Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8), Special Education, BSE

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In Short

Become a catalyst for change as a special education teacher and help to increase opportunities in education and improve outcomes for children with moderate disabilities.

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Program Overview

Students within the special education moderate disabilities concentration may pursue initial teacher licensure as a teacher of students with moderate disabilities (PreK-8). In this concentration, students will learn the theory, research, and pedagogy necessary to teach students with moderate disabilities (PreK-8) and develop interdisciplinary studies content knowledge through their general education studies coursework.

Throughout the program of study, students will complete several field-based experiences in special education and general education settings, which will be supervised by mentor teachers and university faculty supervisors. These field-based experiences will provide students with opportunities to observe and participate in classroom instruction that incorporates what students are learning in their educational pedagogy classes and what they are learning in their general education courses. Students will complete a formal practicum for their special education moderate disabilities major and for the elementary education add-on license. This program meets the standards of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

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Students in this concentration will fulfill the requirements for the special education moderate disabilities major for students pursuing initial teacher licensure as a teacher of students with moderate disabilities (PreK-8) and as a teacher of elementary students (1-6) as well as the core requirements of the IDIS major that are specific for education majors.

Education 4+1 Program

Complete a 4 Year Bachelor’s Degree and License in... Moderate Disabilities PreK-8

Complete a 1 year M.Ed. in Curriculum and Teaching and add a License in... Early Childhood Education PreK-2, OR Elementary Education 1-6, OR Severe Disabilities, All Levels

  • Guaranteed admission into the graduate program for students who maintain their academic standing and meet admission qualifications.  
  • Students must pass all required MTELs and successfully complete the practicum in order to earn the initial license. This will automatically make them eligible for the 4+1 program
  • Students in this program can begin their graduate coursework in the semester immediately following completion of their bachelor's degree and have a seamless transition from their undergraduate to graduate program. 
  • Application
  • Although students complete 4+1 program application at any point up to the practicum, they will still need to apply to the M.Ed. Curriculum and Teaching program. The fee, letters of recommendation, and essay are waived.

Experiential Opportunities


The purpose of the student teaching practicum/internship is to provide candidates who have reached the teacher candidacy stage of their academic programs with hands-on experience in an approved school setting.
Read more about: Practicum

Study Abroad

Faculty-led study abroad course opportunities also increase student life-transforming experiences, as do student/faculty cooperative research projects.
Read more about: Study Abroad

Curriculum and Other Information

  • Elementary School Teacher (1-6)
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Fitchburg State University is a member in good standing of the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP), a national accrediting organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. This program has been awarded full accreditation by AAQEP through December 31, 2030. Accreditation acknowledges that a program prepares effective educators who continue to grow as professionals and has demonstrated the commitment and capacity to maintain quality.

All Teacher Candidates will meet the following Professional Standards for Teachers:

(1) Curriculum, Planning, and Assessment standard: Promotes the learning and growth of all students by providing high quality and coherent instruction, designing and administering authentic and meaningful student assessments, analyzing student performance and growth data, using this data to improve instruction, providing students with constructive feedback on an on-going basis, and continuously refining learning objectives.

(2) Teaching All Students standard: Promotes the learning and growth of all students through instructional practices that establish high expectations, create a safe and effective classroom environment, and demonstrate cultural proficiency.

(3) Family and Community Engagement standard: Promotes the learning and growth of all students through effective partnerships with families, caregivers, community members, and organizations.

(4) Professional Culture standard: Promotes the learning and growth of all students through ethical, culturally proficient, skilled, and collaborative practice.

Teacher candidates from Fitchburg State University will demonstrate the knowledge and skills required for their license including the following subject-matter knowledge standards:

a. Support the integration of standards for literacy across the content areas as outlined in the 2017 ELA/Literacy Framework. 

b. Apply basic principles and concepts for digital literacy and computer science in Computing and Society, Digital Tools and Collaboration, and Computing Systems as outlined in the 2016 Digital Literacy Computer Science Framework. 

c. Apply the theories of cognitive, social, emotional, language, and physical development from childhood through adolescence. 

d. Understand the characteristics and instructional implications of moderately and severely disabling conditions. 

e. Apply special education policies and procedures. 

f. Support English learners through English learner education instruction. 

In addition to the standards above, each program has specific subject-matter knowledge standards that teacher candidates must meet.

Moderate Disabilities Prek-8:

Knowledge of the significant theories, approaches, practices, and programs for developing reading skills and reading comprehension:

  1. Current research-based theories and practices for developing proficient and strategic readers; familiarity with programs and approaches for teaching literacy/reading.
  2. Principles and research-based instructional practices for developing proficient readers (phonics and word recognition, vocabulary, reading fluency, comprehension, and the reading-writing connection).
  3. Theories, research, and instructional practices for supporting readers with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, strengths, and challenges.
  4. Knowledge of reading standards as outlined in the 2017 ELA/Literacy Curriculum Framework: reading for key ideas and details, craft and structure, integration of knowledge and ideas, and range of reading and text complexity.
  • Instructional practices for supporting comprehension in a variety of genres and content areas.
  • Knowledge of selection criteria for classroom literary and informational texts.

Principles and research-based instructional practices for developing emergent reader skills (alphabetic principle, concepts of print, phonological and phonemic awareness).

  1. Phonemic awareness and phonics; principles, knowledge, and instructional practices.
  2. Use of assessment for instruction and intervention.
  3. Knowledge of a variety of formal and informal reading assessment tools.
  4. Use of data from screening, diagnostic, and formative assessments to identify individual strengths and weaknesses and to differentiate instruction (prepare mini-lessons, select appropriate materials, form flexible groups).
  5. Knowledge of Response to Intervention models/components, including tiered instruction, shared responsibility and decision-making, research-based interventions, and progress monitoring.
  • Diagnosis and assessment of reading skills using standardized, criterion- referenced, and informal assessment instruments.

Teacher candidates must demonstrate the necessary depth and breadth of content knowledge needed to support all students in mastering expectations outlined in the following Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks:

  1. 2017 English Language Arts (ELA)/Literacy Framework:
    Grades Pre-K—8
  2. 2017 Mathematics Curriculum Framework:
    Grades Pre-K—8     
  3. 2016 Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Curriculum Framework:
    Grades Pre-K—8
  4. 2018 History and Social Science Framework:
    Grades PreK-8

In addition to the content outlined above that aligns with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, teachers of Students with Moderate Disabilities should demonstrate the following knowledge and skills:

  1. Educational terminology for students with mild to moderate disabilities.
  2. Preparation, implementation, and evaluation of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
  3. Design or modification of curriculum, instructional materials, and general education classroom environments for students with moderate disabilities.
  4. Instruction on the appropriate use of augmentative and alternative communication and other assistive technologies.
  5. Ways to prepare and maintain students with disabilities for general education classrooms; for example, use of behavioral management principles.
  6. Knowledge of services provided by other agencies.
  7. Federal and state laws and regulations pertaining to special education.