New USC program creating more educators with Special Education backgrounds


The University of South Carolina says dozens of special education positions were left vacant in South Carolina schools last year because of a shortage of special education teachers. 

So now the university is trying to create more educators with special education backgrounds. 

The early years of a child’s education are usually the most crucial in a student’s academic career. But when a child has special needs it’s even more important to progress during those years.

“Maybe they’re not saying as many words or they’re not understanding the verbal language that they’re given. so then we see issues to how to provide modifications to meet their needs first,” explained Dr. Kate Ascetta, an assistant professor in the College of Education.

Legislation passes in 2017 requiring teachers to be licensed to teach special education for 3-5 year olds. Normally, a qualification like that wouldn’t be a problem, but at USC special education courses were limited to graduate students.  

Dr. Ascetta added, “We have a really robust special education program at the Masters and Ph.D level however we don’t have a current undergrad program except for now.”

The university is offering a special education program to undergraduate students so they can have that certification when they graduate. 

One of the students in the program explained how the lessons so far has been coming in handy with real-world experience she’s gaining now. 

Kyanna Samuel started the program in the summer. “I actually feel like I took a lo with me when I did so when I went to my daycare for work I used things in the textbook to find better ways to work with her and her parents.”

The goal of the program is to create qualified special education teachers that work for the students without adding an extra course load. 

“It was important to provide undergraduate students with exposure to a variety of teaching methodology and strategies and really strengthen our workforce and meet the needs of our state,” Ascetta continued. 

19 students started the early childhood special education program this summer. The students will take 6 online courses. And be eligible for that early childhood certification at the completion of the program. 

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