In 2002, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved new special education licensure options. In 2003, the State Board voted to remove the requirement for a second academic concentration for special education teacher candidates. These changes were designed to address the special educator shortage while providing more flexibility in designing programs resulting in increased expertise in the respective licensure areas.
Previous special education (SPED) licensure options were built on a categorical model and included initial licensure in behavior and emotional disorders, learning disabilities, and mental retardation. The low-incidence/severe and profound handicap license was available as an add-on SPED license.
The new SPED initial licensure options are based on a non-categorical model with two licenses: the SPED general curriculum (GC) license and the SPED adapted curriculum (AC) license. The GC license prepares teachers to work with children with disabilities who are pursuing a high school diploma and are in the general education curriculum. The AC license prepares teachers to work with children with significant cognitive disabilities who are not pursuing a regular high school diploma and whose education is based in an extension of the general curriculum and an adapted curriculum.
Program courses in each option provide a common core of the general knowledge and skills necessary for beginning teachers. The special education program area works in partnership with the educational community in the development of these professional special educators.