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Online Graduate Certificate Will Prepare For Statewide Special Education Mandate

Beginning this fall, NC State’s College of Education will offer an online Graduate Certificate in Special Education: Implementing Multi-Tier System of Supports (GCSE: MTSS).

NC State Professor of Special Education, Edward J. Sabornie, believes educational initiatives in North Carolina and across the United States have fallen short. He notes a lack of understanding from administrators responsible for implementation and the absence of educators participating in the decision-making process when it comes to classroom instruction and behavior pedagogies, the method and practice of teaching.

The new graduate certificate program will be offered this fall through the College of Education and NC State Online and Distance Education. Sabornie says this particular online graduate certificate will address a statewide mandate to make sure every student in North Carolina’s public school system reaches their potential.

“The proposed GCSE: MTSS will directly address the statewide initiative in general education for all public schools in North Carolina to create positive environments that nurture and enable all students to be successful, reduce the number of inappropriate referrals to special education, decrease the number of school dropouts, and close the well documented academic and behavioral discrepancy gaps between and across racial, ethnic, and cultural subgroups,” Sabornie said.

According to Sabornie, the MTSS approach will require school districts to create an infrastructure to support the mandated MTSS system, including training to enhance educators’ skills.

“This provides an ideal climate in which to offer formal training in the model via the availability of an online graduate certificate program focused on MTSS,” Sabornie stated. “The MTSS approach requires schools and teachers to implement Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) systems in schools and classrooms to address student academic achievement and behavioral issues.”

With a full implementation set for 2020, students and teachers enrolled in NC State’s GCSE: MTSS program will be well prepared to adhere to the statewide mandate.

The certificate program is designed for any student who currently holds a North Carolina licensure in teaching, counseling, school administration or a related professional field. After earning the certificate, education professionals have another expertise in their teaching/administrative credentials.

The GCSE: MTSS is a 12-credit hour, online program.

Required core courses for the program include:

  • ECI 585 Education of Exceptional Children (3 credits)
  • ECI 571 Instructional  Strategies for Exceptional Learners (3 credits)
  • ECI 573 Applied Behavior Analysis for Teachers (3 credits)

Elective courses: Student (and advisor) select one of the following two courses:

  • ECI 584 Intervention for Behavior Problems of Students with Disabilities (3 credits)
  • ECI 576 Teaching Functional and Life Skills to Students with Disabilities (3 credits)

Sabornie believes the program will set the foundation for widespread dissemination and application of knowledge of MTSS.

“We anticipate that the certificate program will become a portal through which a substantial number of participants may ultimately pursue a Master of Education, a Master of Arts in Teaching, lateral entry certification in special education, or an “add-on” licensure in special education,” Sabornie said.

Students interested in the online graduate certificate can begin to apply in Spring 2017, with the program launching in Fall 2017.

Students with additional questions about the GCSE: MTSS program can email Dr. Ed Sabornie directly at