Writing in Special Education

The Education Specialist Credential prepares candidates to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in self-contained special education and general education classrooms. Given this responsibility, the ability to write effectively is very important. We expect our incoming students to bring with them the ability to write clearly and concisely on demand; to use correct grammar, syntax, and standard writing conventions; to be able to revise and edit their own writing; and to possess computer literacy with common programs like Word, CI Learn, and so on.

Through coursework we will help you develop specific writing skills, so that by the time you graduate from the program, you should be able to do the following:

  • Write a clear report
  • Clearly portray educational information about students
  • Write goals for Individual Educational Plans
  • Write clear benchmarks
  • Write lesson plans
  • Use reflective practices associated with writing
  • Write clear, factual communications to multiple audiences—parents, instructional assistants, administrators, mental health, probation and related service providers
  • Write a variety of products such as legally sound reports, journal entries, notices to parents
  • Be knowledgeable about assistive technologies

Types of Writing

In the Special Education Program, you should expect to use writing in numerous ways, including the following:

  • Classroom environment analysis
  • Functional behavioral analysis assessment report
  • Behavioral support plan
  • Individual educational plans
  • Lesson Planning
  • Journals/blogs
  • Research papers
  • Letters to parents
  • Case conference reports
  • Portfolios
  • Literature reviews

Recommended Practices

In order to succeed at the writing tasks above, students are recommended to use the following practices, where appropriate:

  • Draft and complete reviews of literature
  • Read and use California Standards for reports and plans
  • Connect all reading to writing
  • Use graphic organizers
  • Use available technology support
  • Use brainstorming strategies
  • Review work of peers


Students in the Special Education program will typically use the American Psychological Association Format (APA). We suggest that students use the following to help them cite properly: Hacker, D. ( 2007). A writer’s reference with extra help for ESL writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Students who need additional help can visit The Purdue Online Writing Lab and look at their APA resource page. Students are also recommended to use peer review to help them identify errors in citations.


To become more proficient at writing, you may wish to do the following, as needed:

  • Get writing assistance prior to the credential program
  • Consult sample reports on line
  • Use the University Writing and Multiliteracy Center's online or in-person tutoring for general writing help or the Graduate Writing Studio for larger writing projects such as PACT.
  • Utilize Atomic Learning on Blackboard
  • Learn to summarize
  • Use Google Docs to collaborate with others while writing