Special Education in Missouri
The U.S. Department of Education bestowed its highest rating, “Meets Requirements,” on the special education services provided in Missouri, according to Education Week. The Institute of Education Services indicates that 13.8 percent of students in Missouri hold Individualized Education Programs, slightly higher than the national average of 13 percent. The state’s 2,456 public schools and 48 charter schools are divided into 523 districts, which employ nearly 9,000 special education teachers. The Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) is in charge of policies and practices impacting public schools in the state, and oversees the Office of Special Education.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Teaching Programs in Missouri
The Department of Special Education at the University of Missouri prepares educators with an undergraduate degree in special education; master’s degree programs in special education focusing on autism, behavioral disorders, cross categorical, early childhood, gifted education and learning disabilities; and a doctorate program with several areas of emphasis: autism, behavioral disorders, early childhood special education and learning disabilities. The majority of these degrees offer the DESE-required coursework for licensure in the state. Missouri State University’s Special Education/Cross Categorical Undergraduate Program features two DESE-approved programs that allows graduates to work in K-12 cross-categorical settings, as well as other general education and special education settings. They include a four-year course of study,as well as an accelerated master’s degree with one of several areas of focus.
For profiles of all the schools in Missouri that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
The DESE offers a Provisional (academic contract) Certificate to individuals currently enrolled in teacher preparation program who have secured a job in a Missouri public school or accredited private school. These candidates must have their academic institution send a Plan of Study for DESE review. For individuals who have completed their bachelor’s degree in a core subject area that is not education, the DESE might award a Temporary Authorization Certificate. This route to licensure entails following the DESE-approved Plan of Study that applies to the certificate a candidate wishes to earn. The candidate must have a position in a Missouri public school district, agree to teach for at least two years, participate in a mentoring program and pass exit exams.
Special Education Jobs in Missouri
- The MOREAP Teacher Job Listings webpage allows job seekers to sort listings for open positions in participating districts of Missouri public schools by region, position and subject areas.
- The DESE and SuccessLink sponsor the MO Teaching Jobs website, which pairs qualified candidates with state public school districts.
- The DESE operates three schools dedicated to serving only populations with special needs, including the Missouri School for the Blind, the Missouri School for the Deaf and Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled.
- The Special School District of St. Louis County is a unique public school district that provides intensive, individualized support for children with special needs.
The DESE’s professional development guidelines summarize state requirements for continuing education. Missouri State University’s Southwest Regional Professional Development Center (RPDC) provides regional special education training programs, as well as support and consultation to school districts. The Heart of Missouri RPDC also provides training opportunities, as well as resources for special educators.
Missouri Special Education Groups for Teachers
- The state teacher’s union, the Missouri State Teachers Association, is open to public educators and administrators, other public school employees, pre-service teachers and retired teachers. Membership dues for teachers vary, depending upon their years of experience and the number of hours that they teach.
- The state-mandated Missouri Special Education Advisory Panel provides policy guidance on issues related to special education.
- The DESE also manages a Task Force on Blind Student Academic and Vocational Performance.
- The Missouri National Education Association is an advocate for public schools, public school students and public school employees. Members consist of public school educators and support staff in both preK-12 schools and colleges and universities. Special School District NEA represents special education teachers in the Special School District of St. Louis, and education support professionals in Special School District are also represented by Missouri NEA.
Missouri Special Education Blogs
- Applied Learning Processes: This blog contains teaching and parenting tips from experts who diagnose learning disabilities and consult with Kansas City, Missouri schools, teachers and families.
- Special Education ListServe: The DESE manages this subscription-based ListServ that operates as a repository of information regarding special education funding, compliance, data collection and training.