Iowa Special Education
The Institute of Education Sciences reports that 13.8 percent of Iowa students have an Individualized Education Program, slightly above the national average of 13 percent. The U.S. Department of Education ranked the state’s special education services as “Needs Assistance,” as of the 2010/2011 school year, according to Education Week. Over 5,350 special education teachers work in Iowa, according to Concordia University; they serve 1,501 public schools and nine charter schools in 361 districts. The Iowa Department of Education (IDE) oversees the state’s special education programs.
Iowa Teaching Licenses
- The two-year Initial License is for individuals who have earned bachelor’s degrees and completed approved teacher preparation programs. Candidates for this license must demonstrate recency, meaning that they have must have completed six college credits or have teaching experience within the last five years.
- The five-year Standard License applies to individuals who have met all of the requirements for the Initial License and also have taught for two years in Iowa public schools or three years in Iowa private schools or schools outside the state.
- Educators with five years of teaching experience who have earned a master’s degree in a relevant subject area may apply for a Master Educator License.
Teachers interested in working with students with special needs can add a special education endorsement to their Iowa licenses by meeting academic and professional criteria. These endorsements include Pk-3 Including Special Education, Early Childhood Special Education, Instructional Strategist I: Mild/Moderate, Instructional Strategist II: Behavior Disorder/Learning Disabilities, Instructional Strategist II: Mental Disabilities, Instructional Strategis tII: Physical Disabilities, Mildly Disabled, Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Visually Disabled.
Special Education Teaching Degrees in Iowa
For an accelerated path to teaching in Iowa classrooms, consider the Iowa Teacher Intern License Pathway. This 22-month course of study, offered at the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, includes a nine-month teaching internship. Likewise, there is an accelerated path to earning a special education endorsement in Iowa. For a more traditional path to licensure, consider one of the master’s degree programs in education offered at the University of Northern Iowa. This school’s Special Education Department allows graduate students to pursue master’s degrees with one of four emphases (Field Specialization, Consultant, Career/Vocational or Visual Impairments). General education teachers who want to add a special education endorsement can choose from four options: Director of Special Education, Special Education Consultant, Supervision of Special Education Instructional or Work Experience Coordinator. At the doctorate level, students can opt for a degree in education with a Special Education Administration Emphasis. Located in Iowa City, the University of Iowa offers special education degrees at all levels. An undergraduate endorsement program results in a state license in an area of special education, while the master’s degree program includes the coursework necessary to earn a degree as well as a special education teaching license in a designated area. For students seeking entry-level work in administration, the university also offers two non-degree endorsement programs for special education supervisors.
For profiles of all the schools in Iowa that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
The IBE issues a Teacher Intern License to individuals enrolled in its Iowa-approved teacher intern program. Candidates must have completed the minimum requirements, including some coursework in pedagogy. The Class B (Conditional) License (Teacher) is for Iowa educators who are teaching outside their areas of endorsement as they complete the IBE requirements to receive an endorsement in the area in which they are currently teaching.
Teaching Special Education in Iowa
- The IDE’s Iowa Professional Development Model webpage describes the state’s approach to and requirements for professional development.
- The ISEA Academy’s diverse offerings include face-to-face and online classes that meet IDE criteria for professional development. Lead teachers or educators with board certification instruct the face-to-face classes, while virtual classes are self-study or teacher-facilitated.
- The College of Education at the University of Iowa provides professional development coursework in addition to its certificate and degree programs. One of the department’s essential elements is the Center for Disability Research and Education, which allows researchers to implement evidence-based practices. This center’s staff provides focused workshops, described on its Professional Development webpage.
Special Education Professional Groups in Iowa
- Advocacy is the essential function of the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA).
- The IDE’s Special Education Advisory Panel interprets policy and offers consultation regarding special education services in Iowa public schools.
Iowa Special Education Bloggers
- Each and Every Child: The IDE’s e-newsletter covers overarching issues for special educators, as well as local insights about Iowa special education classrooms. Subscribe via email or browse the newsletter archives online.
- AEAs Impacting Lives: Iowa’s Area Education Agencies maintain this group blog in which parents and other community members can share stories about services that children with special needs receive in Iowa schools and agencies.