Maine DOE offers clarification on scope of practice for Certificate 079: Special Education Consultant

In response to questions regarding the scope of practice for Certificate 079: Special Education Consultant, the Department is providing the following guidance:

The Code of Maine Regulations (05-071 CMR Chapter 115 Parts I and II) contains the requirements for certification, authorization and approval of educational personnel who serve in public and certain approved private schools.

The standards and procedures defined by this rule are intended to provide the highest quality of personnel to help students meet the standards of the Maine Learning Results. Regarding the function of the 079, the rule states the following:

This certificate allows the holder to serve in kindergarten through grade 12 as a special education consultant in a public school, an approved private school, or an approved special education program. A special education consultant is one who provides educational assessments, consultation, and interventions for the purpose of identification, programming, or placement of special education students. Services are limited to the holder’s areas of training and expertise. This certificate does not authorize a person to serve as a school psychologist. (p. 37)

With respect to work with assessments, note that eligibility for the 079 certificate does not require applicants to have the training and expertise required to administer and interpret all educational assessments; rather, the rule requires the holder to limit services to his or her training and expertise. For the purposes of determining special education eligibility and making programming decisions, a number of assessments may be used. Achievement tests, which assess academic skills, may generally be administered by special education consultants who have had training specific to that assessment. However, there are some assessments that may only be administered or interpreted by certified or licensed personnel (e.g., Certificate 093: School Psychologist or Licensed Psychologist) and have the expertise in psychology and education necessary to consider the many influences on student behavior, skills and learning.

Publishers of educational assessments classify the assessments they publish with a qualification code. The codes inform the user what educational preparation and qualifications are required to administer, score and/or interpret the results of each assessment. Many, if not all, of the assessments that measure cognitive and psychological processes require formal training in psychology beyond the basic eligibility requirements of the 079 certificate. The Department encourages holders of both the 079 and the 093 to adhere to the ethical requirements of their fields of practice regarding the administration and interpretation of educational and psychological assessments. We also remind SAUs that when considering independent educational evaluations as part of the Individualized Education Program process, those evaluations must be completed by a qualified examiner (05-071 CMR Chapter 101).

Providing high quality educational experiences to our Maine students is of utmost importance to the Department. Education Evolving: Maine’s Plan for Putting Learners First, the Department’s strategic plan, includes great teachers and leaders as one of the five core priority areas. Although the Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth System is an initiative that has had more of the public focus as we support districts in ensuring effective teachers and leaders, our certification office also is continually working to ensure that applicants for certification, authorization or approval meet eligibility requirements, and school personnel must ensure that they practice within the scope of the credentials issued by the Department.

For more information on Certificate 079 or technical assistance, please contact the Maine DOE’s Director of Special Services Janice Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov or 624-6676.