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How to Teach Students with Moderate Disabilities in Massachusetts

February 25, 2019

Few jobs offer the joy that comes when you teach students with moderate disabilities. The chance to make a big impact on young lives ranks this among the most satisfying jobs in education.

Massachusetts teachers who want to work in this concentration must meet selective requirements. The state’s schools rank well by both nationwide and worldwide measures. Lofty standards for teachers are one reason why.

However, those standards can be reached through the skills taught in a Master of Education in Moderate Disabilities degree program.

Teach Students with Moderate Disabilities

When you teach students with moderate disabilities you will fall into one of two groups – Pre-K through 8th grade or 5th grade through 12th grade. Each has its own state license requirements. Merrimack College trains teachers for an initial state license to teach Pre-K-8th grade students.

By law, school districts must to give all students a “free and appropriate public education.” To do so, schools hire teachers with the skills to work with disabled students. That includes knowing how to evaluate students’ social and emotional skills, cognition and motor ability.

The Need for Moderate Disabilities Teachers

The federal government does not track job numbers for teachers of students with moderate disabilities. However, it does track all special education teachers. Nationwide, those jobs will increase 8% by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Demand in Massachusetts is higher.

For elementary school special education teachers, 10.6% growth is expected by 2026, reports Projections Central. In middle schools, that number is 10.8%. Demand is high in the Bay State because of a shortage of special education teachers. A U.S. Department of Education report found moderate disabilities is one of the areas where the state needs more teachers.

Earn a Teaching Job in Moderate Disabilities

The first step for teachers is to earn a bachelor’s degree, then earn a preliminary license from the state. Obtaining that license requires passing sections of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL).

To earn the next level of licensure – initial license – teachers must complete a state-approved program and pass the required MTEL tests.

The Merrimack College program is approved by the state and aligned with the Massachusetts Professional Standards for Teachers and Subject Matter Knowledge requirements. Graduates from the program are prepared for the required MTEL tests. They learn to work with students in integrated and self-contained classrooms.

The college offers courses online, allowing teachers to fit classes around work. Students enjoy immersion events, such as seminars, and field-based experience at various schools located in Massachusetts.

Becoming a teacher of students with moderate disabilities is more calling than career. While Massachusetts standards are high, entering the right degree program can help teachers take a big step toward answering that call.