North Dakota Special Education
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 14 percent of North Dakota’s student population has been identified as having disabilities, one percent above the national average. Concordia University reports that the state employs nearly 840 special educators. The U.S. Department of Education awarded North Dakota with its highest rating, “Meets Requirements,” in regard to its special education services for the 2010/2011 school year. The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (DPI) provides programs, services, resources and information for public educators; its Special Education department provides information specific to educators working with students with special needs. The DPI does not oversee teaching licensure, however; the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) is an independent entity that determines certification policies and issues licenses. In 2012, the ESPB has issued a Critical Shortage Area Declaration stating that every content area and grade level in the state, except for elementary education and physical education, has a high need for qualified teachers.
Types of Licenses
- The two-year Initial License is awarded to new teachers who meet all state requirements.
- The 40-day Provisional License is for individuals who have met licensure requirements and only are waiting for the results of their background checks.
- The two-year Renewal License and the five-year Renewal License are for North Dakota teachers who hold expired or valid certificates and who have a certain amount of teaching experience.
Special Education Teaching Degrees in North Dakota
Located in the city of Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota’s (UND) Special Education Department offers a special education certificate in autism spectrum disorder and master’s degrees programs for teachers who want to add a special education endorsement to their license, as well as for those who want to obtain a license to teach special education. Both the certificate program and a master’s degree program are available as online courses of study. The University of North Dakota has also partnered with public school systems in North Dakota and Minnesota to offer the Special Education Resident Teacher Program (SERTP), which recruits individuals from rural areas who hold general education licenses or who serve as para-educators, places them in high-need areas (often their own communities) and supports them with mentorship as well as coursework. This program results in a master’s degree. CollegeCalc ranks the special education bachelor’s degree program at Minot State University as the nation’s most affordable option of its kind. Undergraduate programs at this school include a Bachelor of Science in education with a major in intellectual and developmental disabilities (with elementary and secondary options); an Associate of Science, Bachelor of Science or certificate of completion in developmental disabilities; a special education concentration (equivalent to a minor); and a pre-professional deaf and hard of hearing teacher education minor. Graduate programs in special education at Minot include several courses of study that result in a Master of Science in special education. Emphases of these programs include deaf and hard of hearing, early childhood, strategist, specific learning disabilities and developmental disabilities (DD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
For profiles of all the schools in North Dakota that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
In some cases, the ESPB issues an Interim License or Alternate License to a candidate with a bachelor’s degree to fill a teaching position in a critical shortage area in the public school system. North Dakota is part of the Lewis & Clark Region Troops to Teachers which helps eligible military personnel receive certification and transition to working in the state’s high-need classrooms.
Special Education Teaching Jobs in North Dakota
- The professional development section of the ESPB’s webpage outlines its general policy concerning ongoing education for North Dakota teachers. It also provides a list of online and in-person professional development opportunities.
- The DPI’s special education webpage contains announcements regarding summer training programs and workshops of interest to special educators. Its Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) webpage provides more detailed information about its Response To Intervention (RTI) plan and professional development materials that support it.
- The North Dakota Teacher Center Network administrates a wide range of programs and projects, including staff development programs, distance learning opportunities, graduate courses, workshops, teacher exchanges, curriculum support and referral services.
North Dakota Groups for Special Educators
The state teacher’s union, the North Dakota Education Association, consists of professionals in public education institutions, students preparing to work in public schools and retired educators. A project of Minot State University, the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities plans and implements projects and training programs involving local educators, with the goal of serving those with disabilities. The mission of the North Dakota Teacher Center Network is to connect teachers with state and national agencies and with the local community. The Pathfinder Parent Center offers resources, webinars and workshops to support students with special needs, their families and educators.