NSEAI, in order to encourage independent study and recognize personal knowledge and mastery of subject matter and topics, provides students, who have previously:

• been enrolled in equivalent courses

•shown evidence of advanced knowledge, and

•have had extensive experience in the field

the opportunity to demonstrate academic and practicum competency.  The Board recognizes that you may have covered some components of the required content areas through previous educational coursework not taken through a NSEAI Program.  The Board will consider granting credit towards the education coursework and practicum requirements for BCEA certification if:

1. The potential BCEA candidate shows evidence of advanced core knowledge by successfully passing the challenge examinations and project requirements.

•  A The BCEA candidate will be exempt from courses and their requirements if they pass the examinations.

• The exams are similar to final exams or projects as if attending the courses.


2. The student must offer evidence of a satisfactory command of the subject matter by passing all examinations and satisfactory completion of the midterm project. The granting of the 12 course credit is based on the following conditions:

•  A $1200 fee ($100 vs $195) per course for a comprehensive 12 course exam)

•  A satisfactory grade of 70% or higher per each of the 12 parts of the challenge exam.

• Successful completion of the midterm exam/project.($100.00)

3. The candidate will show evidence of the experience requirement at a Diplomat or Fellow level, by portfolio method.

• Candidate will demonstrate life experience which suggests mastery of the 12 courses and develop a successful portfolio demonstrating this mastery to challenge the practicum component of the BCEA requirements.

• Credit is granted for field experience, practical, or internship work. This portfolio (submission fee $200) will be evaluated by a two person, faculty committee.

It is important to note that a student challenging by examination must demonstrate the same learning outcomes as a student who passes the courses in the traditional NSEAI academic setting.

The comprehensive examinations are given at the convenience of the Director or Clinical Director.  The examination coordinator will submit course numbers and names of courses approved as challenged successfully to the Curriculum Committee for BCEA application approval.



Participation in the Challenge Exam Program is not automatically given. It is at the discretion of the Clinical Director and Director(s) and contingent upon the following limitations:

  1. The student must offer evidence of sufficient background to apply at the Fellow or Diplomat level of certification through the BCEA ($100) application process.

  2. The board certification application process is the responsibility of the student and must be successfully completed at least one month before the date of the exam.

  3. The student has previously taken the challenge exam, the student may not retake this exam for NSEAI credit.

  4. A student cannot use this exam to pass a course for which the student has failed previously.

  5. A student on probation, or who is suspended, may not take an exam for credit

  6. A nonrefundable fee of $100 per course exam will be prepaid for all 12 courses to take the comprehensive exam.

  7. The test date(s), will be determined by the Director.

  8. A “no show” student forfeits all fees. There are no refunds.

  9. Notification to students of time and webinar access keys to the exam, and other arrangements will be made after successful submission of the BCEA application and fee.

  10. Students who fail any of the 12 course exams must take the course failed, and pass the exam, to qualify for the education credit needed to satisfy BCEA application requirements.

  11. The Challenge Exam may be taken twice before being required to take any failed course classes.

  12. The Director will notify the student of the exam and application results.

  13. Any modifications to the above process may be determined and approved by the Clinical Director or Directors.


The online application fee for the exam is $1200. The exam is available, by appointment, only after registration acceptance.



• First, submit a completed BCEA application, and the challenge exam fee with a cover letter requesting a Challenge Exam.

• The application includes your academic transcript and verification of fieldwork paperwork. You will then receive an Authorization To Test Letter, once your eligibility is verified.

• You then schedule your exam directly with NSEAI.

• There are approximately 300 questions in 12 sub-topic exams with 20-25 True or False or multiple choice questions on  each exam.

• Candidates have 8 hours to take the exam.

• Candidates can take breaks, but the exam clock will continue to run.

• The Exam is an open book exam.

• You can view your unofficial pass/fail status online on your scoring date.

• You will receive an official score report via mail 4-8 weeks after taking the examination.



• Up to any two sections of the test failed may be scheduled for $195 per section.

• Independent study materials will be sent to the candidate, prior to rescheduling another challenge exam for the sections failed. The candidate must pass all 12 sections of the exam before you can apply as a BCEA.

• After you pass all 12 sections of the BCEA exam you must pay the $100 BCEA application. An eligible candidate can retake any one exam of the 12 exams up to 2 times before having to take the course either in person or via webinar.


Peer reviewed articles were used to create the exams. NSEAI maintains a list of texts and peer- reviewed journals, updated periodically, for reference by exam.  The curriculum is developed from the list of Peer-Reviewed Articles and reports.  These items as well as lists of texts and peer-reviewed journals are recommended to review for 50% percent of the content in the nationally recognized NSEAI Board Certified Special Education Advocacy program.


Pre- and post-tests are used to document the quality of the NSEAI program, measure outcomes, and to demonstrate success. These exams gave us useful professional impact data for progress reports and acted as an accurate measure, providing real-time feedback related to program quality.  This information helps our curriculum committee to decide whether or not to make changes in the development and implementation of curriculum and related activities. 



• 90% of all groups (professional advocates, lawyers, clinicians, educators and parents) passed their 12 post examinations and Midterm project.  This was evidence of a significant overall improvement of knowledge and expertise in the advocacy population.



Out of 473 pre-examinations, taken by professional advocates, the following percentages passed the pretests:

• 23% of the 473 participants passed the pretests. 

• 20% passed of the 100 that had little training (< 30 hours and considered self taught) passed the pre-tests. 

• 20% passed of the 290 that had moderate training (31-59 hours of local or state wide training) passed the pre-tests. 

• 35% passed of the 83 professional special education advocates with formal national training (>60 hours, averaging 100 hours) passed the pre-tests.  


473 BCEA candidate’s average pre and post tests grades increased from:

• 63% (below passing) in their pre tests to 85% in their post-tests,

• A pre to post test score improvement occurred with a statistically significant 26% increase in knowledge of extensive and complex educational advocacy professional continuing education.

• Even the highly experienced advocates improved their grades from an average of 68% in their pre tests to an average of 87% in their post-tests.  This shows a 22% improvement. It should be noted that this improvement occurred in a population of very active professional advocates.



Challenge Exam                     $1200.00

Midterm Project                       $100.00

Pre Exam Practicum

Portfolio Submission                 $200.00


The exams were only one part of an assessment plan of knowledge associated with this profession and discipline specific curriculum.  Exam assessments provided useful projections of participant behavior, learning within this field of study, ability to analyze, solve problems, understand relationships, and interpret material.  The results enabled NSEAI to monitor participant progression and learning throughout prescribed periods of time and help determine where significant skills and knowledge deficiencies exist so that curriculum can be improved.  Participant and alumni surveys, as well as exit interviews, were another important tool that was used.


The NSEAI exam assessment demonstrated the extreme need to develop a minimum professional educational standard within the profession of Educational Advocacy and the need for minimum education consistency to protect the public and the children we serve. This also demonstrated that training of professional advocates by mixed professional groups (not education advocates) had not lead historically to acceptable minimum professional advocacy standards.



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