Special Education in Hawaii
The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) and its Department of Special Education oversee educational services to Hawaii’s student population. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 11 percent of Hawaii’s students hold Individualized Education Programs, lower than the United States average of 13 percent. In its rankings of quality and effectiveness of special education programs, the U.S. Department of Education gave Hawaii its highest rating of “Meets Requirements.” Hawaii is unique in that it has only one public school district, which contains 291 public and 31 charter schools. There are also 128 private schools in the state. The DOE employs 1,851 teachers to staff its special education programs.
Types of Licenses
- Category A: For educators who have graduated from a state-approved teacher education program (SATEP) and are seeking their first teaching license.
- Category B: For educators who have graduated from a SATEP and have a valid out-of-state teaching license.
- Category C: For educators who have a valid out-of-state license but did not graduate from a SATEP.
- Category D: For educators who have a valid teaching license and a National Board For Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Certificate.
- Category E: For educators with a valid out-of-state teaching license that has a Meritorious New Teacher Candidate (MNTC) designation.
- Category F: For educators who have completed a SATEP at a foreign institution and do not have a valid license from any state.
Consult the HTSB website for the requirements for each category. Hawaii also issues an Advanced License to educators who have graduate degrees in specialized areas of education.
Teacher Certification Programs in Hawaii
The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Department of Education, located in the vibrant city of Honolulu, provides four options for would-be special educators. The bachelor’s degree in education results in initial Hawaii licensure to qualify to teach in both elementary general education classrooms and inclusive special education classrooms. The Post Baccalaureate Certificate in special education allows students to choose between two areas of specialization: mild to moderate disabilities and severe disabilities/autism. The Master of Education in interdisciplinary special education is for individuals already licensed to teach special education who want to pursue an area of specialization. The Doctor of Philosophy in education with a specialization in exceptionalities is designed to prepare leaders in the field of special education, but does not qualify participants for state special education licensure.
For profiles of all the schools in Hawaii that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
- Hawaii awards an Emergency Hire Special Permit for educators who do not meet all licensing criteria but are assigned to work in a teacher shortage area, in a position for which a certified teacher could not be found.
- Teach for America places recent college graduates and career-changers in high-need classrooms after participants complete an intensive training and induction program.
Working in Special Education in Hawaii
- The DOE’s Office of Human Resources Personnel Development operates the Educating Hawaii’s Future website, which lists job openings and provides resources for educators. The DOE also maintains a list of Hawaii Public Schools and administers the Teaching in Hawaii Web page, which explains issues surrounding employment as a teacher in the state.
- The Charter School Administrative Office provides contact information for the state’s charter schools.
- The DOE’s Professional Development Support Unit (PDSU) administers Hawaii’s Professional Development Credit Program.
- Professional and paraprofessional special educators already employed in Hawaii public schools are eligible to apply for the DOE’s Professional Support Stipend, which funds professional development and academic university courses in education.
- The University of Hawaii at Manoa offers several professional development opportunities, including summer classes for working teachers, workshops and a secondary teacher mentorship program.
Professional Organizations for Hawaii Special Educators
- The state teacher’s union, the Hawaii State Teachers Association is an National Education Association affiliate, representing current public school staff, retired educators and students preparing to be teachers in Hawaii public schools.
- The Special Education Advisory Council is a federally-mandated organization that meets to analyze special education policy and advise the Superintendent of the Department of Education on its implementation in Hawaii educational institutions.
- School personnel, parents and community advocates comprise the membership of the Community Children’s Councils. Dispersed in 17 locations throughout Hawaii, these councils focus on communicating about and coordinating services to students with disabilities.
Special Education Blogs in Hawaii
- ADHD in Hawaii Blog: A mother’s personal blog chronicles her efforts to network with other parents and locate community resources for her son who has ADHD.
- SPIN News: The quarterly newsletter of Hawaii’s Special Parent Information Network is available in print and digital editions. Stories cover news, resources and tips for raising and educating children with disabilities.