Teacher Credentials: Can I Request Them Without Insulting a Teacher?

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I’m concerned about the level of experience the special ed teacher has with implementing my child’s reading program. She is in the 4th grade and will start the Reading Mastery/REACH program at her school. My daughter is a bright dyslexic, socially well adjusted. She is a hard worker with a great attitude.

I asked the school for her qualifications and they told me they were not required to provide that information.

If your child attends a school that receives Title I funds, you are entitled to information about the teacher’s qualifications
Read this article about a parent’s right to know:

Last year this teacher taught her (using Lindamood Bell) in a pull-out class and she made zero progress, she regressed.

She continues to read 2 years below her grade level and had made no progress in these specialized reading programs.

I wonder if this teacher has appropriate/adequate training in this area. Can I ask that? Will the teacher be insulted?

There is no reason why a professional in any field should feel insulted if someone asks for their credentials. If they have the proper credentials, they should be happy to show them to you. If they get defensive or insulted, I have to wonder about their credentials.

One question is how much training the teacher had in the Lindamood Bell program. Many teachers have an overview or short course but don’t complete the full certification program. I also wonder how long tutoring sessions last and if this should be one-on-one, in a small homogeneous group.

This article about criteria for remedial reading programs may help:


If your child regressed when she was being tutored by a person who is certified in Lindamood Bell tutoring, I wonder if the teacher was implementing the program as it is intended to be implemented, or if she has sufficient training.

  1. If a child has autism, been traumatized, and possibly has PTSD. Does the special ed teacher need to trauma informed?

  2. the reason why i would get offended is because it sounds like you’re questioning their capabilities as a teacher

  3. What about a disabled child who is identified as having reading struggles as early as late second grade, but they are now 6th grade and still not given any reading supports. What is the responsibility of the school? This is a child who is excelling in Math, Spelling, Science, History, etc, and even written language (with a few supports) but is currently said to be reading 2nd grade level (a drop each year from what was 4th grade when she was in KG) What is the law about supports? Currently the support offered is to place her on a modified diploma (which I denied).

  4. Help, I have a MAT in Special Ed. Type 10 with no methods in teaching and took a job for a cross-cat class room. with 7th graders with LD, SLD, ED, OHI and EMH. My job description was changed 1 week before I started. I am forced to teach blocked math and science with no books and 14 students in a classroom for an hour and 40 minutes.
    Doesn’t the law state that I have to be HQ or endorsed to teach Math or Science with no more than 8 students unless the school has a waiver?. Isn’t Cross-Cat classes yo be phased out by 2010? These poor students have been in the same CC class all of their years of schooling? I eat sleep and breath Wrightslaw and want to become and Advocate- Meanwhile, I’m living with IEP’s that aren’t locked up, each teacher has the legal hard copy and I have no clue as how to teach these subjects !

  5. I do not think that it should even have to be considered that you might be insulting a teacher. Fact is; someone who is qualified should not have a problem with the question. If anything they should admire you for the concern. you are the parent .

    i worked for five years under the leadership of one of the finest special ed teachers out there. i saw first hand what can happen when the teacher actually knows what he or she is doing. students flourish!!

    it’s also the opposite when the teacher does not have the proper training or desire to learn. a four year degree may well be the means to get the job; but it does not mean they have the proper training.

    ask away your childs future.

  6. Diana:
    You are mostly correct- however there are ‘specialities’ in the special ed certification ‘in many states’-
    Yes one could obtain a ‘cross categorical’ certification that prepares one to teach in a general way-and here in AZ that is what I needed to teach children with primary dx of autism- Most of my classes focused on MR/MOMR and OHI, as well as severe physical impairments- However! My district encouraged and supported me in taking many workshops specifically designed to help me have more training and skills to support my teaching assignment! AZ does not have a distinct certification for Autism (yet), as it does for OHI, Visal impairment, hearing specialists, or MOMR severe-
    I continue to take classes ( such as PECS, ABA training, EDMARK, WILSON’s, Touchmath, and TEACCH) to ensure I have the skills I need!

  7. To Joleen and all other SPED teachers-
    Unfortunatly we are at a shortage of willing sped teachers! Any teacher willing to take the additional task of teaching children with varying needs, (more than an average class) and willing to go back to school to gain more knowledge- deserves a chance!
    I began as an emergency certified teacher in SPED- (I have background in DDD services for 20 years too)- and as any ‘new’ teacher, I was green- had to learn lots! I am proud of my accomplishments, certifications and knowledge- and I am still learning (as all good teachers do)- I welcome sharing my credentials with parents- but this does not make one a skilled teacher-this can only be accomplished with time, effort and openmindeness! I would be proud to mentor any teacher willing to ‘switch’ over from general ed setting to special ed!

  8. I would also wonder (as a teacher) if this may not be an appropriate program for this child! Often teachers are given specific programs/tools purchased by the district /school for reading/math-and discouraged from utilizing other programs. As a teacher I was given Edmark -worked well with several of my children (self contained) and not with 2 others- they did better with Wilson Foundations! I am glad I have both!

  9. My child is in Kindergarten and RSP services were recently added to his IEP: 15 min. in reading and 15 min. in math, four days per week. Although at the IEP it was verbally noted that the RSP teacher would go in for 15′ and his paraprofessional would go in for the other 15 minutes each day, the paraprofessional goes in each day and provides the entire 30 minutes of instruction. What are the rules governing how much instructional time the para can provide? (I learned my lesson to get every detail in writing next time).

  10. My child’s special education teacher is a “case manager.” She does not teach core classes. But she is supposed to oversee the processes of a Free Appropriate Public Education.

    If I understand correctly, she this case manager doesn’t need to be “highly qualified.”

    What standards must she meet?

    • Larry: A “highly qualified teacher” has demonstrated competence in a core academic subject (English, math, science, etc). The teacher is judged to be competent if s/he has a major in a core academic subject or passes a state test in a core academic subject.

      Special ed is an educational specialty, not a core academic subject. If a teacher has a degree in special ed, but not in a core academic subject, then the teacher is not “highly qualified.” The law does not mention case managers.

  11. What constitutes a “highly qualified” teacher for students having low-incidence disabilities like MR and VI and MI? If a teacher teaches a “typical” specialty class, like Advanced Placement(AP), or IB, or Honors/Gifted, I know what extra education/training they have completed. But what extra training does a special education teacher assigned to a self-contained classroom for students having the most complex needs receive? Nothing! And in Texas, most special education teachers receive their teaching certificates through “alternative certification” programs, which by and large do not address the unique educational needs of students having low-incidence needs.

  12. Joleen: The law requires teachers of core academic subjects to be “highly qualified.” If special ed teachers provide instruction in core academic areas (reading, math, language, science, history, etc), they must be highly qualified.

    Special ed is a certification or specialty, not a core academic area. I don’t think parents could sue because a teacher doesn’t have a special ed certification, especially if that teacher meets the highly qualified requirements in NCLB and IDEA.

  13. I am a SPED teacher and I agree… it would thrill me for someone to ask my credentials. Furthermore, it would lead to a great discussion about what the parent expects, how we can partner to work on literacy at home, etc.

    Also… who pays the teacher’s salary? Taxpayers. We work for you and your children. You have every right to check credentials of ANYONE providing you a service you’ve paid for, especially teachers.

  14. I am a special education teacher and would love if any parent asked about my credentials. I am fully certified and it shows that you are involved in your child’s education. I am having some issues along these lines and wonder if anyone can help. My current district/school has been hiring teachers in special education that do not have a clear credential. They are hired and then allowed to go to school to get that credential. I feel this is a bad policy and shows disregard for those of us that major in special education and chose this as our life’s work. If any teacher can just say, “Ok, I’ll teach Special Education next year”, they give them the job. I am assuming that it’s not illegal, but it’s not the best practice. Could parents complain ar sue if a teacher does not have a current clear credential? Please let me know what you think.

  15. My son has diagnosed static encephalopathy secondary to central nervous system cytoarchitectural “wiring” differences resulting in deficits in visual- perceptual and visual motor processing. This results in orthographic dysgraphia. How can I make sure my son’s teachers know how to address and teach him with these deficits. The school district lists his category for qualification as health impaired but does not list orthographic dysgraphia as a specific disability there for he does not have a scribe or computer software to be able to express himself in writing.


  16. If I understand correctly Congress is reviewing the IDEA this year.
    It seems that it would be a good recommendation to ask they consider mandating that any deviation of highly qualified staff be documented in the child’s IEP so that experience can be considered in the event that IEP goals are not being met.

    ie. The school has a teacher with a proven track record that they believe will be a good fit to administer REACH methodology.
    It seems that it should be disclosed to the parent that this teacher walks on water and is “beginning to expand her expertise in this area of education”.

    If Progress is not made, full disclosure would ensure that modifications are made based on the child’s needs rather than staff experience.

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