» Master of Arts in Special Education and Education Specialist Credentials

Description of the Program


Chapman University has been approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to offer special education credential programs (i.e., Education Specialist Preliminary Credential Programs) in the areas of mild/moderate, moderate/severe, and a joint multiple subject and mild/moderate credential. The Education Specialist Programs prepare candidates to serve as special education teachers in K-12 public schools in inclusive, learning centers, and when necessary, special day class settings.


The mission of the program is to develop change agents, professionals who will pursue social justice side–by–side with people with disabilities. Candidates should be prepared to believe in and be advocates for the absolute dignity of all people, including those with labels of disability.


The goal of the Master of Arts in Special Education and Education Specialist (Special Education) programs is to develop highly competent, informed, and collaborative professionals. These programs will give students the tools to build inclusive communities of families and colleagues. Students learn to be effective communicators, informed decision makers, advocates for students, leaders and change agents, scholars, and mediators of diversity.

CAEP Standard 1: Content and Pedagogical Knowledge. The provider ensures that candidates develop a deep understanding of the critical concepts and principles of their discipline and, by completion, can use discipline-specific practices flexibly to advance the learning of all students toward attainment of college- and career- readiness standards.

CAEP guidance on how to respond overall to Standard 1. Identify key points for a convincing evidence-based case that candidates are competent in the concepts that make up Standard 1. Describe what you have done that is unique and especially effective to prepare candidates. Use supplied evidence to address questions such as:

  • How do you know that your candidates are successful? Are they proficient in the content knowledge of their field and how to teach it?

Candidates in the Special Education (Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe) program are assessed at multiple points in their academic program on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) Teacher performance expectations (TPEs). Candidates must demonstrate mastery of TPEs and Key assignments. See matrices with Key Assignment links below. In addition to the TPEs and Key Assignments, candidates must pass the CSET (California Subject Examination for Teachers) prior to being eligible for student teaching. Candidates may not continue on to student teaching unless they have successfully passed the CSET.

  • How do you know your candidates are able to apply what they are learning so that their diverse P-12 students learn in pre-service clinical settings?

Our Key Assignments (links in course matrices below) are designed to assess application.

  • How do you know your candidates are able to demonstrate their skills in teaching at college- and career-ready levels, including a deep knowledge of content, solving problems, and critical thinking in that content, and employing their assessment and data literacy skills for P-12 student learning?

Candidates demonstrate their skills through the TPEs and Key Assignments (see links below).

  • How do you know your candidates are ready to teach diverse learners under the different situations they may encounter on the job?

We require all candidates to work with diverse groups of learners that reflect the surrounding community of Orange County, as outlined by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Our credential and fieldwork office track the diversity requirement by ensuring our partner schools meet the diversity requirements. Candidates are required to obtain 600 hours of experience during their credential program.

  • How do you know your candidates are proficient in applications of technology to enhance P-12 student learning?

Our program integrates technology standards throughout our coursework. In addition, candidates are required to take an assistive technology to support students with mild/complex needs. This is an area that we need to continue to develop. The current Key Assignment for EDUC 571 (required for all teacher candidates) includes links to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards (see link to Key Assignment in matrices below).

  • How do you know your candidates can apply appropriate professional and ethical standards in their work?

Candidates are expected to maintain professional dispositions as outlined by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) throughout the program. Disposition requirements are included in each course and instructors provide feedback on candidate dispositions three times during the program (coursework, fieldwork, student teaching).

  • Have you set external benchmarks for success for your program and your faculty?

Our program adheres to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing benchmarks. We report our evidence to CTC through our reports.

  • Describe the evidence that most compellingly demonstrates your case, what you have learned from the evidence, and what conclusions and interpretations you have made.

Our course matrix and key assignment alignment demonstrate that our program is introducing, practicing, and assessing the Teacher Performance Expectations throughout the program. The WASC (ALOAR) report demonstrates that the majority of our candidates are meeting expectations as outlined by our Key Assignments.

See WASC Report for more information.

  • Describe the uses you are making of the evidence for Standard 1 by sharing it with stakeholders and undertaking or planning modifications in your preparation courses and experiences.

We are planning to work on the application of technology throughout our coursework and ensuring that the ISTE standards are linked to multiple Key Assignments.

CAEP Standard 1.1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Professional Dispositions Candidates demonstrate an understanding of the 10 InTASC Standards at the appropriate progression level(s) in the following categories: the learner and learning; content; instructional practice; and professional responsibility.

Candidates demonstrate an understanding of relevant standards through our intentionally designed Key Assignments. 

CAEP Standard 1.1 Evidence


CAEP Standard 1.2. Providers ensure that candidates use research and evidence to develop an understanding of the teaching profession and use both to measure their P-12 students’ progress and their professional practice.

Clinical summative assessments for each candidate following their student teaching semester, as well as the demonstration of mastery of the TPEs ensure that our candidates use research and evidence to develop an understanding of the teaching profession. (see ALOAR report for additional information). The Annual Report Section 4B, 5B Questions to consider as well as the ALOAR report both provide descriptions of data collected, our data analysis, and how data is used to make program improvements.

CAEP Standard 1.2 Evidence


CAEP Standard 1.3. Providers ensure that candidates apply content and pedagogical knowledge as reflected in outcome assessments in response to standards of Specialized Professional Associations (SPA), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), states, or other accrediting bodies (e.g., National Association of Schools of Music [NASM]).

Our program specifically aligns all of our key assignments and syllabi with the California Teacher Performance Expectations (TPEs). The matrices describe the course sequence and when each TPE is introduced, practiced, and assessed throughout the program.

CAEP Standard 1.3 Evidence

  • Key assignments (see program course matrix above)
  • Syllabi aligned with TPEs (see program course matrix above)


CAEP Standard 1.4. Providers ensure that candidates demonstrate skills and commitment that afford all P-12 students access to rigorous college- and career-ready standards (e.g., Next Generation Science Standards, National Career Readiness Certificate, Common Core State Standards).

Our program ensures that candidates demonstrate skills and commitment that affords all P-12 students access to college and career ready standards by ensuring that they are assessed at minimum six times throughout the semester. These assessments include a formative and summative assessment.

We need to continue to address this standard in more detail through a survey of graduates that reflects their skills and commitment in the field upon graduation.

CAEP Standard 1.4 Evidence

  • Clinical Summative Assessments
  • Further, we intend to design and implement an annual survey of graduates. These surveys will attempt to gather data that identifies the ways in which graduates implement teaching that uses deep content knowledge with problem solving and critical thinking.


CAEP Standard 1.5 Providers ensure that completers model and apply technology standards as they design, implement and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; and enrich professional practice.

Our program intends to develop this area by intentionally integrating the ISTE standards throughout our courses and Key Assignments.

CAEP Standard 1.5 Evidence


CAEP Standard 2: Clinical Partnerships and Practice. The provider ensures that effective partnerships and high-quality clinical practice are central to preparation so that candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to demonstrate positive impact on all P-12 students’ learning and development.

Partnerships for Clinical Preparation 2.1 Partners co-construct mutually beneficial P-12 school and community arrangements for clinical preparation, including technology-based collaborations, and shared responsibility for continuous improvement of candidate preparation. Partnerships for clinical preparation can follow a range of forms, participants, and functions. They establish mutually agreeable expectations for candidate entry, preparation, and exit; ensure that theory and practice are linked; maintain coherence across clinical and academic components of preparation; and share accountability for candidate outcomes.

Clinical partnerships are pivotal to the success of our program. We have long standing relationships with our local districts and actively seek partnerships with districts that provide multiple opportunities for our candidates to work with diverse population of students, explore innovative practices, and technologies. Our partnerships with our P-12 partners are collaborative and co-constructed to create mutually beneficial school/community partnerships and shared responsibility for the continuous improvement of our candidate preparations. Our program handbook (student teaching handbooks) explicitly outline the shared expectations between the university and our P-12 partners. Given the range of placements that our candidates are required, the program coordinator and fieldwork coordinator are dedicated to supporting and fostering relationships with our district partners for clinical placements. Our programs strategically place candidates with experienced master teachers and university supervisors.

The prompts and reflection questions, below, focus the selection of evidence and frame your case that Standard 2 is met. They bring together the suggested steps in building a case for the standard with the key concepts for Standard 2. The concepts are providing opportunities for candidates to practice the application of course knowledge in diverse instructional settings with students who have differing needs, and to do that in partnerships with close collaborators from schools and school districts as well as other appropriate organizations.

  • Describe what you have done that is unique and that you believe is especially effective in partnerships and clinical experiences. What opportunities have candidates had to prepare in diverse settings and to work with students having different needs?

Our program requires students to enter into clinical practice placements from the very first semester of their program. Candidates are required to complete 600 hours of fieldwork experience prior to being eligible for their preliminary education specialist credential. These early placements allow students to opportunity to work with students from diverse settings and with diverse needs.

  • What features of clinical experiences (e.g., depth, breadth, coherence and duration) have you studied—through comparisons across preparation programs, or more formal investigations—to improve candidate outcomes?

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) requires education specialist teacher candidates to have depth and breadth of experience in the continuum of placements. We strive to provide Candidates with clinical experiences that reflect the University’s surrounding communities.

  • What features of partnerships including clinical faculty participation, selection, or training have had positive effects on candidate development?

We strive for continuous improvement in our clinical placement partnerships. Every semester, the program conducts a clinical practice orientation in which students, mentor teachers, university supervisors participate in a training.

Every semester, supervisors are trained to on our formal observation forms, formative and summative assessments. This training ensures that our supervisors and mentor teachers are calibrated.

CAEP Standard 2.1 Partnerships for Clinical Preparation. Partners co-construct mutually beneficial P-12 school and community arrangements for clinical preparation, including technology-based collaborations, and shared responsibility for continuous improvement of candidate preparation. Partnerships for clinical preparation can follow a range of forms, participants, and functions. They establish mutually agreeable expectations for candidate entry, preparation, and exit; ensure that theory and practice are linked; maintain coherence across clinical and academic components of preparation; and share accountability for candidate outcomes.

We utilize a number of data sources to ensure that we are developing and sustaining strong district partnerships. These sources include MOUs with all district partners, fieldwork and clinical practice handbooks, P-12 participation surveys, and P-12 feedback surveys.

CAEP Standard 2.1 Evidence


CAEP Standard 2.2 Clinical Educators. Partners co-select, prepare, evaluate, support, and retain high-quality clinical educators, both EPP and school-based, who demonstrate a positive impact on candidates’ development and P12 student learning and development. In collaboration with their partners, providers use multiple indicators and appropriate technology-based applications to establish, maintain, and refine criteria for selection, professional development, performance evaluation, continuous improvement, and retention of clinical educators in all clinical placement settings.

To ensure our candidates are matched with qualified mentor teachers, we work closely with our district partners. As a program we collect data on all the mentor teachers and university supervisors to ensure they meet the state requirements. We also provide mentor teachers and supervisors with trainings throughout the semester that outline the state requirements for supervision and mentoring and to ensure calibration.

In addition, per state requirements, we ensure that mentors receive a minimum of 10 hours of professional development.

At the end of each semester, we collect feedback from candidates, supervisors, and mentor teachers, to ensure that we continue to develop a quality clinical experience for all participants.

CAEP Standard 2.2 Evidence


CAEP Standard 2.3 Clinical Experiences. The provider works with partners to design clinical experiences of sufficient depth, breadth, coherence, and duration to ensure that candidates demonstrate their developing effectiveness and positive impact on all students’ learning and development. Clinical experiences, including technology-enhanced learning opportunities, are structured to have multiple, performancebased assessments at key points within the program to demonstrate candidates’ development of the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions, as delineated in Standard 1, that are associated with a positive impact on the learning and development of all P-astuteness.

Our program collaborates and works closely with our district partners in ensuring that the clinical experiences provide sufficient depth, breadth, and coherence for our candidates to demonstrate effectiveness though multiple opportunities.

CAEP Standard 2.3 Evidence


CAEP Standard 3: Candidate Quality, Recruitment and Selectivity. The provider demonstrates that the quality of candidates is a continuing and purposeful part of its responsibility from recruitment, at admission, through the progression of courses and clinical experiences, and to decisions that completers are prepared to teach effectively and are recommended for certification. The provider demonstrates that development of candidate quality is the goal of educator preparation in all phases of the program. This process is ultimately determined by a program’s meeting of Standard 4.

Our Special Education program has intentionally focused on deepening our teacher candidate pool of applicants. It is our firm belief that intentionally deepening the program candidate pool allows us to focus on increasing the quality of our future teachers. Our program builds cohorts with an emphasis on high quality academic, dispositional, diverse backgrounds that will contribute to the long-range goal of preparing teachers to educate the diverse needs of our P-12 students. We support our candidates through the progression of the program, clinical experiences, and into their own P-12 classrooms.


Admission criteria:

Application materials:

Admissions data:

During the 2017-18 academic year, admissions for the Special Education program were conducted once during the spring semester.  We admitted 19 candidates with an average GPA of 3.48. This was an improvement from last academic year. We accepted approximately 79% of student applicants. Of the 19 candidates, 17 were female and 2 were male. The candidate’s GPAs ranged from 2.76-4.00. The diversity of the incoming students for 2017-2018 included 2% Hispanic and 17% White. In review of the data, the program was significantly underrepresented in minority groups. This is an area that needs to be addressed in our recruitment efforts.

Special Education Admissions process:

  • Paper screening
  • Invitation to an admissions interview with the Program Coordinator and Faculty
  • Interview and final decision


Our admissions rate was high. We have attracted students from a variety of backgrounds and have increased our male population within our program.


Professional dispositions need to be obtained upon admissions by at least two of the faculty members as initial data points.
We need to recruit a more diverse student population.

Plans for next academic year:

  1. Continue to interview candidates with all special education faculty.
  2. Strengthen recruitment efforts in the area of diversity.
  • When reviewing the program’s admission standards and process, do they contain sufficient, appropriate, and multiple measures of candidate qualifications (including disposition) for your program?

Yes. With the revision of the admission criteria, we believe that we are attracting and retaining qualified candidates who possess the dispositions we value within our program.

  • Are this past year’s admitted students – high-quality candidates?

Although we had a wide GPA range for 2017-2018, the students possessed the professional dispositions that we value within the Special Education program.

  • Do this past year’s admitted students reflect the diversity of Orange County/Southern California?

We still have room to grow with regards to diversity. Our recruiting efforts this upcoming academic year will target students of diversity.

  • When reviewing your program’s recruiting and admission processes, what improvements are planned for this area?

We will implement an on-demand writing sample to ensure that every candidate meets the rigorous standards of our program.

  • Explain how you know that the evidence you are assembling to justify your case for Standard 3 is valid and credible. What can you say about data validity and reliability? About data relevance for the topic that it is to inform? About its representativeness?

The data on our candidate race/ethnicity is valid and reliable as it represents the cohort of students that enter our program.

We intend to establish reliability and validity on the disposition’s rubric moving forward.

  • Describe the uses you are making of the evidence for Standard 3 by involving stakeholders and undertaking or planning modifications in your preparation courses and experiences.

We intend to use the evidence for Standard 3 to continue to make progress by recruiting diverse groups of teacher candidates as well as work on ensuring that the candidates maintain the necessary dispositions for teaching. 


CAEP Standard 3.1. Plan for Recruitment of Diverse Candidates Who Meet Employment Needs The provider presents plans and goals to recruit and support completion of high-quality candidates from a broad range of backgrounds and diverse populations to accomplish their mission. The admitted pool of candidates reflects the diversity of America’s P-12 students. The provider demonstrates efforts to know and addresses community, state, national, regional, or local needs for hard-to-staff schools and shortage fields, currently STEM, English-language learning, and students with disabilities.

Currently, our candidates do not represent the diversity of Orange County/Southern California. We intend to work on this standard by strategically partnering with the University on its initiative for diversity and inclusion. For example, offering tuition support through scholarships is one way to support candidates who may not be able to afford the tuition of the program.

CAEP Standard 3.1 Evidence

  • See Diversity Report


CAEP Standard 3.2 Candidates Demonstrate Academic Achievement  REQUIRED COMPONENT – The provider meets CAEP minimum criteria or the state’s minimum criteria for academic achievement, whichever are higher, and gathers disaggregated data on the enrollment candidates whose preparation begins during an academic year. The CAEP minimum criteria are a grade point average of 3.0 and a group average performance on nationally normed assessments of mathematical, reading, and writing achievement in the top 50 percent of those assessed. An EPP may develop and use a valid and reliable substantially equivalent alternative assessment of academic achievement. The 50th percentile standard for writing will be implemented in 2021.

Starting in the academic year 2016-2017, the CAEP minimum criteria apply to the group average of enrolled candidates whose preparation begins during an academic year. The provider determines whether the CAEP minimum criteria will be measured (1) at admissions, OR (2) at some other time before candidate completion. In all cases, EPPs must demonstrate academic quality for the group average of each year’s enrolled candidates. Also, EPPs must continuously monitor disaggregated evidence of academic quality for each branch campus (if any), mode of delivery, and individual preparation programs, identifying differences, trends, and patterns that should be addressed under component 3.1, and plan for recruitment of diverse candidates who meet employment needs. CAEP will work with states and providers to designate, and will periodically publish, appropriate “top 50 percent” proficiency scores on a range of nationally or state normed assessments and other substantially equivalent academic achievement measures, with advice from an expert panel. Alternative arrangements for meeting the purposes of this component will be approved only under special circumstances and in collaboration with one or more states. The CAEP president will report to the board and the public annually on actions taken under this provision.

Continued work on this standard is needed. We intend create a system for reviewing the GPA of each candidate in the program each semester. According University guidelines, graduate students must receive a C+ or better in each course for credit. In addition, each semester the program conducts a students of concern survey for instructors to indicate candidates who may require additional support or have concerns about a candidate’s dispositions.

CAEP Standard 3.2 Evidence

  • To meet this standard, we can pull student GPA at any point in the program
  • Provide dispositional criteria when they enter (survey to a recommender)


CAEP Standard 3.3. Additional Selectivity Factors. Educator preparation providers establish and monitor attributes and dispositions beyond academic ability that candidates must demonstrate at admissions and during the program. The provider selects criteria, describes the measures used and evidence of the reliability and validity of those measures, and reports data that show how the academic and non-academic factors predict candidate performance in the program and effective teaching.

The program’s professional disposition rubrics (see link above) are aligned with the CTC TPEs and the CEC professional standards. We intend to develop reliability and validity of the professional disposition rubric.

CAEP Standard 3.3 Evidence


CAEP Standard 3.4 Selectivity During Preparation. The provider creates criteria for program progression and monitors candidates’ advancement from admissions through completion. All candidates demonstrate the ability to teach to college- and career- ready standards. Providers present multiple forms of evidence to indicate candidates’ developing content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and the integration of technology in all of these domains.

Our program uses an internal student tracker to monitor student progress (see evidence above). Program faculty meet with their advisees at least one time per semester to ensure progress towards program completion. University program evaluations are used to monitor progress as well.

CAEP Standard 3.4 Evidence


CAEP Standard 3.5. Selection at Completion. Before the provider recommends any completing candidate for licensure or certification, it documents that the candidate has reached a high standard for content knowledge in the fields where certification is sought and can teach effectively with positive impacts on P-12 student learning and development.

University program evaluations are used to ensure that each candidate is meeting the program requirements.

CAEP Standard 3.5 Evidence


CAEP Standard 3.6. Before the provider recommends any completing candidate for licensure or certification, it documents that the candidate understands the expectations of the profession, including codes of ethics, professional standards for practice, and relevant laws and policies. CAEP monitors the development of measures that assess candidates’ success and revises standards in light of new results.

Prior to the program recommending a candidate for their credential, all program requirements must be successfully met including: student teaching, passing scores on TPEs, exit exam with the program coordinator.

CAEP Standard 3.6 Evidence


CAEP Standard 4: Program Impact. The provider demonstrates the impact of its completers on P-12 student learning and development, classroom instruction, and schools, and the satisfaction of its completers with the relevance and effectiveness of their preparation.

CAEP Standard 4.1 Impact on P-12 Student Learning and Development REQUIRED COMPONENT – The provider documents, using multiple measures that program completers contribute to an expected level of student-learning growth. Multiple measures shall include all available growth measures (including value-added measures, student growth percentiles, and student learning and development objectives) required by the state for its teachers and available to educator preparation providers, other state-supported P-12 impact measures, and any other measures employed by the provider.

We intend to conduct graduate surveys of our alumni once they have completed our program. The goal of the survey would target the strengths and areas of improvement of our program. We intend to use this information to adjust our program to ensure that our candidates are receiving quality instruction and are successful in the P-12 classroom.

CAEP Standard 4.1 Evidence


CAEP Standard 4.2 Indicators of Teaching Effectiveness. The provider demonstrates, through structured and validated observation instruments and/or student surveys, that completers effectively apply the professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions that the preparation experiences were designed to achieve.

We intend to conduct graduate surveys of our alumni once they have completed our program. The goal of the survey would target the strengths and areas of improvement of our program. We intend to use this information to adjust our program to ensure that our candidates are receiving quality instruction and are successful in the P-12 classroom.

CAEP Standard 4.2 Evidence


CAEP Standard 4.3 Satisfaction of Employers. The provider demonstrates, using measures that result in valid and reliable data and including employment milestones such as promotion and retention, that employers are satisfied with the completers’ preparation for their assigned responsibilities in working with P-12 students.

We have developed a plan that includes an employer survey as well as follow up interviews with employers to obtain the necessary information regarding employer satisfaction.

CAEP Standard 4.3 Evidence


CAEP Standard 4.4 Satisfaction of Completers. The provider demonstrates, using measures that result in valid and reliable data, that program completers perceive their preparation as relevant to the responsibilities they confront on the job, and that the preparation was effective.

We conduct graduate outcome surveys and exit interviews for ongoing program improvement. The exit interview results indicate that candidates are prepared to meet the content areas for special education.

CAEP Standard 4.4 Evidence