Westminster and the Basic Skills Assessment Examination requirements will be recommended for certification in Pennsylvania. Students who seek certification in other states can modify their programs accordingly. Generally, the courses leading to Pennsylvania certification are similar to those required by other states.

Special Requirements and Procedures for Teacher Certification Candidates

The School Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania require that the individual who intends to teach be of good moral character, and possess the personal qualities, the professional knowledge, and the pedagogical skills which parents may expect to find in teachers to whom the education of children is entrusted. Students must be able to meet certification requirements as set forth in the School Laws of Pennsylvania and in the commonwealth-approved programs of teacher education offered by the College.

It is the student’s responsibility to complete and file the following documents and applications:

  1. A declaration of major form for early childhood/special education or a declaration of minor form for secondary education to be completed during the sophomore year;
  2. An advisement sheet to be completed in the spring semester of the sophomore year;
  3. An application for student teaching to be completed by Nov. 30 of the junior year;
  4. A review of the graduation audit in the spring semester of the junior year;
  5. An application for state teaching certification during the final semester;
  6. Current PPD test prior to activities in the public schools; and
  7. Appropriate legal clearances prior to activities in the public schools. Students are advised to secure all clearances upon entrance to the program. Failure to do so may delay timely completion of courses in sequence.

NOTE: Changes in state requirements take precedence over information printed in this Undergraduate Catalog.

Certification Testing

The commonwealth requires a battery of examinations for teacher certification candidates. Early Childhood/Special Education majors must take the Basic Skills Assessment or submit SAT/ACT scores that meet the Pennsylvania Department of Education requirement to waive Basic Skills Assessment scores. The Basic Skills assessments must be passed prior to enrolling in the early childhood education Teaching and Learning Block or the special education Teaching and Learning Block. In order to be certified to teach, students must also successfully pass the Pearson PreK-4 Early Childhood assessment and the Special Education PreK-8 assessments.

For secondary education minors, either the ETS Core Academic Skills for Educators or the PAPA tests: reading, writing, and mathematics must be passed prior to enrolling in EDU 451  Teaching in the Secondary School. Early childhood/special education majors should complete the appropriate Pearson specialty area tests before student teaching. It is strongly suggested that secondary education minors complete the specialty area test before fall semester of the senior year. The qualifying scores are established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Westminster’s School of Education provides assistance to prepare students for the Pearson and Praxis examinations.

Please reference the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education website at: http://www.education.pa.gov/Educators/Certification/CertTestingRequirements/Pages/defaultaspx.

Prerequisites to the Teaching and Learning Blocks: Formal Admission to Candidacy

The SED Teaching and Learning Block is taken in either the fall semester or spring semester of the junior year with the subsequent ECE Teaching and Learning Block taken the first semester of the senior year. Exceeding 64 semester hours and meeting the stated Early Childhood/Special Education Teaching and Learning Block prerequisites constitutes formal admission to candidacy.

Requirements for entering either Teaching and Learning Block are:

  1. A minimum all-college GPA of 3.000;
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.000 in ECE 201 , ECE 203 , EDU 231 , EDU 562 , ELL 206 , SED 201;
  3. Completion of the Writing, Oral Communications and Inquiry portions of the Liberal Arts Core;
  4. Completion of the mathematics requirement (six semester hours) with grades of “C” or better;
  5. Completion of either the life science or the physical science requirement with a “C” or better;
  6. Passing the Basic Skills Assessment in reading, writing, mathematics; or qualifying scores on the SAT/ACT; or a combination of SAT/ACT scores and Basic Skills Assessment scores;
  7. Presentation and approval of a portfolio which includes experiences with children/adolescents;
  8. Completion of EDU 311 , Teaching Science
  9. The recommendation of a program screening panel during March of the sophomore year.

Continuance in the program is dependent upon maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.000 and a GPA of 3.000 in the major. In all cases, only Westminster College courses are factored into the GPA calculation. Experience indicates that students who have difficulty in attaining the required 3.000 GPA by the end of the sophomore year are also likely to experience difficulty in passing the state certification examinations.

Students who have not attained a 3.000 by the time of the sophomore portfolio review or who have not met the Praxis Series Examination requirements will be required to address the program screening panel.

Successful Completion of the Program Includes:

  1. Satisfactory completion of the prescribed course work
  2. Qualifying scores on the appropriate Pennsylvania Department of Education certification tests
  3. Graduation
  4. Recommendation for Pennsylvania certification

Students who declare an intent to major in Early Childhood/Special Education are assigned an adviser in the program and provided opportunities to explore teaching. During the sophomore year, students must complete a declaration of major form.

Students seeking to change their major to Early Childhood/Special Education should not assume program approval is guaranteed. Admission into this major is based upon a careful review of the following by a program screening panel: 1) GPA; 2) personal qualifications; 3) experiences with children/adolescents; 4) Basic Skills Assessment Examination scores; and 5) performance in courses offered by the program; 6) performance in all academic work.

All of the following Certification courses:


  • One course from World or PA History, SOC or PSY Semester Hours: 4

Visual/Performing Arts

One course


Six semester hours of English composition/literature Semester Hours: 6

(INQ 111  and WRI 111  meet this requirement)

Special Education Teaching and Learning Block

The Special Education Teaching and Learning Block is taken by early childhood PreK-4/special education PreK-8 majors who have an overall minimum GPA of 3.000 and a 3.000 in their major, and who have passed the Basic Skills Assessment in Reading, Writing, Math or met qualifying scores on the SAT/ACT.

In addition to the Special Education Teaching and Learning Block, students must also take SED 572 , the two semester hours Field Experience, preferably in the junior year of studies.

Student Teaching

Student teaching is typically completed in the spring semester of the senior year.

NOTE: Student Teacher placements are made by the School of Education. Placements are final and cannot be changed. Transportation is the responsibility of the student teacher.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Majors