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Catawba College Offering Special Education Major

March 26, 2012

Category: Academics, Teacher Education

PhotoThe N.C. State Board of Education has granted final approval of Catawba College's Special Education Licensure Program. While special education teachers work with children and youth who have a variety of disabilities, Catawba's licensure program will prepare teachers to work with students with mild to moderate learning challenges.

The number of students requiring special education services has grown in recent years because of improvements that have allowed learning disabilities to be diagnosed at earlier ages.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts "faster than average" growth in special education jobs, with the number of special education teachers expected to rise 17 percent between 2008 and 2018.

According to a recent article in "The Boston Globe," teaching waivers in Massachusetts increased in recent years. These teaching waivers allowed school districts to hire teachers who are not formally licensed for particular subjects or specialties due to difficulty in finding qualified candidates. It was noted that Massachusetts' school districts were unable to hire licensed teachers of students with disabilities or other special needs.

Catawba's new licensure program may also prove to be of particular benefit to the Rowan-Salisbury School System that employs about 160 exceptional children's teachers throughout the system. According to Dr. Crystal Vail, Rowan-Salisbury's director of the department of exceptional children, the system is experiencing more difficulty in filling the five to eight vacancies created each year by retirements and resignations. In addition, Vail noted, around 10 percent of the system's exceptional children's teacher assistants want to seek certification in special education.

Catawba made application for the special education licensure program to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction last fall. Today, this new special education licensure program has 16 students already enrolled.

Catawba College students who choose to major in special education can select one of five concentrations offered:  1) elementary; 2) middle & high school language arts; 3) middle & high school mathematics; 4) middle & high school science; or 5) middle & high school social studies.

Dr. Lyn Boulter, a professor of psychology and special education program coordinator at Catawba, says candidates seeking licensure as special education teachers will obtain a major in special education and pursue a concentration in either elementary or middle/secondary education, complete a semester-long student teaching experience, and develop a professional portfolio.

A Catawba student majoring in special education will have the opportunity to pursue dual licensure (special education with an elementary concentration as well as a major in elementary education; special education with a middle and high school concentration as well as a major in the comparable middle grades specialization or secondary subject area). Dual licensure will require additional coursework and students interested in pursuing dual licensure are encouraged to talk with a member of the Department of Teacher Education for additional information.


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