Special Education in Idaho
The Division of Special Education of the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE) oversees all policies regarding teaching special education in the state. The employment outlook for special education teachers in Idaho is not as promising as in the nearby states of California and Nevada. According to the U.S. Department of Education, students receiving special education services make up 10 percent of the total student population in Idaho, three percentage points below the national average. Because Idaho is a relatively sparsely-populated state, the public school system only employs about 870 special education teachers. According to Concordia University’s Idaho: Special Education (SPED) Outlook webpage, the U.S. Department of Education has ranked Idaho’s special education services as “Needing Intervention.”
Types of Teaching Certificates
- Initial Certificate/Credential for Idaho Graduates (the certificate pursued by new special education teachers)
- Initial Certificate/Credential for Interim Certificate Completers
- Postsecondary Specialist Certificate
- Interim Certificate/Credential for American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) Applicants
- Certificate/Credential for Professional-Technical Education
Special Education Teaching Programs in Idaho
Boise State University’s Department of Special Education and Early Childhood Studies offers several degree programs for individuals pursuing a career in special education. The Special Education-Elementary Education program and the Special Education-Subject Area Endorsement program are both undergraduate courses of study that result in special education teaching certification. The school also offers the Post-Baccalaureate Certification, a special education certification program for those who already have a bachelor’s degree. Students pursuing a master’s degree have two options, the Master of Arts in Special Education (for those more interested in research) and the Master of Education in Special Education (for those primarily interested in teaching). The small, very green city of Pocatello is the site of Idaho State University. Its Department of School Psychology, Literacy, & Special Education offers several graduate programs for individuals interested in special education: the Education Specialist in Special Education, the Master of Education in Human Exceptionality (with an option to emphasize Special Education) and the Master of Education in Deaf Education.
For profiles of all the schools in Idaho that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Idaho requires all teachers working in public school special education settings to be Highly Qualified Teachers (HQTs). However, if a candidate does not hold the appropriate special education teaching credential, the SDE offers alternative methods for gaining approval to teach in Idaho’s public school classrooms. According to the SDE’s Alternative Routes to Teaching guidelines, an employer in select school districts can request an emergency authorization to hire an uncertified teacher while that teacher completes the requirements for certification. The SDE grants several types of alternative authorizations depending upon the position and situation.
Working in Special Education in Idaho
- Idaho Virtual Academy hires certified special educators to work with its online student body.
- Serving special education students in southwest Idaho, the Canyon-Owyhee School Service Agency (COSSA) is a public school cooperative that offers a full range of services and programs. An application for a certified position is available a thttp://www.cossaschools.org/CertifiedApp.pdf.
The SDE’s Special Education Division funds the Idaho Training Clearinghouse (ITC), which lists training programs, hosts webinars and provides resources for general educators and those working with special needs populations. Teachers can also take part in for-credit professional development opportunities through the ITC. Idaho State University’s College of Education offers ongoing professional development courses for school districts and, at times, preservice teachers at the undergraduate level. The Web page for the Intermountain Center For Education Effectiveness links to upcoming classes and registration requirements.
Idaho Professional Groups for Special Education Teachers
- The Idaho Education Association (IEA) is the Idaho affiliate of the National Education Association. Its members include current educators as well as retired teachers and teachers in training. Membership is voluntary.
- The Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities (ICDD) advocates with and on behalf of those with developmental disabilities in Idaho.
Idaho Special Education Bloggers
- DisAbility Rights Idaho Blog:The DisAbility Rights advocacy group contributes to this blog about issues, news, controversies and policies concerning people with disabilities in Idaho.
- The EDge: Kevin Richert maintains this blog about policies and news affecting general and special education in Idaho communities.
- Idaho Education News: The official blog of the SDE covers education policy and programs in Idaho and beyond.