Changes in Certification for Special Education Teachers
As a result of the Corey H. litigation, the federal court ordered
the Illinois State Board of Education to implement Transition Rules
to guide the transition from the present system of certification
for special education teachers to the new system. Several changes
in certification will begin January 1, 2002, affecting the requirements
for special education "approvals" and authorizations for
assignment ("PZZ approvals").
Currently, school districts, special education cooperatives and
joint agreements employ teachers who do not have full certification
in special education on the basis of approvals and PZZs. Approvals
have been granted to teachers who have completed four courses in
special education: survey of exceptional children; diagnosis of
children with all types of disabilities; characteristics of children
with a particular disability; and methods of teaching such children.
Approvals in the areas of learning disabilities (LD), social/emotional
disorders (S/ED), mental retardation (EMH/TMH) and physically handicapped
(PH) have been granted to teachers for an indefinite time period.
Beginning January 1, 2002, approvals will be granted in the area
of Learning Behavior Specialist I (LBS I), and will be valid for
three years only. Teachers must make a transition to an unlimited
LBS I endorsement by the end of three years in order to continue
teaching students with disabilities. The coursework required for
the unlimited LBS I approvals must cover: survey of exceptional
children, diagnosis of and characteristics of children with all
the disabilities encompassed by the LBS I credential, and methods
of teaching such children. Such approvals will probably not be granted
on the basis of four college courses, given that the coursework
must cover the full range of students encompassed by the LBS I credential,
i.e., students with LD, S/ED, MR, PH, traumatic brain injury (TBI)
and autism. Limited LBS I approvals will still be granted for categorical
areas, subject to the three-year limitation.
Teachers who hold current approvals, issued before December 31,
2001, will receive an LBS I approval that will be either "limited"
or "unlimited", depending on the teacher's pre-existing
approvals. If the teacher has more than one current approval, and
the combination of approvals includes approvals for LD or S/ED and
EMH, TMH or PH, then the teacher will receive the unlimited LBS
I approval. All others will receive the "limited" LBS
I approval. These approvals will continue to be valid indefinitely,
and the limitations on the "limited" LBS I approvals will
ultimately expire. Teachers who hold current approvals will not
need to obtain an LBS I endorsement as is required of those who
receive LBS I approvals on or after January 1, 2002.
The above changes to special education approvals apply only to
approvals that fall under the LBS I credential - LD, S/ED, EMH,
TMH and PH.
Also, beginning January 1, 2002, a short term emergency certification,
valid for three years, will replace the current the "authorization
for assignment" (PZZ approval). Current PZZs are issued to
a school district, special education cooperative or joint agreement,
not to the teacher. They are also valid until they expire, usually
after two years. The new short-term emergency certificate will be
issued to the teacher. At the end of three years, the teacher must
make a transition to an unlimited LBS I approval.
In order to obtain a short-term emergency certificate, a teacher
must complete the survey of exceptional children course; and one
other of the courses currently required for an approval. Those applying
for short-term emergency certification must also submit a plan for
moving toward an unlimited LBS I approval within three years, and
that plan must be validated by the teacher's employer and the college
or university that the teacher plans to attend.
Current authorizations for assignment (PZZ approvals) are valid
until they expire, and are not renewable. At the time of expiration,
teachers to whom the authorizations apply will need to seek short-term
emergency certification or some other special education credential
in order to continue to serve students with disabilities. Such teachers
will not need to obtain an LBS I approval when the authorization
for assignment expires, as is required of those who receive short-term
emergency certification on or after January 1, 2002.
The above requirements for short-term emergency certification apply
only to those authorizations for assignment (PZZs) that fall under
the LBS I credential - LD , S/ED, EMH, TMH and PH.
Additionally, under the Transition Rules, special education teachers
who have not exchanged their current certificates for the new Standard
or Master Certificates and are due to make the exchange in 2002
are allowed to exchange their certificates early.
This "early exchange option" is designed to allow special
education teachers to take advantage of and receive credit for continuing
professional development activities offered in the area of teaching
students with disabilities before July 1, 2002. Included in the
definition of "special education teachers" are teachers
with approvals and those teaching on authorizations for assignment
In order to receive credit for such activities, special education
teachers must have exchanged their certificates for the new Standard
or Master Certificates and must file a Certificate Renewal Plan
with their local professional development committee.
The requirements for continuing professional development for special
education teachers have changed, effective July 1, 2001, and the
ISBE has recently distributed a Revision to the Certificate Renewal
Manual to reflect those changes. Information regarding the new requirements
and the text of the Revision to the Manual may be found at www.isbe.net/certification.