Group of special students in classroom, a down syndrome girl, two handicapped boys and cut

TExES Special Education #161

Please download and carefully read these lecture materials to prepare for the TExES exam.

Read all materials very carefully since the official exam is lengthy and rigorous!


Learning Objectives

Upon completion of these tasks, special education teacher candidates will demonstrate mastery of the following TExES competencies:

Competency 001: The beginning special education teacher understands and applies knowledge of the characteristics and needs of students with disabilities.
Competency 002: The beginning special education teacher understands formal and informal assessment and evaluation procedures and knows how to evaluate student competencies to make instructional decisions.
Competency 003: The special education teacher understands and applies knowledge of procedures for planning instruction for individuals with disabilities.
Competency 004: The special education teacher understands and applies knowledge of procedures for managing the teaching and learning environment, including procedures related to the use of assistive technology.
Competency 005: The special education teacher knows how to promote students’ educational performance in all content areas by facilitating their achievement in a variety of settings and situations.
Competency 006: The special education teacher understands and applies knowledge of issues and procedures for teaching appropriate student behavior and social skills.
Competency 007: The special education teacher understands and applies knowledge of transition issues and procedures across the life span.
Competency 008: The special education teacher promotes students’ performance in English language arts and reading.
Competency 009: The special education teacher promotes students’ performance in mathematics.

Competency 010: The special education teacher understands the philosophical, historical and legal foundations of special education.

Competency 011: The special education teacher applies knowledge of professional roles and responsibilities and adheres to legal and ethical requirements of the profession.

Competency 012: The special education teacher knows how to communicate and collaborate effectively in a variety of professional settings.

TExES Special Education EC-12 #161

Work through the following tasks and tests. 

Once all tasks and tests are complete, submit the test request form to sit for the official TExES exam.


In the United States, all students with disabilities are promised access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). An issue arises, though, in staffing a special education workforce to meet this requirement. For example, 49 states and the District of Columbia currently report shortages of special educators (U.S. Department of Education, 2021). More specifically, this includes 98% of the nation’s school districts (U.S. Department of Education, 2020). Texas has reported a special education teacher shortage during the past thirty years.


Further, teacher attrition is increasing at a rate that is parallel to that of the national population of students with disabilities, and the percentage of students receiving special education services is also growing (National Education Association, 2019). Due to the dual increase of teacher attrition and students receiving special education services, there is a severe need in the field of special education to address the shortage of educators.

Special education teachers must demonstrate knowledge of all applicable state and federal laws, including Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008; Texas Education Code specific to students with disabilities; Texas Administrative Code specific to students with disabilities; and Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public school districts to provide students with disabilities with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is legal documentation of how that FAPE is provided for a particular student across a program of special and related education services. The IEP is a collaborative document developed between school and service personnel (which may include special education teachers, general education teachers, administrators, related services providers and others) and a student’s family. IEPs are reviewed by all parties multiple times throughout a year, with changes made as appropriate to ensure a student is meeting their educational goals. The essential function of an IEP is to set out a plan for pursuing academic and functional advancement through specially designed instruction (Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, 2017, p. 992).


In practical terms, specially designed instruction (SDI) is instruction that is tailored to a particular student.

It addresses their Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals; accounts for their disability; provides modifications or adaptations to content; and encourages access to the general education curriculum. SDI is defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as “adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child under this part, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction

(i) To address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability; and
(ii) To ensure access of the child to the general curriculum…”
SDI can be provided in a variety of domains (i.e. academic, behavioral, social, etc.). Although often confused, SDI is not differentiation (designing for all learners); an accommodation (providing a change in how the student obtains information, such as Braille); or a modification (adjusting the content a student is meant to access). SDI is often provided by a special education teacher in a co-taught setting.


For this reason, special education teachers must:
(1) demonstrate a foundational knowledge of content specific TEKS and

College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS);
(2) apply content-specific knowledge to develop individualized goals and objectives that are aligned with the appropriate grade-level TEKS and CCRS;
(3) design appropriate learning and performance accommodations and modifications for students with exceptional learning needs in academic subject matter content of the general curriculum;
(4) apply content-specific knowledge to modify and differentiate instruction as well as provide access to instructional materials for a wide range of student performance levels;
(5) apply understanding of the subject matter TEKS and specialized curricula to inform programmatic and instructional decisions for students with high support needs

(6) promote engagement in the academic content by connecting learning to students’ lives (e. g., knowing students’ academic and cultural backgrounds) and using a variety of teacher-led (e.g., choral responding and response cards), peer-assisted (e. g., cooperative learning and peer tutoring), student-regulated (e.g., self-management), and technology-supported strategies shown empirically to increase student engagement. Monitoring student engagement and providing positive, constructive feedback can help sustain active student engagement and improve outcomes.


After passing your TExES exam, you may start applying for a TEACHER POSITION in your preferred school district to complete the Professional Practicum requirement for certification. All teacher candidates admitted to The Texas Institute for Teacher Education are eligible for hire and qualify for a TEA-issued Texas Intern/Probationary Teacher Certificate once the TExES Content exam is passed for the intended certification area. Review these helpful RESUME TIPS and JOB HINTS for future classroom educators.


Since many teacher position applications request a certification date, you may use the date that you expect to pass your TExES Content exam. Many teachers are provisionally hired pending the passing results on their TExES Content exam.  


After you pass your TExES Content exam, you may request a Statement of Eligibility (SOE). 


The SOE is not active until you pass your TExES Content Exam (and STR Exam if your intended certification is Core Subjects EC-6/4-8, ELAR 4-8, or ELAR/SS 4-8). It is evidence of your eligibility for a Texas Intern Teacher Certificate. Submit the SOE with all employment applications. Once your school district completes your SOE, please upload it to the PROFESSIONAL PRACTICUM so we can approve your Texas Intern Teacher Certificate. 

Use this link to access detailed information regarding TExES EXAMINATION REQUIREMENTS for the Texas Standard Teacher Certificate. Since TEA conducts a national criminal check on all applicants for a Texas Teacher Certificate, anyone may request a  PRELIMINARY CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECK  (PCHE), if desired. The PCHE is an evaluation of eligibility for a Texas educator certificate based on your self-reported criminal history. 

Clinical teachers do not need to apply for a certificate, but will earn the Texas Standard Teacher Certificate at the end of the 14 week practicum. If you want to apply for a teacher position, simply complete and submit your Letter of Admission and Statement of Eligibility (if active) with all employment applications. Your official admission date is the date you begin this course. Your program completion date is one year after your admission date. International bilingual education teacher candidates seeking a H1B visa will need to submit this LETTER OF ATTESTATION with employment applications. Once hired as an Intern or Probationary Teacher of Record, or placed as a Clinical Teacher, you may begin the Professional Practicum Module.


What’s the difference between a TEA-issued Intern Certificate and TEA-issued Probationary Certificate? For either certificate, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold at least a bachelor’s degree

  • Meet fingerprint requirements

  • Be a teacher candidate in good standing of an approved Texas EPP and serving as a Teacher of Record in a Texas public, charter, or TEA-recognized private school. Teachers of Record are placed on the employing district’s teacher salary and benefit schedule.


The main differences between the two is the type of tests an individual must pass and how long an individual may serve on the certificate. To be eligible for either certificate, a teacher candidate must pass all of the appropriate certification TExES Content examination(s). The Probationary Certificate requires an additional requirement of passing the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) examination. The Intern and Probationary Certificates are valid for a 12-month period from the date of issuance. However, an Intern Certificate cannot be renewed or extended. A Probationary Certificate may be renewed for two additional 12-month periods.