Delaware certifies Devereux’s Alternative Education/Teacher Certification program
In the state of Delaware, teachers who instruct students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are required to earn a special education certification, along with a second certification in autism and severe disabilities.
Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting recently approved Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s “Alternative Certification in Autism and Severe Disabilities Alternative Routes to Certification Program,” which means Devereux is now just one of three approved providers for the additional certification (that specializes in autism/severe disabilities) for teacher candidates in the state. The approval to provide this specialized certification program is good for three years.
“It is an honor that the caliber of our approach in working with individuals with autism has been recognized by the State of Delaware,” said Devereux Executive Director of Autism Services Dr. Todd Harris. “This certification allows us to ensure that evidence-based practices are implemented consistently by participating teachers in Delaware schools. In addition, it will focus on making sure teachers have the needed competencies to optimize their instruction; teachers will need to display these competencies in their classrooms in order to become certified. Ultimately, it is a win-win for both teachers and students.”
Altering the certification process
Historically, the additional certification for Delaware teachers consisted of completing five courses over a three-year period. However, the Delaware Department of Education began to look for additional options for teachers seeking to teach students with autism and/or severe disabilities.
As a result, the state requested proposals from those with desired expertise to develop a new certification program that would serve as an alternative to the more traditional approach of taking classes and demonstrating skill acquisition by passing exams and writing papers. Based on Devereux’s substantial experience in training teachers in the state, Dr. Harris felt this was an ideal opportunity for Devereux.
“The certification protocol we submitted is a one-year program supported by workshop trainings, readings, assignments, coaching and in-situ performance feedback to ensure teachers ultimately have the competencies they need in working with students with autism,” noted Devereux Pennsylvania Director of Autism Services Dr. Megan Joy, who collaborated on the proposal with Harris.
Launching this fall
In the fall of 2018, Devereux will pilot its new certification curriculum with one or two Delaware school districts to evaluate the training components and feasibility, as well as to make any necessary adjustments before offering the program statewide.
Both Drs. Harris and Joy feel this training program can also be implemented internally within Devereux schools, as well as in other states. “While not all states require the additional teacher certification for instructing students with autism, many have endorsed specialized autism training programs for teachers,” said Harris. “By also implementing this training program across Devereux’s campuses and schools in the future, our special education teachers will have an opportunity to enhance their skills to better support our students and help them reach their unique potential.”
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