Exceptional Student Education K–12 

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Competencies and Skills and Blueprint

The test design below describes general testing information. The blueprints that follow provide a detailed outline that explains the competencies and skills that this test measures.

Test Design

table describing the format of the test, including test time, number of questions, and required passing score
Format Computer-based test (CBT)
Number of Questions Approximately 120 multiple-choice questions
Time 2 hours and 30 minutes
Passing Score A scaled score of at least 200


Competencies, Skills, and Approximate Percentage of Questions

graph depicting approximate percentage of each competency's weight toward overall test score, as described in detail in the table below

table describing the competencies, skills, and approximate percentage of each competency's weight toward overall test score
Competency Approximate Percentage of Total Test Questions
1 Knowledge of foundations of exceptional student education 18%
2 Knowledge of assessment and evaluation 14%
3 Knowledge of instructional practices in exceptional student education 18%
4 Knowledge of assessing, designing, and implementing positive behavioral supports 15%
5 Knowledge of language development, reading, and communication skills 20%
6 Knowledge of skills related to teaching interpersonal interactions and participation 5%
7 Knowledge of the transition process 10%

Competencies and Skills

Competency 1—Knowledge of foundations of exceptional student education
  1. Identify state and federal legislation and case law that have affected the education of students with disabilities.

  2. Identify appropriate practices based on legal and ethical standards (e.g., due process, procedural safeguards, confidentiality, access to general education, least restrictive environment, transition planning, free appropriate public education).

  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the required policies and processes for developing individual education plans (IEPs), individualized family service plans (IFSPs), and transition IEPs.

  4. Identify the classification systems and eligibility criteria under the current Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.

  5. Compare the development and characteristics (e.g., language, cognitive-academic, social-emotional, sensory, physical-motor) of children with disabilities to the development and characteristics of children without disabilities.

  6. Interpret curriculum information and assessment data for IEP and child study team members.

  7. Identify models of support for assisting students with disabilities in accessing the general education curricula.

  8. Identify the purposes and functions of professional and advocacy organizations relevant to educating students with disabilities.

Competency 2—Knowledge of assessment and evaluation
  1. Identify the purposes of assessment (e.g., early identification, screening, interventions, eligibility, diagnosis, identification of relevant instructional content, monitoring the effectiveness of instruction) across disciplines.

  2. Identify the legal requirements and ethical principles regarding the assessment of students with disabilities (e.g., confidentiality, adherence to test protocols, appropriateness of assessment for student needs).

  3. Identify measurement concepts, characteristics, and uses of norm-referenced, criterion-referenced, and performance-based assessments for students with disabilities.

  4. Interpret, analyze, and apply the results of norm-referenced, criterion-referenced, and performance-based assessments for students with disabilities.

  5. Identify alternative assessment strategies and procedures (e.g., observations, performance-based assessments, ecological assessments, interviews, portfolios) and their appropriate use.

  6. Identify the factors (e.g., curriculum alignment, cultural bias) that influence disproportionate representation of students from diverse cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds in programs for students with disabilities and recognize the implications for assessment.

  7. Identify and analyze reliable and valid progress-monitoring methods for assessing individual student progress (e.g., curriculum-based assessments, fluency checks, rubrics, story retelling, informal reading inventories, portfolios).

Competency 3—Knowledge of instructional practices in exceptional student education
  1. Analyze assessment information to identify a student's educational needs and instructional levels in order to select appropriate specialized instructional techniques, strategies, and materials.

  2. Identify characteristics of reliable sources of scientifically based research related to instructional practices.

  3. Identify instructional strategies for acquisition, generalization, and maintenance of skills (e.g., functional and applied academic skills, workplace and career skills, independent living skills) across school, home, work, and community settings.

  4. Select relevant general education and alternate standards and curricula appropriate for a student's age, instructional needs, and functional performance across settings.

  5. Identify methods for differentiating, accommodating, and modifying assessment, instruction, and materials in order to meet individual student needs (e.g., related to age, gender, cultural and linguistic background, preferred communication mode).

  6. Identify effective methods of communication, consultation, and collaboration with students, families, parents, guardians, administrators, general education teachers, paraprofessionals, and other professionals, including students, families, and team members from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, as equal members of the educational team.

  7. Identify effective classroom management and flexible grouping strategies for specific instructional activities.

  8. Identify effective instructional methods (e.g., explicit and systematic instruction, scaffolding, modeling) for integrating reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, researching, and presenting across the curricula.

  9. Identify instructional strategies that help students comprehend and apply knowledge of informational text structure (e.g., cause and effect, chronological order, compare and contrast) and text features (e.g., index, glossary, subheading).

  10. Identify criteria for selecting and evaluating both print and nonprint media (e.g., Internet, software, trade books, textbooks, DVDs, videos) for instructional use to match student needs and interests.

  11. Identify effective instructional methods and supports (e.g., direct instruction, visual supports, manipulatives) for teaching mathematics and integrating mathematics across the curricula.

Competency 4—Knowledge of assessing, designing, and implementing positive behavioral supports
  1. Analyze the legal and ethical issues pertaining to positive behavior-management strategies and disciplinary actions.

  2. Identify data collection strategies for assessing student behavior.

  3. Analyze individual and group data to select and evaluate proactive interventions that foster appropriate behavior.

  4. Identify and interpret the essential elements of a functional behavior assessment and a behavior intervention plan.

  5. Recognize the various concepts and models of positive behavior management.

Competency 5—Knowledge of language development, reading, and communication skills
  1. Identify the sequence of expressive and receptive language development and the components of language structure.

  2. Identify communication deficits and select appropriate interventions.

  3. Select strategies for integrating communication instruction to meet individual student needs across educational settings.

  4. Select appropriate assistive technology and alternative communication systems to facilitate communication.

  5. Identify the sequence of typical reading development (e.g., prereading level, learning to read, reading to learn) and the critical components of reading development (e.g., phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension).

  6. Identify the terminology and concepts of literacy development (e.g., oral language, phonological awareness, concepts about print, alphabet knowledge, decoding, vocabulary, text structures, written language, motivation).

  7. Identify the characteristics and purposes of various reading programs (e.g., core reading program, supplemental reading program, intensive intervention program).

  8. Identify characteristics of reading difficulties.

  9. Identify and select prevention and intervention methods for addressing reading difficulties.

  10. Identify the early phases of word recognition within the decoding process (e.g., pre-alphabetic, partial-alphabetic, full-alphabetic, consolidated-alphabetic).

  11. Identify explicit and systematic instructional methods for promoting the development of phonological and phonemic awareness.

  12. Identify the processes and skills (e.g., graphophonemic, morphemic, syntactic, semantic) that effective readers use for word recognition.

  13. Identify explicit and systematic instructional methods for developing reading fluency (e.g., practice with high-frequency words, timed readings, repeated readings, read alouds, choral reading, recorded books).

  14. Identify explicit and systematic instructional methods and strategies for increasing vocabulary acquisition (e.g., appropriate choice of words for instruction; multiple exposures; teaching word learning strategies, such as word analysis and contextual analysis).

  15. Identify explicit and systematic instructional methods and strategies for facilitating students' reading-comprehension and critical-thinking skills (e.g., use of graphic and semantic organizers; use of multiple strategy instruction; teaching summarizing, monitoring comprehension, question answering, question generating, and recognizing story structure as comprehension strategies).

  16. Identify explicit and systematic instructional methods for developing phonics skills.

Competency 6—Knowledge of skills related to teaching interpersonal interactions and participation
  1. Select appropriate instructional procedures for teaching adaptive life skills based on observations, ecological assessments, family interviews, and other student information.

  2. Identify methods for evaluating and documenting student progress in acquiring, generalizing, and maintaining skills related to interpersonal interactions and participation in activities across settings (e.g., at school, at home, in the community).

  3. Identify skills necessary for students with disabilities to engage in self-determination and self-advocacy.

Competency 7—Knowledge of the transition process
  1. Identify activities relevant to the four stages of career development (i.e., awareness, exploration, preparation, and placement).

  2. Identify the essential domains of transition planning (e.g., personal-social, general community functioning, employment, leisure-recreational) for students with disabilities.

  3. Demonstrate knowledge of transition planning using student and family characteristics (e.g., socioeconomic status, gender, cultural and linguistic background) to develop desired postschool outcomes.

  4. Identify resources and strategies for assisting students in functioning in a variety of environments to which they will be transitioning.