Special Education Licensure in Virginia

Oct 20, 2021

In 2019, Virginia had 14, 620 special education teachers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you would like to join the workforce that helps educate student with disabilities and teach them how to be independent, the following steps could help.

Requirements for Virginia Spanish Teachers

Average Salary for Special Education Teachers in Virginia (2019)* N/A (Preschool)
$68,080 (Kindergarten and Elementary School)
$73,570 (Middle School)
$62,290 (Secondary School)
Required Degree Bachelor's Degree
Required Field Special Education (K-12) General Curriculum
Testing Requirements Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) subtests Reading and Writing; Praxis Reading for Virginia Educators: Elementary and Special Education; Praxis Braille Proficiency (optional)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Education Requirements

In Virginia, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree and teacher preparation program at an approved and accredited college/university. A Bachelor of Science in Special Education -- General Curriculum K-12 is designed to provide future teachers with an understanding of special education law and behavior management techniques. Other topics you'll likely see in your special education program include:

  • Technology in the classroom
  • Foundation in education
  • Diagnostic measurement
  • Transition planning
  • Inclusion and diversity

A key component of the program is the student teaching practicum, though which aspiring teachers hone their skills in a real classroom while under the advisement and supervision of a mentor.

Step 2: Pass Required Exams

The VCLA (Virginia Communications and Literacy Assessment) includes two subtests. The reading subtest includes 40 multiple-choice questions, while the writing subtest consists of 40 multiple-choice questions, three short-answer questions, and two essay assignments. In order to pass, you must score no less than 235 on each subtest.

There are two Praxis exams directed toward special education teachers: Reading for Virginia Educators: Elementary and Special Education and Braille Proficiency. The braille assessment should taken by special education teachers who intend to work with visually impaired students. The former assessment is required for all special education teachers, and it includes 100 multiple-choice questions and three constructed-responses. It looks at five categories:

  • Assessment and diagnostic teaching
  • Oral language and oral communication
  • Reading development
  • Writing and research
  • Analysis and application

You'll have two and half hours to complete the exam, and you must score 157 or higher to pass.

Step 3: Fulfill Other Required Training

All teachers in Virginia, including special education teachers, must must all be certified in CPR, first aid, and defibrillator training. This is really important for special ed teachers, as a fall or injury could be more likely with a physically disabled student. All prospective teachers must also complete the DOE online training program on dyslexia awareness. The final training you'll need to complete is the child abuse and neglect recognition training program from the Virginia Department of Social Services.

Certification Resources for Virginia Special Education Teachers

Special education licensure requires you to pass certain exams. The following links lead to study guides and practice tests that can help you prepare.

  • Prepare for the Praxis Exam
  • Virginia Communication & Literacy Assessment (VCLA): Practice & Study Guide
  • Praxis Reading for Virginia Educators - Elementary & Special Education (5306): Practice & Study Guide
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