Texas Special Education
Education Week reports that Texas’ special education system was rated “Needs Intervention” by the U.S. Department of Education, as of the 2010/2011 school year. Nine percent of this state’s student population has been identified as having disabilities, significantly lower than the national average of 13 percent. However, due to Texas’ large size and multiple urban areas with dense populations, the state employs nearly 20,000 special education teachers to serve in its 1,265 districts, according to Concordia University. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) oversees issues pertaining to Texas educators; its Special Education Division provides information for teachers working with students with special needs.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Degrees in Texas
Consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as having one of the top special education programs in the nation, the Department of Special Education at the University of Texas at Austin offers several courses of study for would-be special educators. Both master’s degree and doctorate programs are offered in the areas of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Early Childhood Special Education, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Disorders, Multicultural Special Education and Rehabilitation Counselor Education. This school’s location in the arts-friendly city of Austin is considered a major plus. Texas A&M University, located in College Park, offers special education programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels, including an entirely online master’s degree program. Texas Women’s University awards bachelor’s degrees in special education at several grade levels. At the master’s degree level, the university offers two special education programs, Special Education: Intervention Specialist and Special Education: Educational Diagnostician. This school also offers a doctorate program with a focus on professional development for special educators.
For profiles of all the schools in Texas that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
The TEA has approved alternative certification programs that allow would-be educators to teach in Texas classrooms as paid or unpaid interns under the supervision of an experienced mentor while completing certification requirements, provided that these candidates meet criteria such as demonstrable basic skills and content area knowledge. Texas Troops to Teachers advises veterans and military personnel on how to transition to high-need areas in Texas public schools. The Texas Institute for Teacher Education offers an online alternative certification program for aspiring teachers, and helps graduates find teaching positions upon completion of the program.
Special Education Teaching Jobs in Texas
The TEA’s basic professional development guidelines can be found on this agency’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Information webpage. The Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) provides online training and other professional development programs. Education Service Center, Region 20 (ESC * 20) provides workshops and other training opportunities, support and resources for Texas special education teachers.
Texas Professional Groups for Special Education Teachers
Texas has several state teachers unions, including the Texas State Teachers Association, the state branch of the National Education Association. Other unions for educators in the state include the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers and the Texas Community College Teachers Association. The Arc of Texas is the state branch of a national organization that offers training, resources and support for individuals with disabilities and their families, as well as for educators. The Learning Disabilities Association of Texas is a non-profit volunteer organization for educators and other professionals concerned with special education, as well as individuals with disabilities and members of their families.
Texas Special Education Bloggers
- The Dynamic Duo: Kelley Hively and Orlanda De Los Santos work as a special education and speech therapy team at an Austin public school. They share curriculum, printable resources, techniques and tools for special educators.
- Awesomeness and Autism: Read stories and gain insight about teaching students with autism from Erin Stevenson-Bennett, a teacher who has spent 14 years working with students with learning disabilities, and the past four years teaching middle school students with autism.