Special Education in North Carolina
According to the National Center For Education Statistics, 12.4 percent of North Carolina’s students have an Individualized Education Program, nearly equal to the United States average of 13 percent. The U.S. Department of Education gives North Carolina’s special education services its highest rating of “Meets Requirements.” The state employs 10,325 special educators to serve 115 public school districts consisting of 2,592 public schools and 96 charter schools. North Carolina also has 574 private schools. The Exceptional Children Division is part of the Public Schools of North Carolina’s Department of Instruction (NCDPI), which oversees state educational policies.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Teaching Degrees in North Carolina
The Work 4 NC Schools webpage features a list of approved teacher education programs in North Carolina. The state offers a unique course of study through its community college system to help undergraduates qualify for North Carolina teaching licensure; participating institutions and programs include the Appalachian Learning Alliance, Western Carolina University’s Western 2Step Program, East Carolina University’s Partnership East and the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Of the nearly 40 accredited universities with special education degree options in North Carolina, the Special Education Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is offered on one of the largest, most urban campuses. This university’s College of Education awards a bachelor’s degree in special education with a focus on general curriculum or adapted curriculum, as well as a dual license program in Special Education (General Curriculum) and Elementary Education (K-6). Current educators can pursue specialization through the university’s Adapted Curriculum Licensure Plus Project. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte also offers a course of study that qualifies participants for a license in adapted or general curriculum, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching in special education, a Master of Education in special education and a research-intensive doctorate degree in special education. Students interested in working with the deaf and hard of hearing should consider the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, which offers a Bachelor of Science Degree with various concentrations including Interpreter Preparation and Advocacy & Services for the Deaf.
For profiles of all the schools in North Carolina that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
The North Carolina Teacher Corps targets recent college graduates with majors outside of education as well as mid-career professionals seeking to transition to an education career. Participants are provided with training and support while they teach full time in a North Carolina high-need school.
Special Education Teaching Jobs in North Carolina
- The North Carolina State Improvement Project is an NCDPI-endorsed network of trainings and support services designed to improve the academic success of students with disabilities in North Carolina.
- The NCDPI sponsors an annual Conference on Exceptional Children and an annual Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement as part of its professional development offerings.
- Other NCDPI projects for professionals include the Directors’ Institute and Summer Institutes in several areas of special education and general education.
- The North Carolina Association of Educators offers in-person and online trainings to help educators refine their teaching practices.
North Carolina Special Education Teacher Groups
The North Carolina Association of Educators represents employees of public education institutions as well as retired educators and students in teacher preparation programs. The Council on Educational Services for Exceptional Children consists of community stakeholders from special education and disability advocacy groups. It meets regularly to discuss and interpret policy pertaining to special education.
North Carolina Special Education Blogs
- DPI Publication Electronic Newsletter: Subscribe to NCDPI’s e-newsletter to receive the latest official information about state educational resources.
- Noble Academy Blog: The official blog of this school for students with learning disabilities features coverage of school news and state resources.
- Disability Rights North Carolina: This blog covers Disability Rights North Carolina’s advocacy work, as well as state legislation and policies impacting the community.