New Mexico Special Education
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) rated New Mexico’s special education services as meeting all federal requirements as of the 2010/2011 school year, according to Education Week. Although this is the DOE’s highest ranking, it can be misleading: Concordia University reports that this state determined that 30 of its school districts needed assistance in the area of special education, and that 11 others required intervention. The DOE indicates that 14 percent of students in New Mexico have disabilities, one percentage point higher than the national average. The state employs over 2,050 special educators who serve in 89 districts. The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) Special Education Bureau oversees district policies regarding teacher certification and the delivery of special education services to the state’s student population.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Degrees in New Mexico
The University of New Mexico, which has a main campus in the city of Albuquerque and smaller branches throughout the state, offers several courses of study through its special education program. These include a bachelor’s degree in special education, an undergraduate minor in special education, a master’s degree in special education, a doctorate in special education, an education specialist certificate in special education, a graduate certificate in Instruction for Students with Intensive Social, Language, and Behavioral Needs (ISLB), a graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis and an Educational Diagnostician Preparation Program. For students seeking an accelerated path to teaching in special education settings in New Mexico, the undergraduate special education program at New Mexico Highlands University results in a bachelor’s degree in special education, while simultaneously providing the coursework necessary to apply for a special education teaching license. Courses are offered at all four campuses (in Las Vegas, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and Farmington), as well as beamed through the Educational Outreach Services Department to satellite campuses in Peasco, Cimarron, Taos and Maxwell. This university also offers a master’s degree in special education, with or without licensure.
For profiles of all the schools in New Mexico that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
The NMPED’s Professional Licensure Bureau gives would-be special education teachers three paths to alternative licensure in New Mexico. Candidates can earn a three-year Internship License with a bachelor’s or master’s degree plus 12 to 21 semester hours in an approved teacher preparation program. Graduates with doctorate degrees in special education also can qualify for this program. For a list of all of the requirements and a link to the application for this license, see the NMPED’s Alternative Special Education, PreK-12 guidelines. The second option for alternative certification is the Alternative Portfolio – Special Education P K-12 (OPAL). In this scenario, a candidate (who must hold a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate) must teach for a full year while holding an Internship License, as well as complete a web-based portfolio that provides evidence of teaching competence. The final path toward alternative licensure applies only to those with a master’s degree or doctorate and five years of teaching at the post-secondary level. For more information on this option, consult the NMPED’s Post Secondary Experienced Alternative Special Education, Pre K-12 guidelines.
Working in Special Education in New Mexico
- One of the primary profession development resources for New Mexico special educators is the Region IX Education Cooperative. Among its offerings are monthly webinars led by the NMPED’s Special Education Bureau.
- The University of New Mexico’s Center for Development and Disability offers training programs, workshops, job listings and other resources of interest to special educators.
- New Mexico Highland University, which offers degree programs in special education, also provides professional development courses for special educators.
Professional Groups for New Mexico Special Education Teachers
- The National Education Association-New Mexico (NEA-NM) is the New Mexico branch of the national teachers’ union. Its membership includes employees of New Mexico public schools or any other public institution concerned with education, as well as retried educators and students in New Mexico teacher preparation programs.
- The New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Planning Council is a state organization of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, as well as state agency representatives, government appointees and educators, concerned with improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities through self-advocacy programs, as well as advocacy for inclusion and integration.
- Based in Albuquerque, Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs (EPICS) serves families in New Mexico as well as Utah, Arizona and Colorado. This organization provides free training programs for both parents and educators.