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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Education and Human Services is responding to a growing need for special education teachers in Wisconsin and beyond by launching two new programs for those seeking to re-specialize, add a license or find an alternative route to licensing.

Special Education Department Chair Stacey Skonig said UWO is ready to accept students into the new programs.

“Cross-categorical special education is the highest-need licensure area in Wisconsin. To meet the state’s significant K-12 staffing need, we have developed these programs specifically for emergency licensed special education teachers and others with bachelor’s degrees seeking a faster route to licensure,” Skoning said.

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, intellectual, emotional and physical disabilities. These teachers use or modify the general education curriculum to meet the child’s individual needs, which are defined by their Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the overall employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 3% from 2018 to 2028 with the demand driven by school enrollments and the need for special education services.

With some 14% of students in public schools having disabilities according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the call for more special education teachers has increased.

Benson Gardner, the communications officer for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, said that it isn’t just a state or regional issue; districts across the country are having a hard time finding enough fully licensed teachers.

“The Wisconsin Education Career Access Network (WECAN) currently lists 124 special education teacher openings. Last year, we issued 952 one-year licenses with stipulations (i.e., emergency licenses) in special education,” Gardner said.

UWO’s new programs will provide teachers with full licensure while maintaining the rigor of traditional programs by using a personalized approach, curriculum compacting and the design of  the fully online program.

  • Career Pathways is designed for students who have earned an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in early childhood education from any Wisconsin technical college. This program creates a clear path to state licensure in both early childhood education and early childhood special education by leveraging previously earned credits.
  • K-12 Special Education Accelerated Licensure Program is an online program that provides individuals hired on TIER I licensures and others who have bachelor’s degrees with the professional skills and knowledge to educate and empower all students with disabilities and their families. The added benefit is the credits earned in the licensure program also may be applied to the UW Oshkosh special education master’s degree program.

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