Special Education in Arizona
Arizona has identified 12 percent of its student population as having special needs, which is one percentage point lower than the national average, according to Ed.gov’s Arizona State Snapshot. This state also has more restrictive certification requirements than the neighboring state of California. These two factors make finding a special education career in Arizona slightly more challenging for would-be and new teachers.
Special Education Teaching Degrees
There are nine schools in Arizona that offer special education teaching programs. One of the larger schools is the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. Its Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College offers a program that awards a master’s degree in education while also providing cross-categorical certification in special education for grades K-12. This designation covers intellectual disabilities, mild learning, emotional, behavioral and orthopedic disabilities and other health impairments. Students in the Educational Specialties Department at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff can earn a master’s degree in special education that results in certification or one of two graduate certificates in autism spectrum disorders or in culturally and linguistically diverse special education. Students can also opt for a master’s degree in special education without seeking certification or pursue a Bachelor of Education in elementary and special education. Maricopa Community Colleges offers an Associate in Arts in Elementary Education (AAEE) that prepares an undergraduate to transfer to an Arizona public university to major in education. Pima Community College offers a special education K-12 certification post-degree certificate. The program accepts students without teaching certificates, as well as those who possess elementary, secondary or special education teacher certification. Required courses vary depending upon current certification status.
For information on master’s in special education programs in Arizona, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
The ADE’s Alternative Pathways to Teacher Certification webpage notes that a Teaching Intern certificate is available for individuals who wish to work in a state public or charter school. After demonstrating subject knowledge by taking one of several exams, a candidate can teach full-time while pursuing full certification. Several Arizona universities participate in preparing teaching interns to work in the classroom and to eventually fulfill the requirements of a special education teaching credential.
Special Education Jobs
- The Arizona Centers for Comprehensive Education and Life Skills runs several special education programs, including two day programs located in Phoenix and Tempe. ACCEL also runs satellite classroom programs on Arizona school district campuses.
- The Arizona Special Education Schools page on Private Schools Review summarizes schools by location, number of students and grade levels. The larger programs include The ACES in Peoria, ACCEL in Phoenix, New Way Academy in Scottsdale and Academic Behavioral Alternatives and The ACES-East, both in Tempe.
- The ADE’s Arizona State Board Approved Programs webpage summarizes the programs and trainings that qualify as professional development in Arizona public and charter schools. This organization’s Professional Learning and Sustainability (PLS) Unit offers professional development sessions, workshops and resources for special education personnel.
- Educational Training Specialists provides coaching, training, mentoring, consulting and staff development for Arizona teachers, with an emphasis on Sheltered English Immersion.
Professional Groups for Special Education Teachers in Arizona
- The Arizona Education Association (AEA), the state teachers’ union, provides information about issues and advocates for Arizona public schools, seeking to improve the quality of public education and the professional lives of teachers and school staff members. Membership in AEA is voluntary; over 30,000 educators are part of this organization, making it the largest professional organization in the state.
- Special education professionals are among the individuals who can serve on the Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP), a statewide panel that provides special education policy guidance in Arizona.
Arizona Special Education Bloggers
- SPED Teacher L84 Baseball: Book reviews, special education teaching tips, curriculum ideas and daily life are the topics of this personal blog by Arizona special education teacher Jenn Adams.
- Resource Room Rules: Twenty years of special education teaching experience inform this blog about life in a K-5 resource room.