Special Education in Indiana
Indiana has one of the nation’s highest percentages of students with disabilities, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. With 15.8 percent of students possessing Individualized Education Programs, the proportion of students in Indiana who have identified disabilities is nearly three percentage points above the national average of 13 percent. Education Week reported that the U.S. Department of Education ranked the state’s ability to serve its students with special needs as “Needs Assistance.” The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and its Office of Special Education oversee policy pertaining to Indiana’s over 1,850 special education teachers, who serve 1,989 public schools and 53 charter schools in 294 districts.
Indiana Licensure for Educators
Special Education Teaching Programs in Indiana
The flagship campus of the Indiana University system, also its largest, is located in Bloomington. Considered one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, the tree-filled area features buildings constructed of distinctive Indiana limestone. Undergraduate special education degrees offered by the Indiana University Bloomington Education Department include the Elementary: Teaching All Learners: Exceptional Needs and Elementary Education program and the Secondary Special Education program. The graduate program in Special Education at Indiana University Bloomington ranks in the top 15 in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. The Special Education for Indiana Schools Today (SPEDFIST) track combines on-campus classes, online instruction and fieldwork with a mentor. The doctorate option prepares candidates for research, teaching in secondary special education classrooms, supervising special educators, serving as directors of secondary education or curriculum, acting as departmental chairpersons or working as principals. Students can also select a non-degree course of study to complete professional development units or qualify for an Initial License or a Special Education Mild/Moderate Intervention License. The diverse city of Indianapolis provides an ideal backdrop for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and its School of Education, which focuses on teaching in urban settings. The university offers accelerated and alternative licensure programs to qualified students who want to work in urban public school classrooms. Choose from the Transition to Teaching (T2T) Program, the Post Baccalaureate Certification Program in elementary or secondary education or the Second Bachelor’s Degree Program in elementary or secondary education. Note that special education certification or endorsement requires additional coursework.
For profiles of all the schools in Indiana that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
- The IDOE’s Transition to Teaching Program places professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree in a core curricular area in a one-year academic and field experience program that enables them to teach in middle school or high school classrooms.
- The IDOE issues a one-year Emergency Permit at the request of a school district experiencing a teacher shortage. After seeking to fill the shortage area with a fully licensed teacher, the administration of a school or a special education cooperative has the option of hiring a candidate who holds a bachelor’s degree and placing that person in the classroom with an emergency permit. This candidate must then work toward the IDOE’s requirements for licensure, completing at least six semester hours per year.
- Indianapolis Teaching Fellows and Teach for America provide intensive training for college graduates who want to work in Indianapolis’ high-need classrooms.
Special Education Jobs in Indiana
- The IDOE’s School Personnel Job Bank posts job openings for teachers in reverse chronological order.
- The Northwest Indiana Special Education Cooperative and the West Lake Special Education Cooperative hire qualified special education teachers. View a complete list of Indiana’s many Special Education Cooperatives at the Indiana Institute of Disability and Community (IIDC) website.
- The Indiana IEP Resource Center (IEPRC) is funded by the IDOE. Through it, professionals offer trainings and share resources to support school districts and special educators in formulating effective IEPs.
- HANDS in Autism offers training for educators working with students with autism spectrum disorders.
- Conferences and workshops are among the offerings of Indiana State University’s Indiana Deafblind Services Project.
Indiana Professional Special Educator Groups
- The Indiana State Teachers Association and the Indiana Federation of Teachers represent public school employees, retired educators and pre-service educators with advocacy work.
- The Indianapolis Education Association consists of educators in one of the state’s largest public school districts.
- Indiana Protection & Advocacy Services is a state-mandated consortium of disability rights advocates and attorneys who interpret policy impacting Indiana’s people with disabilities.
Indiana Special Education Blogs
- The Arc of Indiana Blog: Advocacy and policy are the focal points of the official blog of The Arc of Indiana, an organization that supports people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
- Noble of Indiana News and Blog: Provided by an organization that helps people with disabilities lead meaningful lives, this blog features insights about early intervention, successful therapy techniques and resources for special educators and families of children and adults who have disabilities.
- FYI Newsletter: The IIDC, a research center at Indiana University Bloomington, publishes an e-newsletter that contains resources, news, event listings and announcements of interest to community stakeholders and families of people with disabilities.
- Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education: Public school advocacy in Indiana and beyond is the theme of this blog.