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Washington, D.C. Special Education
With a rating of “Needs Intervention,” for its special education services from the U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. ranks lower than most states in the region and the nation. However, the need for these services is high: The Institute of Education Studies reports that the District of Columbia has one of the highest percentages of students with Individualized Education Programs in the country, at 16.8 percent, nearly four percentage points higher than the national average of 13 percent. There is one public school district in D.C., containing 238 public, 99 charter and 87 private schools. D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and its Division of Special Education determine and implement policy regarding the city’s special education services.
Types of Licenses
- The one-year Transitional License in non-renewable and is granted to an individual who is currently ineligible for a Regular I or II license, but is hired by a D.C. local education agency to teach in a high-need area in which that individual has a degree or can demonstrate mastery.
- The Regular I License is the typical option for new teachers who have a bachelor’s degree, are enrolled in approved teacher preparation programs and have passed OSSE-mandated pedagogical and subject mastery exams. Candidates for this license must provide proof of current employment as a teacher in a local education agency.
- The four-year Regular II License is for educators who have completed certification programs, fieldwork and mandated exams.
Special Education Teaching Programs in Washington, D.C.
D.C.’s sole public institution of higher education is University of the District of Columbia. Its National Center for Urban Education offers several degrees and certificates, among them a master’s degree in special education. The School of Education, Teaching, and Health (SETH) at American University gives students the option of pursing an undergraduate minor in special education, as well as a master’s degree in special education with a focus on learning disabilities. In addition, the school offers a dual degree special education program that results in a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.
For profiles of all the schools in D.C. that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
There are a few alternative routes to educator licensure in Washington, D.C. For example, candidates can apply for licensure based on their experience or take part an alternative training program. The DC Teaching Fellows program places experienced professionals and recent college graduates in Washington’s highest-need schools and subject areas. Participants take part in intensive pre-service training and complete certification coursework through the TNTP Academy while working as teachers. Teach for America also serves D.C. public schools by placing corps members in high-need areas.
Teaching Special Education in Washington, D.C.
- General and special education teaching theory and practice are the focus areas of the professional development courses at Trinity Washington University’s Office of Continuing Education.
- The D.C. Special Education Co-operative supports charter schools and members with webinars and trainings in implementing effective special education teaching practices.
- The Washington Teachers’ Union’s Teachers’ Center offers a wide range of courses for educators, as well as free resources on its website.
Washington, D.C. Special Ed Teacher Professional Organizations
- The district union, the Washington Teacher’s Union, represents current and retired public educators.
- The District of Columbia’s State Advisory Panel (SAP) on Special Education is a federally-mandated council of agency representatives and community stakeholders who meet regularly to interpret policy as it applies to serving students with special needs.
- The OSSE’s Division of Special Education schedules Special Education Local Education Agency (LEA) Quarterly Meetings to address fiscal issues, programs and data systems related to meeting the needs of students with disabilities.
D.C. Special Education Blogs
- Teacher SOL: The winner of multiple educational blogger awards, Maria Angala is an exceptional needs specialist in D.C. who writes about advocacy and methods for inspiring students in the classroom.
- Mrs. V’s Special Education Classroom: Part blog, part local resource directory, this site keeps families and educators in the special education community informed about services and events.
- SOE News: The e-newsfeed for American University’s education department features items impacting regional and national education.