Oklahoma Special Education Overview
According to the Oklahoma Sate Snapshot on the Ed.gov website, 15 percent of Oklahoma students have disabilities, two percentage points above the national average. The state employs nearly 3,450 special education teachers, reports Concordia University. Like Texas, its neighbor to the south, Oklahoma has earned the rating of “Needs Intervention” for its special education services, as ranked by the United States Department of Education. The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSBE) and its Special Education Services division oversee policies concerning special education in the state.
Types of Licenses
Special Ed Degree Programs in Oklahoma
The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education the University of Oklahoma, located in Norman, allows students to choose from several special education programs. Its most accelerated program is offered in response to Oklahoma’s special education teacher shortage: the Special Education Boot Camp is a non-traditional online/hybrid route to special education certification. Other choices include an undergraduate program in special education that results in both a bachelor’s degree and a special education teaching certificate, a master’s degree in special education (with or without a teaching certificate) and a doctorate in special education. Located in Edmond, the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) also provides several degree options for would-be special educators. Undergraduates can earn a bachelor’s degree in special education, focusing on mild-moderate or severe-profound disabilities. At the graduate level, students can opt for a master’s degree in special education or speech-language pathology. One of the region’s oldest universities, UCO also holds the distinction of being a training site for the U.S. Paralympics.
For profiles of all the schools in Oklahoma that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
Oklahoma is one of many states experiencing a qualified teacher shortage in select areas, including special education. To help remedy the situation, the Oklahoma Alternative Placement Program allows individuals with bachelor’s degrees in an area relevant to the subject they which to teach to begin teaching in Oklahoma public schools while they work to meet the requirements of a Standard Certificate. Undergraduate coursework in special education may be enough to qualify a candidate for alternative placement in elementary grades, while teaching in upper grades typically requires demonstrating subject area mastery. Oklahoma’s Troops to Teachers program assists veterans and reserve personnel who hold a bachelor’s degree in gaining teaching certification and finding employment in high-need areas.
Working in Special Education in Oklahoma
- The OSBE provides a range of professional development opportunities for special educators.
- Professional Oklahoma Educators maintains a full roster of training programs for general and special educators in the areas of academic subjects, behavior management, legal issues, classroom instruction and communication.
- Oklahoma Directors of Special Services supports special educators with conferences, workshops and other training events, as well as a range of resources.
- The OCTP coordinates multiple projects that qualify as professional development for educators.
Oklahoma Organizations for Special Educators
The state teacher’s union, the Oklahoma Education Association is the primary professional organization for Oklahoma teachers. Teachers, administrators and support professionals in Oklahoma’s public education institutions comprise its 40,000-person membership. Membership dues depend upon an individual’s professional category and employment status.
Oklahoma Special Education Blogs
- Chalk Talk Speech Therapy: Alicia is a speech language pathologist who shares her experiences and tips working as a traveling speech pathologist in rural southeastern Oklahoma.
- Brain Fitness Strategies: Authors and brain fitness professionals Paul and Susan Phariss are located in Tulsa but are nationally-known neurodevelopmental specialists. Their blog includes information on research and detailed tips on how to use rhythmic movement to overcome learning disabilities.