RATIONALE FOR CERTIFICATION
It has been estimated that 10-15 percent of the U.S. student population receive special education services.
· A significant number of learning disabilities are not properly assessed or are going
unidentified, thus special education services are not provided appropriately.
· Despite intelligence levels adequate to go to college, students with un- or inappropriately
identified learning disabilities drop out of school, barely pass, and have lower paying unskilled
· Children with learning disabilities are often segregated unnecessarily from non disabled peers
and this denies them the opportunity to develop the social skills they need.
· Segregated special education classes are often not as rigorous academically, and do not
have as many resources as regular education classes.
· Non-disabled peers are denied the opportunity to learn about and from disabled peers,
perpetuating disabled stereotypes.
· Unaddressed leaning disabilities lead to behavioral problems that mask the initial disability.
· 50-78% of juveniles incarcerated have learning disabilities.
· Children with unaddressed learning disabilities often self medicate with alcohol and drugs.
· 60% of people recovering from addictions have some form of a learning disability.
Education advocacy has a long history, and in recent years it has become apparent that education advocacy expertise is not ensured by traditional education advocacy training programs or by advocacy training under the direction of other related professions. To create a professional support, networking, and advocacy system and to develop national standards for certification within the education advocacy specialty, the National Special Education Advocacy Institute, NSEAI, was formed.
To address this vast field of professional education advocacy, well trained parents, educators, lawyers, behavior specialists, clinicians: occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, physical therapists, nurses, clinical psychologists, school psychologists, neuro-psychologists, physicians, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, recreational specialists, and many others have collaborated to form the nationally board certified education advocate program. Many disciplines have come together to address the education advocacy needs of individuals, while maintaining each discipline’s own standards.
PURPOSE OF CERTIFICATION
1 To develop and coordinate a system of evaluation and certification for Education Advocates.
This requires professional standards of competence, knowledge, and skill from those who are board certified.
2 To promote and advance the profession of education advocacy to lead to the establishment of a professional code of ethics and adoption of standards of competence, to ensure the highest standard of service for those with special education needs, and to promote continuous quality improvement in the education of those in need of special education services.
3 To promote, support, and evaluate comprehensive training and education programs designed to increase the competence and capabilities of Education Advocates.
4 To offer professional consultation and education related to the advancement of Education Advocates board certification, and to cooperate and collaborate with other interested persons and organizations in pursuit of this purpose.
GOALS OF CERTIFICATION
NSEAI is composed of education advocates from various academic and experiential backgrounds who have the unique combination of skills effective in improving student's educational outcomes and providing education advocacy consultant services. Within the discipline of education advocacy, this diverse group has come together to establish a standard through board certification that enhances the education and experience level of education advocates providing quality services.
The BCEA credential is an advanced standing certificate: each requires previous work experience in education advocacy before admission to candidacy. Only those who have been board certified by the National Special Education Advocacy Institute, NSEAI, may use the title Board Certified Education Advocate, designated by the appellation or designation of "BCEA" or the title “Nationally Board Certified Education Advocate”.
To be competent in performing all of the many professional functions of an education advocate, and to keep pace with the growing complex variety of practice modalities, activities, and functions required in the field of education advocacy. The education advocate must possess a deep and broad range of knowledge that covers training in the education, legal, behavior and clinical areas. It is very apparent that expertise in the education advocacy field is not ensured by the variety of traditional eclectic education programs available. Nor is it guaranteed by independent education and practice in the field. The recognized role and function of the education advocate have evolved out of self-education, experimentation, trial and error, self-motivation, intuition, and the desire to gain an expertise in understanding and addressing the unique and often complex educational needs of individuals receiving special education.
Education advocates come from a variety of backgrounds, educators, parents of children with disabilities and some with varied experience in the field. For this reason, board certification from NSEAI is based upon educational advocacy competency rather than just academic or professional background. Competency is demonstrated through completion of the board certification education program and the testing process.
Certification has been established nationally by NSEAI to achieve these goals:
• To increase the effectiveness of education advocacy services rendered.
• To provide a method whereby professional standards can be established, maintained, and
continually updated through a system of competency-based testing and professional
development hours required for certification and certification renewal.
• To expand public recognition of the education advocacy needs of individuals with special
education needs and of the value of the BCEA in meeting those needs as a member of the
• To encourage the BCEA to grow in knowledge in the specialty area of education advocacy.
• To enhance the skills and competence of the BCEA.