Georgia Special Education
While the National Center for Education Statistics reports that the percent of students in Georgia with Individualized Education programs is relatively low (10.6 percent, compared to the national average of 13 percent), the U.S. Department of Education rates the state’s ability to meet this population’s needs as “Needs Intervention,” one of its lowest rankings. Due to high population density in urban and suburban areas, Georgia employs nearly 16,700 special education teachers working in 2,607 public schools and 63 charter schools that are organized into 180 districts. Georgia is also home to 581 private schools, many of which employ special education teachers. The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) oversees public education throughout the state; its Division for Special Education Services and Supports supports school districts in providing services to students with disabilities.
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GPSC) oversees all GaDOE regulations regarding teacher licensing in the state.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Degrees in Georgia
Students at the John H. Lounsbury College of Education at Georgia College in Milledgeville form cohorts and pursue GPSC-required courses and fieldwork in special education and general education. This school has one of the few state programs that awards a teaching certificate concurrently with a bachelor’s degree in special education. In addition, it offers several certification programs for people who already hold bachelor’s degrees, as well as for those who want to refine or upgrade their current teaching licenses to include special education. Students can also opt for a Master of Education in special education general curriculum, a Master of Arts in Teaching in special education or a Specialist in Education in special education, all offered at the university’s Macon Graduate Center. Urban research is the focus of Georgia State University, which is located in downtown Atlanta. Its College of Education administrates a Georgia teacher certification program in behavior and learning disabilities, as well as a certification program in multiple and severe disabilities that allows students to concentrate in autism, deaf education, early childhood special education, intellectual disabilities or physical and health disabilities. The university also offers master’s degrees in these same areas of specialization and a doctorate in education of students with exceptionalities.
For profiles of all the schools in Georgia that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
Mid-career professionals or individuals with relevant academic backgrounds and field experience can qualify for one of the GPSC’s alternative routes to certification. These candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree approved by the GPSC; then, they must pass subject matter and pedagogy exams or pass a basic skills assessment and have an offer to work in a special education classroom. In both scenarios, candidates receive a Non-Renewable Non-Professional certificate and must comply with additional GPSC criteria during the life of the certificate. The GPSC also administrates the Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTAPP). Subcategories of this program include the Intern Certificate (for career-changers who hold a college degree but not a teaching credential), the One Year Supervised Practicum (for candidates with relevant experience outside of public school teaching), the Core Academic Path (for people with relevant degrees who demonstrate content mastery and pedagogical skills) and the Advanced Degree Alternative Certificate (for individuals pursuing a three-year professional development plan).
Special Education Teaching Jobs in Georgia
- The GaDOE’s professional learning guide outlines the state’s requirements and goals for professional development units; this organization also maintains a list of approved professional learning unit credit courses.
- The Georgia Project for Assistive Technology supports school districts and special education teachers in providing assistive technology resources and offers training in using them.
Georgia Professional Organizations for Special Educators
- The state teacher’s union, the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), supports current and retired public school employees at all levels.
- The GaDOE’s State Advisory Panel consists of individuals with disabilities and their parents, educators, administrators and others who advise the GaDOE regarding special education policies and practices.
- The Georgia branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness advocates on behalf of Georgians impacted by mental illness. This organization participates in educational initiatives, support groups and other projects.
Georgia Special Education Bloggers
- Division for Special Education Services and Supports Friday Email Blast: This weekly email blast from the GaDOE is packed with information regarding rules, resources, professional learning opportunities and events pertaining to special education services.
- Special Education Newsletter: The Division for Special Education Services and Supports’ quarterly newsletter provides tips and information about best practices and current research in special education.