Early Childhood PK-4 and Special Education PK-12 Program Mission Statement
The School of Education at Westminster College aims to prepare PreK-4 early childhood and PreK-12 special education 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 that is respectful of all individuals. The faculty seeks to model the personal attributes and pedagogical practices which distinguish the teaching profession at its best.
Students are encouraged to build a professional knowledge base through study in the Westminster Plan, the Intellectual Perspectives, general course work, and professional education. Meaningful classroom experiences, multiple opportunities with children and youth, and partnerships with schools and agencies enable students to connect 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 preparing professional educators are 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 required credentials for initial certification. The program outcomes are consistent with the standards, guidelines, and outcomes of the College and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
- Students will be able to define and provide characteristics, causes, resources, and strategies to support learning for the ten disabilities as outlined by IDEA.
- Upon completing the dual major program, candidates will demonstrate cognition, development, and learning competencies that lead to PreK-4 certification.
- Upon completing the dual major program, candidates will demonstrate content pedagogy competencies that lead to PreK-4 Early Childhood and PreK-12 Special Education certification.
- Upon completion of the dual major program, candidates will demonstrate competencies in assessment, leading to PreK-4 Early Childhood and PreK-12 Special Education certification.
Westminster College is approved by the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the preparation of Early Childhood Education PK-4 and Special Education PK-12. All education programs leading to certification require the Basic Skills Assessment or meeting the SAT/ACT score criteria and appropriate certification or 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.
A sequence of learning opportunities and experiences is planned by the faculty to develop personal and professional growth and to meet the requirements for teacher certification. The faculty members 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 meet certification requirements as set forth in the School Laws of Pennsylvania and in the commonwealth-approved teacher education programs offered by the College.
It is the student's responsibility to complete and file the following documents and applications:
- 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;
- An advisement sheet needs to be completed in the spring semester of the sophomore year;
- An application for student teaching to be completed by November 30 of the junior year;
- A review of the graduation audit in the spring semester of the junior year;
- An application for state teaching certification during the final semester;
- Current PPD test prior to activities in the public schools; and
- 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 the timely completion of courses in sequence.
NOTE: Changes in state requirements take precedence over information printed in this Undergraduate Catalog.
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 or the special education Teaching and Learning Laboratory. To be certified to teach, students must also pass the certification tests for PreK-4 Early Childhood and the Special Education PK-12: Special Education Core Knowledge and Applications (5354). For Special Education Pre-12 certification, the teacher candidates must also pass the Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge (5511). Dual certification candidates are exempted from taking the Fundamentals Subjects assessment if they pass the Early Childhood PK-4 teacher certification assessments. It is strongly recommended that early childhood and special education majors should complete the appropriate specialty area tests before student teaching.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education establishes the teacher certification qualifying scores. Westminster's School of Education assists in preparing students for the Pearson and Praxis examinations. Please reference the Pennsylvania Department of Education website at: http://www.education.pa.gov/Educators/Certification/CertTestingRequirements/Pages/defaultaspx.
Prerequisites to the Teaching and Learning Laboratories and Formal Admission to Candidacy
Certification-bound students must be accepted as teacher candidates or enter the candidacy phase before entering a Teaching and Learning Laboratory. The Teaching and Learning Laboratories (TLL) offer teacher candidates an intense learning experience in theoretical frameworks and methods of education coupled with 140-150 hours of practicum experience in Local Education Agencies. The Early Childhood Education PK-4 TLL is taken during the spring semester of the junior year with the subsequent Special Education PK-12 TLL taken during the first semester of the senior year. The Special Education PK-12 TLL is taken in the fall semester. Exceeding 64 semester hours and meeting the stated Early Childhood and Special Education Teaching and Learning Laboratory prerequisites constitutes formal admission to candidacy.
Requirements for entering either Teaching and Learning Laboratory are:
- A minimum all-college GPA of 3.000;
- A minimum GPA of 3.000 in ECE 201, ECE 203, EDU 231, EDU 562, ELL 206, and SED 201;
- Completion of the Writing, Oral Communications, and Inquiry portions of the Liberal Arts Core;
- Completion of the mathematics requirement (six (6) semester hours) with grades of "C" or better;
- Completion of either the life science or the physical science requirement with a "C" or better;
- Passing the Basic Skills Assessment in reading, writing, and mathematics; or qualifying scores on the SAT/ACT; or a combination of SAT/ACT scores and Basic Skills Assessment scores;
- Presentation and approval of a professional portfolio which includes experiences with children/adolescents;
- Completion of EDU 311, Teaching Science with a "C" or better;
- The recommendation of the School of Education to enter the teacher candidacy phase.
Continuance in the program depends on 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 attaining the required 3.000 GPA by the end of the sophomore year are also likely to experience difficulty 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:
- Satisfactory completion of the prescribed coursework
- Qualifying scores on the appropriate Pennsylvania Department of Education certification tests
- Recommendation for Pennsylvania certification
Students who declare an intent to major in Early Childhood PK-4 and Special Education PK-12 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 PK-4 and Special Education PK-12 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.