Special Education in Mississippi
The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and its Office of Special Education oversee matters concerning public schools and special education services and resources in the state. Mississippi employs 910 special education teachers to serve students at its 1,097 public schools and sole charter school, which are divided into 152 school districts. The state also has 231 private schools. The U.S. Department of Education rates Mississippi’s special education services as “Meets Requirements,” the highest ranking it awards. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the state provides 13 percent of the student population with Individualized Education Programs, the same percentage as the national average.
Types of Licenses
Special Ed Degree Programs in Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, located in the historic city of Hattiesburg, offers a standout bachelor’s degree program that results in a dual licensure in elementary education and special education. Candidates can also opt for an undergraduate degree in special education with or without certification, or a bachelor’s degree in education of the deaf. At the graduate level, the university’s master’s degree in special education allows students to choose elective coursework which leads to Mississippi teaching certification in Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Emotional/Behavior Disorders, Severe Disabilities or Gifted Education. The Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education at Mississippi State University offers certificate programs, bachelor’s degrees and graduate degrees in education, with various endorsements and specializations in special education. The bachelor’s degree in special education offers several options for specialized endorsement.
For information on master’s in special education programs in Mississippi, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
Aspiring teachers in Mississippi have several routes toward alternative licensure, including:
- The Mississippi Alternate Path to Quality Educators is for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in a core curricular area, but not in education. Such candidates take part in an intensive three-week training program before entering classrooms and earn an Alternate Route Educator License. They then complete the requirements for a five-year license during a one-year internship that includes working with a mentor teacher.
- Candidates in the Master of Arts in Teaching program receive alternative licensure after completing six graduate hours of MDE-approved pre-teaching coursework. They then complete additional credit hours and an internship.
- The Mississippi Teacher Corps prepares candidates with non-education bachelor’s degrees to teach in Mississippi’s public schools in high-poverty areas. Candidates work under a two-year teaching contact with full pay, while receiving full training and certification.
Special Education Jobs in Mississippi
- The MDE’s Job Search Assistance webpage contains links to its School District Employment Database, district websites, teacher shortage areas and the current vacancies posted at the Mississippi Teacher Center.
- The University of Mississippi School of Education’s job board contains links to openings for K-12 teachers and administrators throughout the state.
- Millcreek of Magee runs a school for children with developmental disabilities and emotional disturbances. The organization also offers day treatment, a residential facility and therapeutic group homes.
- Jackson’s New Summit School serves K-12 students with learning disabilities. Among the programs offered are day classes, life skills classes, distance learning and summer school.
- Project Start is part of the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, offering hands-on training in using various types of assistive technology.
- Mississippi State University coordinates several programs and resources that provide continuing education units to working special education teachers.
- The Mississippi Association of Educators offers seminars and resources for working professionals.
- Members of Mississippi Professional Educators can take advantage of intensive trainings and workshops that prepare leaders in education and special education.
Mississippi Professional Groups for Special Educators
- The state teacher’s union, the Mississippi Association of Educators (MAE), advocates for its membership of public school employees, retired public educators and students in teacher preparation programs.
- MDE’s Special Education Advisory Panel, mandated by the federal government, meets to interpret special education policy and advise the Office of Special Education on its proper implementation.
- The Mississippi Council for Exceptional Children advocates on behalf of children and youth with disabilities.
- The Arc of Mississippi organizes programs and events focused on inclusion of individuals with disabilities.
- Disability Rights Mississippi is an advocacy group focused on the interpretation and implementation of laws protecting Mississippi’s citizens who have disabilities.
Mississippi Special Education Blogs
- Mississippi Teacher Corps Blogs: This group of blogs features insights and observations by new teachers working in Mississippi’s most impoverished school districts.