Special Education in Oregon
The state of Oregon has seen an increase in the number of students requiring special education services every year for over a decade. Students with special needs comprise 13.3 percent of the overall student population in Oregon schools as of 2013, according to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). Nearly 75,000 children in grades K-12 receive special education services, and the total number of children ages 0-21 who receive these services is over 85,000. Coupled with the ODE’s stated need for hiring and retaining highly-qualified educators in the field of special education, this means that local employment prospects in this field look promising.
Types of Licenses
- Basic Teaching (only for individuals who earned teaching certificates before 1999)
- Five-Year Elementary Teaching
- Five-Year Secondary Teaching
- Five-Year Teaching
- Initial I Teaching (a first-level license valid in a certain subject area and at specific grade levels)
- Initial II Teaching (a second-level license valid in a certain subject area and at specific grade levels)
- Standard Teaching
The TSPC website outlines the most up-to-date requirements for new teachers, as well as for educators already in the profession who wish to teach students with special needs.
Special Education Degrees in Oregon
The ODE administrates a State Improvement Grant (SIG) which provides personal and financial assistance to qualified candidates, with the aim of increasing the number of highly-qualified personnel in the field of special education. This is part of the state’s plan to recruit and retain highly-qualified teachers. The 2013 graduate school rankings published by U.S. News & World Report placed the University of Oregon’s special education graduate program in the top three special education programs in the nation. The school has received this honor annually for over a decade. Located in the bike-friendly college town of Eugene, this university offers programs for would-be special education teachers at all levels in their educational and career tracks. Undergraduates can minor in special education in preparation for a post-bachelor’s teaching certificate and endorsement in special education, while graduate students can opt for a master’s degree with or without a license option; the university also offers a doctoral program in special education. Portland State University offers the six-term AddSped program, designed for certificated teachers who want an endorsement in special education. Professionals teaching at the elementary and secondary school levels can add special education certification to their license and, if they wish, apply the credits toward a master’s degree.
For profiles of all the schools in Oregon that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
The TSPC License Guide lists several situations in which applicants may teach via an alternative route to certification or with a nontraditional certificate. For instance, the TSPC might grant an Emergency Teaching or NCLB Alternative Route Teaching license to an individual who has not finished an approved teacher education program but who shows proof of special education teaching competency as outlined by the TSPC or the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The NCLB Alternative Route requires that a school district co-apply with the potential teacher; once this license is granted that teacher may only work within the district that co-applied for the license.
Working in Special Education in Oregon
- The Portland Public Schools (PPS) website features links to education employment opportunities in the state’s largest school district.
- The Oregon.gov career opportunities webpage outlines current job opportunities in the Oregon state government. Search for openings for special education teachers by searching under the Education category or the Education, Training & Library category.
The ODE professional development webpage announces news and provides links to professional development and continuing education opportunities. For more specific announcements regarding professional development for teachers in the field of special education, consult the offerings of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDE). The Center for Great Public Schools (CGPS), operated by the Oregon teachers’ union, also offers ongoing professional development opportunities for general educators.
Oregon Professional Groups for Special Education Teachers
The state teacher’s union, the Oregon Education Association (OEA), consists of 45,000 educators who work in Oregon’s preschools through community colleges. Teachers outside the public school system cannot join the OEA. While Family and Community Together (FACT) is an organization directed toward empowering Oregon families affected by disabilities, its website features a page with links to active special education PTA groups and other advocacy and educator associations in Oregon.
Oregon Special Education Bloggers
- Bilingual Special Ed: Researcher and educational consultant Dr. Claudia Rinaldi and Dr. Julie Esparza Brownis, Assistant Professor of Special Education at Portland State University, highlight state and national issues pertaining to bilingual education, dual immersion, IDEA, response to intervention (RTI), special education and bilingual special education.
- Oregon Live: Omamas and urbanMamas: The Omamas cooperative blog, a subgroup of The Oregonian’s blog network contains updates pertaining to parenting, education, schools and families in Oregon. A similar cooperative blog with a hyper-local Portland and Oregon education focus is urbanMamas.