What is a Cross Categorical Degree?

A cross categorical degree is a unique academic program that prepares special education teachers to simultaneously help students with different need levels.

With this degree and state licensure, special education teachers can teach students with cognitive, learning and emotional disabilities at the same developmental level as their regular education license. According to the National Education Association (NEA), multi-categorical classrooms encourage teachers to individually help students based on their own needs.

A Cross-Categorical Master of Education in Special Education

One of the most common cross categorical degrees is a Master of Education in Special Education. Educational reforms and congressional legislation regarding special needs students are rising, so there is an increased demand for special education teachers. Most of these teachers want to help more students at the same time, so the cross-categorical degree allows them to work with special needs students at different levels.

At the same time, not all teachers want to dive into classrooms after graduation and some teachers must postpone their teaching plans because of personal reasons. The cross-categorical degree programs are academic solutions for individuals who want to work with special needs children in the K–12 setting, but not in the classroom. This degree is favored by district managers and school administrators that manage special education programs.

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Required Courses

Cross categorical degree programs have classes about managing children with disabilities. Coursework increases the learners’ understanding of instructional practices for preventing and intervening with behavior problems. Assessing children with disabilities classwork will involve comprehensive surveys of standard psychological tests. There will be an emphasis on evaluating, administering and statistically analyzing the results.

Special education teachers also need to learn strategies for effective inclusion practices in the classroom. The characteristics of students with common disabilities will be discussed so learners will know how to modify curricula, instruction techniques and progress assessments. Learners will also develop a working knowledge of applicable laws, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997). Future special education teachers will learn the rights and responsibilities of staff, students and families.

Education Expectations

Cross categorical degrees all share the same learning goals and outcomes. First, the teacher must understand the central concepts and discipline structures in order to create measurable and meaningful learning experiences. Second, the teacher must understand how children with limited abilities function and develop, so they can provide the individualized instruction that supports social, personal and intellectual growth.

Third, the teacher must be familiar with the barriers that impeded learning for special needs students, such as negative assumptions and discriminatory practices. Fourth, the teacher should employ a variety of instructional strategies, including technology and cross-culture techniques, to encourage the student to develop problem solving skills and improve performance skills.

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A cross categorical degree empowers the teacher to make lessons accessible to students with specialized needs. It qualifies them to handle a broad range of students with various Individualized Education Plans. Cross categorical teachers are licensed and trained to educate students with varying needs.