Director of Special Education (certificate)

The Department of Special and Early Education and the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations at NIU offer a standards-based preparatory program leading to certification in Director of Special Education.

The Director of Special Education program is being put on "hold" at the end of the Fall 2012 semester. This will allow to the faculty to revise the program to align with the State requirements for the license. All students currently in the program will finish the course work but no new students will be allowed to join the group. Please check back soon for additional information.



The program is comprised of five three-semester-hour courses, with a one-hour internship experience associated with each course. Candidates will generally enroll in these courses in cohort groups in which the courses will be offered in the following order:

  • TLSE 592 Seminar in Special Education (3)
  • LEEA 726 Special Education: Leadership and the Law (3)
  • TLSE 760 The Special Education Director (3)
  • LEEA 577 Administration and Supervision of Special Education (3)
  • TLSE 765 Seminar: Professional Collaboration in Schools (3)
  • TLSE 786 Internship in Special Education (5)
  • TLSE 786 (1) with TLSE 592: Candidates will conduct a culture audit of the internship setting, relating findings to the organization's mission. The culture audit must address cultural and linguistic diversity


Students may join the coursework at any time, please contact the advisor, Les Hecht for information on the admission process. At this time courses are being held at the NIU Naperville campus and are planned for the same day unless there are unforseen circumstances that require a change of location or day. Student must be accepted to the Graduate School as a student-at-large or a graduate student pursuing degree at NIU.

  • A separate application to the Department of Special and Early Education for the Director of Special Education program.
  • Hold Type 10 Special Education certificate, **Type 73 School service personnel certificate, or Type 75 administrative certificate.
  • 3.2 cumulative GPA in most recent degree program.
  • Two or more years of teaching experience in a Special Education setting.
  • Three letters of recommendation citing successful professional experience, positive dispositions, and potential for success as a director of special education. One of these letters must be written by someone with a type 75 certification.
  • Application essay addressing the program core values of ethical and visionary leadership.
  • A Basic Skills exam result of "passed" not exceeding ten years in validity at the time of application for the IL Type 75-Administrative Certificate's- Director of Special Education endorsement.

* To be recommended for the Type 75 with Director of Special Education endorsement candidates must have completed an MS degree. Students may complete the Director of Special Education coursework as part of an degree program at NIU.

** Candidates entering with a valid school service personnel certificate endorsed for speech-language pathology, school psychology, or school social work or an administrative certificate endorsed for superintendent, general administration or chief school business official need to provide evidence to the State they have completed:

     Survey of exceptional children (TLSE 540)

     Educational and psychological diagnosis and remedial techniques (ETR 524 or ETR 434)

     Classroom management for special educators (TLSE 554)

     Functional analysis for special educators (TLSE 560)

     Special methods courses covering at least three areas of disability (TLSE 512, TLSE 561, TLSE 563)

Before they are recommended for the Director of Special Education endorsement.

For a more comprehensive view of the entire program, please see the checklist.


As part of your course work you will be expected to purchase LiveText and to post some of your assignments on LiveText. LiveText is an electronic portfolio system that has been adopted by over 400 universities across the country and a majority of public universities in Illinois. LiveText will provide you with access to a very valuable technology tool and provide you with a powerful way to assess and document your own efforts. You can purchase a copy that will give you access for four years from the NIU Bookstore or search online and buy from Live Text directly. The College of Education uses this program to track student data for NCATE purposes.


Candidates will be assessed throughout their program for competency on the appropriate standards and will submit a comprehensive standards-based portfolio at the completion of TLSE 765. Candidates for the endorsement of special education director receive information about the development of their professional portfolio in two ways: (1) The information is available on the program website, and (2) Hard copies of the information are presented to students at their orientation meeting held during their first class in the program.

The following table summarizes assessments for major points in the program:


At completion of 8 hours of coursework and related internship experiences Completion of program
Meets standards in completion of standards-based assessments in TLSE 592 and LEEA 726 and related internship experiences.

Program steering committee review of
  • Disposition assessments
  • Internship performance appraisals followed by candidate-advisor conference to review progress.
  • Evidence of meeting Director of Special Education content (29.140) standards in a comprehensive portfolio.
  • Meet disposition requirements as indicated by ratings on assessment checklist at conclusion of TLSE 755. 
  • Successful completion of the Director of Special Education state content test 180 (and APT if not completed previously)
  • Exit essay addressing the program core values of ethical, visionary leadership 

Additional Information


Leslie Hecht
Academic Advisor
(815) 753-8457