Archive of Special Education - Program Review Launchpad

1. Program Description

1.1 Narrative Description

Overview of Cal Poly and the School of Education
Founded in 1901 as a state vocational high school, Cal Poly has evolved into a comprehensive polytechnic university with an emphasis on experiential learning. The School of Education (SOE) embodies Cal Poly’s "learn-by-doing" approach to instruction.

Housed within the College of Science and Mathematics (CSM), the SOE closely links education, math, and science faculty with school educators on curriculum, instruction, and supervision; applied scholarship; and service to teachers, schools, and the profession. In addition to housing the SOE, the CSM also houses the Center for Engineering, Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) and the department of Liberal Studies, which provides subject matter preparation to undergraduates who aspire to teach in the elementary grades.

The SOE vision reflects a universitywide commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Our mission extends the University’s principles of inquiry, collaboration, equity, and pluralism into the expectations for practice and the preparation of education professionals. The SOE recently adopted new Schoolwide Learning Themes that provide a platform for continuous improvement and a common lens for anchoring dialogue, professional development, and inquiry and assessment projects across the SOE.

Overview of the Special Education Program

The Preliminary Education Specialist Certification at Cal Poly is offered through the Cal Poly SOE Master of Science – Special Education (SPED) program. The program was approved for elevation from an M.A.-Education specialization to a standalone degree in fall 2017. Candidates progress through the one-year curriculum in a tight cohort model, with admission and enrollment offered each fall. Candidates come from a range of undergraduate degrees obtained at Cal Poly or other accredited institutions.

The integrated credential and M.S. program prepares candidates to earn credential in mild/moderate disabilities while concurrently allowing them to probe more deeply into educational research methodologies and the ways in which these approaches inform practice. Because of the combined M.S./credential curriculum, the SPED program heavily emphasizes advanced disciplinary knowledge, research, and critical thinking. The theoretical approach of the SPED program also reflects the Cal Poly learn-by-doing philosophy, the universitywide commitment to diversity and inclusion, and the SOE Clinical Practice Rubric, based on the Danielson framework (more deeply explored in Section 6 and 6.1 materials related to Clinical Practice).

Cal Poly’s Special Education program provides California with dedicated Special Education teachers who are competent, caring, and creative. Graduates of the program are particularly well prepared to: 

  • Wear the many “hats” required of a special educator, including: teacher, collaborator, data manager, behavioral specialist, and advocate
  • Make accommodations and/or modifications to create individualized learning plans for students receiving Special Education services
  • Create learning environments that are equitable, nurturing, and engaging
  • Collaborate with parents and school professionals in supporting children and youth with disabilities
  • Develop, implement, evaluate, and adjust Positive Behavioral Support plans to meet the needs of learners

1.1.1 Table of Models and Pathways

Credential Program delivery model location

current enrollment

(Fall 2018)



Special Education - Preliminary Mild/Moderate Education Specialist Credential Traditional Main Campus 15 19

3. Faculty Qualifications

3.1 Distribution Table

Full-Time Instructional Faculty         3  
Part-Time Instructional Faculty         3
Adjunct/Clinical Practice Supervisors         2
Instructional vacancies/anticipated hiring         0
total         8

3.2 Annotated Faculty List with Links to Vitae & Syllabi

Crutchfield, Stephen
Program Co-Coordinator, Assistant Professor (FT)

Wood, Leah
Program Co-Coordinator, Assistant Professor (FT)

Best, Megan
SOE Lecturer (PT)

Cleere, Deborah
SOE Lecturer (PT)

Ruef, Michael
Professor Emeritus (FT/FERP)

Thomas-Hicks, Lori
SOE Lecturer (PT)

    Additional Adjunct/Clinical Practice Supervisors 
    EDUC 442, 447, 449 - Fieldwork and Student Teaching

    Esperson, Donna 
    Scott-Simmons, Penny 

    3.3 Published Experience & Qualification Requirements

    3.4 Faculty Recruitment Documents

    4. Course Sequence

    4.1 Published Course Sequence from Catalog

    5. Course Matrix & Syllabi

    5.1 Course Matrix with I, P, A Indicated

    • NOTE: In developing hyperlinks to direct evidence within the syllabi, we have observed that links only function properly when viewed in a Google Chrome browser. If using Safari or Firefox, the links will navigate to the first page of the syllabi rather than the targeted evidence. We have annotated all the targeted evidence with comments in order to ease your efforts to search and browse within the syllabi.
    Quarter 1
    Quarter 2
    Quarter 3

    6. Fieldwork and Clinical Practice Documents

    6.1 Clinical Practice Narrative and Table 

    Clinical Practice Narrative & Theoretical Approach
    Clinical Practice experiences in the Cal Poly School of Education are deeply grounded in Learn by Doing; future educators work alongside experts in the field to hone their craft through a gradual release of responsibility. This Learn by Doing approach embeds Cal Poly’s innovative polytechnic approach to higher education with best practices and theories in education by building a Community of Practice that emphasizes continuous improvement and a culture of shared learning.

    In order to build a successful Learn by Doing Clinical Practice program, great care and thought goes into articulating all facets of the clinical experience, including: roles, coaching, language, and the supports that are leveraged at each phase of field experience. By intentionally articulating shared principles and values throughout Clinical Practice, the SOE builds meaningful connections between the Cal Poly campus and the field.

    In the SOE, Clinical Practice roles and responsibilities are expressed through The Triad, a designed collaboration between the Teacher Candidate, Cooperating Teacher, and Clinical Practice University Supervisor. Each member of the Triad participates in learning experiences that help to create a Community of Practice based on shared language, best practices, and theories. This ensures that the strategies, coaching, and evaluation that Teacher Candidates experience in the field are consistent with the theories and language promoted in SOE coursework.

    The Cal Poly School of Education further advances a shared vision of effective teaching and learning through the SOE Observation Tool, which articulates 17 Prioritized Skills at the center of effective teaching practice. While future educators study the theories and best practices behind these Prioritized Skills in their coursework, the SOE offers workshops and professional development resources for Cooperating Teachers, school site administrators, and our surrounding community in order to norm our collective understanding of the SOE Observation tool, and to encourage common language. By developing shared expectations and norms grounded in the Observation Tool, we tighten the relationship between the School of Education and fieldwork sites, creating a more coherent experience for our Teacher Candidates. Fostering this shared vision of teaching and learning also serves to demystify effective teaching practice and reveals a transparent development path for Teacher Candidates as they uncover and honor their own craft as future master teachers.

    The final linchpin in Cal Poly’s approach to Clinical Practice is building a community and experience that encourages continuous growth and improvement, along with the risk-taking that is inherent in that process. The Learn by Doing approach requires future educators, and the experts with whom they work alongside, to be open to new ideas, implement innovative strategies, assess, and reflect on resulting successes and inevitable failures. Developing these practices requires vulnerability, willingness to change, and the ability to own missteps. By encouraging these habits, however, the SOE ensures that future educators will be prepared for advanced studies in education, action research, and a commitment to continuous growth that will improve their practice and the outcomes of their students throughout their careers.

    6.2 Signed MOU & Placement Profiles 

    Robust evidence for the School of Education's Clinical Practice program is located with materials for Common Standard 3 - Clinical Practice, including:

    6.3 Supervisor/Cooperating Teacher Training Materials

    6.4 Documentation of Candidate Placements 

    • 2018-2019 (PDF) - Redacted for Candidate privacy.

    6.5 Clinical Practice Handbook/Manual 

    6.6 Fieldwork/Clinical Practice Syllabi

    CP I

    130 hours of Co-Teaching/Student Teaching in MAJOR/MINOR Placement
    (6.5 hrs x 2 days x 10 wks)

    CP II

    195 hours of Co-Teaching/Student Teaching in MAJOR/MINOR Placement
    (6.5 hrs x 3 days x 10 wks)

    CP III 325 hours of Co-Teaching/Student Teaching in MAJOR Placement
    (6.5 hrs x 5 days x 10 wks)

    6.7 Clinical Practice Assessment Instruments 


    Teacher Education Clinical Practice Links
    Observation Protocol Download PDF File
    Observation Rubric Download PDF File
    Observation Evaluation Form Download PDF File Word File

    Disposition Evaluation Form

    Download PDF File Word File

    Induction Transition Plan

    Download PDF File Word File

    7. Credential Recommendation and Evaluations

    7.1 Description of process insuring appropriate recommendation

    Evaluation of credential candidates and submission of credential recommendations are provided solely by Cal Poly SOE Credential Office, with final authority and oversight for recommendations entrusted to the Credential Analysts (under supervision of the SOE Director) who will always be current employees of the Cal Poly SOE.

    Evaluation of Education Specialist candidates begins during the initial admissions process (Admissions and Evaluations Flow Chart). Candidate qualifications are reviewed by the Program Advisor or delegate (Program Advisor Review). The Program Advisor makes a recommendation to the Credential Office whether a candidate should be admitted, conditionally admitted, or declined. The SOE Credential Office then conducts an initial SPED Credential Office Evaluation for all candidates, which includes formal checks for GPA, basic skills, subject matter, accredited degree, prerequisite credentials, etc. Candidates may submit required supplemental materials via a SPED STEP I Application. The Credential Office issues a final determination and admissions letter with information on outstanding requirements or conditions for admissions. Credential Office Evaluations are thoroughly updated and re-checked prior to student teaching. 

    Upon successful completion of the program, candidates are eligible to apply for a recommendation for a preliminary credential. Once candidates apply for a recommendation, SOE Credential Analysts perform a final SPED Credential Office Evaluation, including:

    • Basic skills
    • Possession of a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited institution
    • Subject matter requirement
    • U.S. Constitution, speaking and writing English, RICA, etc., as required
    • Certificate of Clearance
    • Health clearance (TB/Rubella)
    • Applicable Co-Requisites, as required (may include Health education, CPR training, etc.)

    7.2 Candidate Progress Monitoring Documents 

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