JSC Brings 'Inclusive Elementary Education' and 4-Year, Dual Teacher Endorsement to Vermont

A bachelor's degree in childhood education at Johnson State College now enables students to become endorsed for both elementary education and special education licensure in just four years. Before now, an endorsement in special education has been available only to students who complete graduate study in that specialty.

 

"This is a major enhancement of our teacher-education programs at JSC," says David McGough, chair of the JSC Education Department and the guiding force behind what is now called the "inclusive elementary education" program at JSC. Of the roughly 1,200 colleges conferring education degrees in the United States, only a small percent offer degrees in inclusive elementary education, and JSC is the first to bring the program to Vermont.

What sets inclusive elementary education at JSC apart from other such programs is the ability for students to earn two endorsements in four years. This is possible because the professional standards for both elementary and special education are "woven throughout the curriculum, creating a comprehensive, fully integrated four-year program, whereas other programs address these two specialties separately and sequentially," he explains.

Inclusive elementary education prepares graduates to work with all students — the general student population as well as those with special needs and students from different backgrounds and cultures, which is the face of education today, McGough adds. "Ultimately that translates into brighter job prospects for our graduates, who can expect to be among the top candidates for teaching positions as they become available," he says.

In addition, because the program combines two endorsements into a bachelor's degree, it also translates into a more affordable education for students seeking licensure in special education. At other Vermont institutions where special education endorsement is available, either a graduate degree or extra semesters of study are typically required.

In creating the new program, JSC developed a network of "partnership schools" in Vermont at the elementary, middle and secondary levels where JSC students, mentored by practicing professionals, complete specific tasks and gain specific skills during their school-based practicum and student-teaching experiences.

In addition to making the combined endorsements possible, the new undergraduate degree — offered on campus and through JSC's statewide External Degree Program — streamlines the portfolio process and structures the progression of coursework, practicums and student teaching requirements, enabling students to complete 15 weeks of student teaching and graduate in four years with 126 credits.

A similar JSC program is available at the graduate level for students seeking initial licensure and endorsements in either elementary, art or music education and in special education.

The new JSC program was launched in fall 2012 following two years of research and curriculum revisions. It received preliminary endorsement in March from the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators as part of the state's official Results Oriented Program Approval process. For more information, contact the JSC Admissions Office at or 800-635-2356.