Colorado Special Education
According to the Education Week, Colorado meets federal requirements for reaching “measurable and rigorous” targets for special education students as of the 2010/2011 school year. The Ed.gov website indicates that 10 percent of Colorado’s students have been identified as having disabilities, significantly below the national average of 13 percent. The Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) Exceptional Student Services Unit maintains three offices, the Office of Special Education, the Office of Gifted Education and the Office of Facility Schools. The Office of Special Education is the primary resource for educators who want to work in or currently work in Colorado public schools. According to Concordia University, the state employs about 4,800 special education teachers to serve 179 districts.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Teaching Degrees
The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado is located in the very green town of Greeley, which was named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. The education department offers a diverse array of degree programs in the area of special education including the Special Education Generalist bachelor’s degree program, which provides the coursework necessary to apply for a state license to teach in a special education setting. Many special education master’s degree programs are offered at the University of Colorado as well. The graduate-level Special Education Generalist course of study results in a master’s degree as well as eligibility for a teaching license with a Special Education Generalist endorsement, while the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Specialist, Visual Impairment Specialist, Gifted and Talented Specialist and Early Childhood Special Education Specialist programs give students the academic experience and fieldwork necessary to work with more specific special needs populations. The Intervention Specialist master’s degree is for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in special education who want to refine their skills and work in leadership positions. Students who already have a master’s degree but seek coursework qualifying them to work as special education administrators can opt for the non-degree Special Education Administration program. The school also offers a doctorate in special education that combines on-campus and online coursework. The Denver branch of the University of Northern Colorado offers a special program directed toward would-be teachers dedicated to working in urban schools: the Special Education Generalist program, offered by the university’s Center for Urban Education. Participants earn a bachelor’s degree while taking courses to qualify for a Colorado K-12 Special Education Generalist license. They also serve as apprentices to teachers in Denver metro area classrooms while being mentored by a special education master teacher.
For profiles of all the schools in Colorado that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Licensure
Students currently enrolled in Colorado teacher preparation programs emphasizing special education may be eligible for Special Education Temporary Authorization (SETA). The CDE awards this status to qualified individuals who show continued progress toward earning their licenses or endorsements. For more information, consult the CDE’s Educator Licensing Authorization Applications guidelines. The Temporary Teacher Eligibility (TTE) program allows qualified special service providers to work in special education settings while becoming licensed to teach with an endorsement in special education. The CDE also operates the Special Educator Eligibility (SEE) program for individuals who have a general teaching license but have yet to earn their special education endorsement. Both of these programs require that participants already have a position working with students with special needs in a Colorado public school. For more information visit http://www.unco.edu/cebs/sped/current/earlychildhood/pdf/TTE_SEE_FAQ_081810.pdf.
Special Education Jobs
- The CDE offers a range of professional development opportunities and a directory of resources, both of which are listed on the Educator Effectiveness section of the organization’s website.
- The College of Education at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) offers a variety of professional development services. Its faculty provides coaching, mentoring, community outreach services, consultation, lesson study and reflective supervision.
Professional Groups for Colorado Special Education Teachers
- The state teacher’s union, the Colorado Education Association, is open to public school teachers, administrators and support staff, public university employees, retired public educators and college students enrolled in teacher preparation programs. It is a state affiliation of the National Education Association (NEA).
- The Colorado Special Education Advisory Committee interprets special education policy. Special educators, individuals with disabilities, parents, administrators and special education agency representatives comprise its membership.
Special Education Bloggers from Colorado
- Toad-ally Exceptional Learners: Curriculum, teaching strategies and behavior management are the topics here, from the perspective of a resource room teacher in an urban Colorado district.
- EdNews Colorado: This Colorado website covers education policy at a national level and schools news and features at a state level.