Skip to Main Content

The Path Forward

Severe Disabilities PreK-12 Initial Licensure

Bay Path University's program in Severe Disabilities (all levels) is designed to prepare professionals in the field of developmental disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorders for Massachusetts Initial Licensure. The concentration in severe disabilities emphasizes modifications for the general education curriculum, applied academics, alternative assessments, transition and vocational strategies, and school and community inclusion. Threaded throughout the program are themes of diversity, community and family collaboration, and technology.

This program includes a yearlong practicum and is for students seeking Massachusetts Initial Licensure in Severe Disabilities (All Levels).

Courses are held on weekends at our ConcordEast Longmeadow, or Sturbridge, Massachusetts campuses, with some courses being offered in an online format.

MSEd 39 credits
Required courses (21 credits): SPE505, SPE511, SPE515, SPE520, SPE525, SPE531, SPE548
Pre-practicum courses (0 credits): SPE554 and SPE555
Practicum courses (12 credits): SPE557, SPE527, SPE537
Elective courses (6 credits): Students can select from a wide number of approved graduate elective courses from Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Special Education, Special Education Administration, English as a Second Language, or Reading & Literacy Instruction.

EdS 39 credits
The Specialist in Education (EdS) degree with the concentration in Severe Disabilities All Levels PreK- 12 requires the completion of 39 credits hours and a practicum or internship experience to meet degree requirements. The EdS is an advanced degree that provides teachers who currently hold a master’s degree with an area of specialization.

Required courses (27 credits): SPE505, SPE511, SPE515, SPE520, SPE525, SPE530, SPE531, SPE540, and SPE548
Pre-practicum courses (0 credits): SPE554 and SPE555
Practicum courses (12 credits): SPE 557, SPE 527, SPE 537
Elective course (3 credits): Students can select from a wide number of approved graduate electives courses from the Applied Behavior Analysis, Education, Psychology, or Special Education programs.


The Special Education Non-Licensure concentration also requires 39 credit hours but does not require a practicum or internship experience.

Curriculum & Schedules

Code Course Name Credit Hours
SPE505 Inclusion, Consultation and Collaboration for Meaningful Access to Curriculum 3

This course examines best practices for teaching children preschool through secondary with disabilities in inclusive settings. The focus is on identifying and adapting for students’ instructional and social emotional needs utilizing the Massachusetts Curriculum frameworks. Topics include: educational terminology; team teaching and collaboration; preparing, implementing, and evaluating IEPs; design or modification of curriculum and materials; reasonable accommodations; teaching techniques; behavior and classroom management strategies; social and emotional learning; instruction on the appropriate use of augmentative and alternative communication and other assistive technologies; and ways to prepare and maintain students in general education; relationship of related services and family members, and assessment strategies for team effectiveness and student learning.

SPE511 Applied Behavior Analysis 3

This course provides students with a basic understanding of the application of behavior analysis to a wide variety of human conditions. The definitions, etiologies, and characteristics of severely disabling conditions; theories, concepts, and methods of assessing children and adolescents; preparing implementing, and evaluating IEP’s; ways to prepare and maintain students in general education; relevant federal and state special education law; techniques for developing skills to facilitate placement in the least restrictive environment; augmentative and assistive technologies; and history of applied behavior analysis will be covered, as well as the use of behavioral principles to increase and decrease behavior. The role of assessment and generalization and maintenance issues will be stressed. Some applications that are highlighted include self-control, token economies, systematic desensitization, and stimulus control and modeling.

SPE515 Foundations for Understanding Inclusive Schools 3

Students focus on the historical, philosophical, legal, and ethical perspectives of educational services for learners with disabilities and services offered by outside agencies, including vocational, work study, and transitioning options. The focus is on designing or modifying curriculum; identifying and adapting for students’ instructional and social emotional developmental needs utilizing the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Because legislation and subsequent litigation, related to the education of children and youths with disabilities has become increasingly specific and mandatory, this course will review relevant federal and state special education law and how it applies to the education of students with special needs; educational terminology; instruction on the appropriate use of augmentative and alternative communication and other assistive technologies; preparing, implementing, and evaluating IEPs; ways to prepare and maintain students in general education; social and emotional learning; techniques for developing skills to facilitate placement in the least restrictive environment; and current models and best practices in public school settings.

SPE520 Learners with Special Needs 3

This course provides an overview of types of disabilities in learners’ preschool through secondary according to federal and state laws in special education. Emphasis is on identification of disabling conditions and techniques used to promote successful inclusion of learners with and without special needs in educational settings. Topics covered include the teaching of Math; the teaching of English language arts; preparing, implementing, and evaluating IEP’s; equipment adaptions, theories of language development; design or modification of curriculum intervention and instructional strategies for diverse learners using the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks; theories of child development, social and emotional development, instruction on the appropriate use of augmentative and alternative communication and other assistive technologies; ways to prepare and maintain students in general education; educational terminology utilized with students with special needs; source and operation of orthotic devices, medical technologies and prosthetic devices; understanding collaborative partnerships with families; and working with community and outside agency resources. At least 10 hours of instruction covering the teaching of mathematics and at least 10 hours of instruction covering the teaching of English Language Arts are delivered in this course.

SPE525 Multisensory Language and Literacy Strategies 3

Students explore content and teaching strategies used to develop competent readers and writers, based upon guidelines in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and techniques for developing skills to facilitate placement in the least restrictive environment. Topics include the teaching of reading; expanding literacy across the content areas, language arts instruction, diagnosis and assessment of reading skills using a variety of assessment techniques, educational terminology; theories of language development; design and modification of curriculum and intervention programs for success in reading for all levels, and concepts of digital literacy are introduced. Focus on identifying and developing appropriate multisensory structured language strategies including knowledge of theories, programs and practices, phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary development, use of formal and informal assessments; and ways to prepare and maintain students in general education. At least 10 hours of instruction covering the teaching of reading are delivered in this course.

SPE527 Curriculum I - English, Reading, History/Social Science 3

This course is designed to provide prospective teachers the content of and effective strategies for teaching English language arts, history/social science curriculum based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, so that teachers can help teacher Candidates develop communicative competence. Special attention is given to curriculum content and understanding the characteristics and instructional implications of moderately and severely disabling conditions.

SPE530 Curriculum Design and Assessment 3

Using a case study approach, students learn to apply the theories of cognitive, social, emotional, language, and physical development from childhood through adolescence to select, construct, use and interpret non-discriminatory and developmentally appropriate assessments relevant to diverse learners with mild and moderate disabilities. The Massachusetts Frameworks are used to guide decisions in both curriculum and instruction and ways to prepare and maintain students in general education. In addition, students will understand the characteristics and instructional implications of moderately and severely disabling conditions. Course assignments are designed to help students gain an understanding of educational terminology utilized with students with special needs; and differentiated instruction and ways to implement meaningful instruction for all students, especially students with disabilities by designing and modifying curriculum and instructional materials. Strongly recommended: complete SPE 525 prior to enrolling in this class.

SPE531 Teaching and Assessing Students with Severe Disabilities 3

This course is intended to give students the knowledge base to understand the characteristics and instructional implications of severely disabling conditions in order to provide challenging and comprehensive instruction designed to help students make progress against state and local standards, as well as individual needs related to disability. This course will also cover strategies for collaboration and consultation with other caregivers and professionals, including transition to post-secondary education activities. In addition, this course will cover certain components of the IEP process such as summary writing of findings in given assessments, goal writing and transition planning, necessary to provide free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and entry into the adult services system.

SPE537 Curriculum II – Math, Science, Technology and Engineering 3

This course teaches methods essential to effective K‐12 STEM instruction by focusing on current research, standards‐based instruction, and individual needs of diverse student populations. In addition, students apply basic principles and concepts for digital literacy and computer science in computing and society, digital tools and collaboration, and computing systems. Finally, students gain understanding characteristics and instructional implications of moderately and severely disabling conditions.

SPE540 Research in Education 3

Applied research methodologies, including case analysis, action research, and survey research will be investigated to enable educators to become consumers of available research and to conduct appropriate research projects focusing on the application of programmatic coursework to improving school/community-based curriculum and instruction.

SPE548 Reading and Language Arts for English Language Learners 3

The course focuses on current theories and their applications related to the teaching of ELLs. This course is designed to promote continuous improvement in educator practice, and to build teachers’ confidence and familiarity with research-proven practices for working with ELLs. This course is made up of two modules: A) ELLs: Their World and Second Language Acquisition Process in the SEI Classroom and B) Academic Language and Literacy Development in the SEI Classroom. Students are only endorsed for SEI if they complete an initial licensure program at Bay Path University.

SPE554 Pre-Practicum I- Moderate Disabilities PreK-8, Moderate Disabilities 5-12, and Severe Disabilities All Levels 0

Pre-practicum and seminar class meets a minimum of three times during the spring semester and is designed to prepare the special education initial licensure candidate for the pre-practicum seminar II experience. PLEASE NOTE: A student needs to have enrolled and completed SPE 554 (spring course) and SPE 555 (summer course) in sequence order to enroll in a practicum. Even if you took SPE 554 in a previous semester, you must retake SPE 554if you did not sequence it with SPE 555. Both of these courses are for 0 credit and a grade is either pass or fail. Candidates must pass ALL required MTEL tests for the licensure sought, as well as, receive a PASSING grade in pre-practicum seminar I SPE 554 to be eligible for pre-practicum seminar II SPE 555.

SPE555 Pre-Practicum II- Moderate Disabilities PreK-8, Moderate Disabilities 5-12, and Severe Disabilities All Levels 0

Pre-practicum hours begin at the beginning of the public school year (August/September). This experience provides the moderate disabilities PreK-8, moderate disabilities 5-12, and severe disabilities all levels initial licensure candidate a consistent, supervised experience in a public school/Chapter 766 school setting. A minimum of 80 hours is required in the appropriate school setting beginning the first week of school August/September. Pre-practicum students are supervised jointly by the school supervising practitioner and university program supervisor. Students will have a minimum of one observation during the pre-practicum II experience.
Bi-weekly seminar classes are required. Prerequisite: SPE 554, and passing scores on all MTELs for the license sought prior to beginning this course.

SPE557 Practicum: Severe Disabilities (Level: ALL) 6

This practicum involves full-time supervised teaching responsibilities in a public school classroom (PreK-8) or Chapter 766 approved school with learners with severe disabilities from September to June. It requires papers and attendance at weekly seminars. Practicum hours begin the last week of September/first week of October.
Prerequisites: SPE 554 and SPE 555

Eligible for Initial license in Severe Disabilities Level All.