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​CSPG 61 - Special Education PK-12

​Instructional Area Codes: Special Education PK-12 - 9231,  Special Education PK-8 - 9226, Special Education 7-12 - 9227
Modified: March 1, 2021

The PK-12 Special Education certificates provide candidates with the skills, knowledge, and competencies necessary to meet the needs of students with disabilities in multiple settings.

Grade-Level Scope of Certificate(s)

A person holding a valid Pennsylvania certificate for Special Education PK-12 (age 3-21) is qualified to teach all special education students from PreK through grade 12. 

NOTE: The Special Education PK-12 certificate does not a require a corresponding content-specific certificate to be eligible for issuance. 

Certification Assignment

An educator holding a Special Education certificate is qualified to render diagnostic, prescriptive, and education services designed within an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to serve students having one or more disabilities; assist in writing the IEP for the identified students; provide appropriate modification to curriculum; and provide instructional support as outlined in the IEP.

Special Education certified teachers are qualified to offer pre-career technical and assessment services; provide basic occupational career awareness activities (such as job shadowing for paid/unpaid work experiences in a community-based operation; coordinate job training agreements; and make provision for the appropriate placement of these students in a work or community transition setting related to their career objectives.

Special Considerations

An educator certified in Special Education may:

  • provide professional development;
  • serve in the role of mentor/advisor; and
  • assist students in understanding how to read content area materials.

A local education agency (LEA) may make a written request to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for a staffing exception to the grade and age level limitations between Special Education PK-8 and Special Education 7-12 for individual teachers on a case-by-case basis. (22 Pa. Code §49.85 - Limitations) The LEA shall submit a written request to the Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality that provides justification for the exception. The Bureau will issue a letter of response that will contain a set time period for the exception to remain valid.

Certificate Clarifications

Other certification titles that remain valid are:

Certificate Title Grade Scope Valid to teach
Special Education PK-8 (9226)
Nursery level (age 3) through grade 8
Special Education 7-12 (9227)
7-12Grade 7 (age 12) through grade12 (age 21)
Special Education N-12
N-12Nursery level (age 3) through grade 12
Mental and/or Physically Handicapped K-12 (9235)
K-12Kindergarten through grade 12
Mentally Retarded (9220)
K-12Kindergarten through grade 12
Physically Handicapped (9240)
K-12Kindergarten through grade 12
Socially and Emotionally Disturbed (9260)
K-12Kindergarten through grade 12
Emotionally DisturbedK-12Kindergarten through grade 12

Note: All K-12 certificates may teach PreK-12 effective 9/22/07 per §49.85.

Certificate Restrictions

A Special Education 7-12 certificate may not be used at the sixth-grade level (see Special Considerations).


Program Specific Guidelines for Special Education PK-12

Program Specific Guidelines for Special Education PK-8 and Special Education 7-12

PA Public School Code: §1202, §1212, §1604

22 PA Code: Chapter 4: §4.21, §4.22, §4.23
Chapter 49: §49.11, §49.81, §49.85
Chapter 14

This revision supersedes all earlier CSPGs carrying this number and/or addressing this subject. Previous printing dates on this subject:  1973, 3/75, 3/78, 2/82, 1/87, 7/04, 5/05, 3/14, 10/18.

Summary of Changes

​Date of Revisions
​Major Changes to CSPG #61
​New Special Education PK-12 certificate was created under Act 82 of 2018.
​10/2018​The restriction for Special Education 7-12 to teach sixth grade was
  • Special Education N-12 certificate no longer issued effective 8/31/2013.
  • Special Education PK-8 and Special Education 7-12 certificates created effective 6/1/2010.
  • The Bridge program expired 7/1/2008 (for programs initiated 7/1/2005) and 7/1/2009 (for programs initiated 7/1/06). The Bridge program was extended until 8/10/2011.
  • Chapter §49.85 required Special Education PK-8 and Special Education 7-12 certificates and certificate programs implemented effective 6/1/2010.
  • Chapter §49.85 regulations for Special Education PreK-8 and Special Education 7-12 certificates, adopted 12/2007.
​5/9/2005​CSPG #61 – Co-teaching addressed for content area teaching
combined with Special Education (page 1).

​CSPG #61 – title change/number change: Special Education-Cognitive, Behavior, and Physical/Health Disabilities (CB/PHD) (Nursery-12).

  • Hearing Impaired, Visually Impaired, Speech Language Impaired certificate information stated in separated CSPGs.
  • Special Education certificate may be used for transition programs for students with IEP’s; formerly a Cooperative Education certificate was also required.

​CSPG #50 – Special Education Certification and Assignment Scope K-12.

  • Information on Hearing Impaired certificates and older titles.
  • Information on Visually Impaired and older titles.
  • Information on Mentally Retarded and older titles.
  • Information on Speech and Language Impaired.
  • Information on Letters of Authorization.
  • Information about the Curriculum & Instruction Supervisor; Pupil Personnel Services Supervisor; School Psychologist as related to special education.

​CSPG #50 – Certification in Special Education

  • Effective 7/1/1969 certificates no longer issued:
    • Speech Correctionist and Speech and Hearing Disorders.
      • New certificate – Speech Correction.
    • Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
      • New certificate – Hearing Impaired.
    • Visually Handicapped.
      • New certificate -Visually Impaired.
    • Mentally Retarded, Physically Handicapped, Socially and Emotionally Maladjusted.
      • New certificate – Emotionally Disturbed.
      • New certificate – Physically and Mentally Handicapped.
    • Elementary certification will no longer qualify the holder to teach exceptional students classified as “learning disabled;” grandfathering for employment from 1975-76 and continuing.
    • Gifted programs may be taught by a teacher in the area of scheduled instruction.
    • Social Restoration certificate may be used for remedial instruction except for exceptional students with learning disabilities.