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Online Preliminary Mild/Moderate Education Specialist Instruction Credential

The Online California Preliminary Education Specialist Credential program examines cross-cultural educational issues in order to determine instructional and assessment strategies that enhance learning of students with mild and moderate disabilities.

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37 units of coursework and fieldwork

Guided by CCTC standards

Qualifies to teach students moderate disabilities

Through this postgraduate teaching credential program, graduates will be able to develop and implement programs that assess, plan, and provide instruction to support students with mild/moderate disabilities. Students in the online Preliminary Education Specialist Credential program will learn to communicate, collaborate and consult effectively with individuals with disabilities and their parents, general/special education teachers, related service personnel, and administrators .

Other Credentials and Continuing Learning Programs

  • B.A. Early Childhood Education: Preliminary Multiple Subject Credential
  • B.A. Early Childhood Education: Dual Credential
  • M.A. Education: Preliminary Education Specialist Credential
  • M.A. Education: Preliminary Multiple Subject Credential
  • Preliminary Multiple Subject Credential
  • Transitional Kindergarten (TK)

Sample Courses


SPED 562: Studies of Assessment in Special Education and Transition Planning

SPED 562 will cover formal and non-formal evaluation methods to assess students with Mild to Moderate disabilities that include standardized Formal Assessment, informal assessment, alternative assessment, and case studies. Also, there will be a focus on the importance of the individual evaluation for referral, ongoing IEP and ITP development, classroom environment, individualizing assessment and instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners.  Laws pertaining to Special Education will be included to ensure ethical practices and due process which include Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). 

SPED 542: Behavior Assessments, Interventions, and Positive Support Methods

SPED 542 will explore the relationship between teacher behavior, academic tasks, and classroom environment in encouraging and discouraging student self-esteem, behavior, and achievement. Various models of behavior management will be discussed from a social systems perspective, including: psycho-dynamic, behavioral, environmental, and constructivist. Classroom behaviors will be analyzed in relation to antecedents and consequences of target behaviors as highlighted by a case study approach. Candidates will develop skills in designing whole class management systems, as well as individualized behavior programs (positive behavior support plans), collecting data on target behaviors, identifying of replacement behaviors with specific behavioral goals and objectives, and implementing appropriate reinforcement strategies.

Sample Program Sequence



The California Preliminary Education Specialist Credential (mild to moderate disabilities) qualifies candidates to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings and adults through age 22. This credential is a two-tiered process; information on completing the second level is available through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC).

Admission Requirements

  • Completed Application for Admission
  • Application Fee
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Official Transcripts from the Bachelor’s Degree Granting Institution
  • Official CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) scores
  • Letter of Recommendation required for students whose cumulative GPA is below 2.5
  • Demonstrated commitment to the mission and values of Pacific Oaks College
  • Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher except in professional education from a regionally accredited institution
  • *Passing the CBEST exam is an admissions expectation. However, applicants in the M.A. Education with Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, M.A. Education with Preliminary Education Specialist Credential, Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, or Preliminary Education Specialist Credential programs will be granted admission for 1 semester or 2 sessions if they have scheduled their CBEST exam at the time of application. Students without passing CBEST scores at the time of admission must participate in the CBEST workshop and support programs provided by the College. These students must pass the CBEST exam within 1 semester or 2 sessions to be allowed to progress in the program. Students who fail to pass the CBEST within this timeframe will be given the opportunity to change to the M.A. Human Development program, but must meet all admissions requirements for that program. Students who do not wish to change programs will be withdrawn. Students must request results of the exam be sent to Pacific Oaks College. The CBEST exam can be taken multiple times by the student, with a 45-day waiting period after each exam.