Washington Special Education
According to the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the state of Washington provides special education and associated services to over 124,000 students. About 12 percent of Washington students have been identified as having learning disabilities, which is slightly less than the national average of 13 percent. Nearly 5,500 special education teachers are employed by public school districts in the state, according to Concordia University.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Teaching Degrees in Washington
A total of 21 colleges and universities in Washington are approved by the Professional Educator Standards Board to offer educator preparation programs. For a complete and up-to-date list of these programs, consult this board’s list of approved teacher preparation programs. The 2013 graduate school rankings published by U.S. News & World Report placed the University of Washington’s special education program in the top 10 of its kind in the nation. Located in Seattle, the University of Washington College of Education offers master’s degrees in teaching and education and a Doctor of Education. Students at the University of Washington who choose an advanced degree with an emphasis in special education can select many areas of focus. Refer to the special education page of the university’s website for detailed descriptions of each program. The University of Washington also maintains a website dedicated to special education policy issues in Washington state.
For information on master’s in special education programs in Washington, click here.
Alternatives Paths in Washington State
Washington has a system in place to address special education staffing shortages in its public schools. Teachers who do not have a special education endorsement can enter a special education teaching position with a temporary out-of-endorsement assignment or a pre-endorsement waiver. The endorsement requires the completion of six semester hours or nine quarter hours of accredited coursework in special education, while the waiver requires 16 semester hours or 24 quarter hours of such coursework. You can find more information about these options at http://www.k12.wa.us/SpecialEd/endorsement_faq.aspx.
Teaching Special Education in Washington
The Washington Education Association’s Special Education Support Center offers programs for educators, administrators, teachers-in-training, families and service organizations. Its professional development and week-long Special Education Bootcamps are funded through the Washington Special Education Training For All (WWSTA) grant. Training topics include autism awareness, behavior interventions, brain research, effective instruction, IEP non-transition, IEP with transition, Section 504, special education law and universal design for learning. Seattle University’s Center for Change in Transition Services focuses its resources on providing technical support and training to public high schools as they help students transition to adulthood. This organization offers programs designed to form a bridge of services for high school students with special needs, preparing them to meet independent living goals, as well as obtain continuing education and employment.
Professional Groups for Special Education Teachers in Washington
The state teacher’s union, the Washington Education Association, is open to public school employees in the state of Washington. Dues are 0.00775 percent of a Washington state classroom teacher’s average salary, which was $405 in 2012-2013. The Washington State PTA, begun in 1905, has over 140,000 members. In 2012, the organization released a statement citing special education advocacy as one of its primary goals. Formed in 1977, the Washington State Special Education Coalition is a group consisting of parents, teachers, administrators and other members of the community. It focuses on statewide and national issues concerning special education policy, compliance, accountability, retaining educators, training and professional development. The Arc of Washington State is an advocacy group for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and maintains an active Facebook page. Another state-wide advocacy group is Disability Rights Washington, which protects the rights of those with disabilities. In addition, the Learning Disabilities Association of Washington provides information, resources and a referral network for individuals and families impacted by learning and attention disabilities.
Washington Special Education Bloggers
- Southwest Washington Special Education Conference and Resource Fair Blog: Conference chair and experienced special education teacher Annie Lambert details her struggles and inspirations working as a special education teacher.
- Because We Care: Cheryl Felak writes impassioned, insightful posts about model programs that support a continuum of care for people with developmental disabilities.
- Seattle Schools Community Forum: Seattle public schools’ policies and reform are the general focus of this blog, but many of the posts address special education and inclusion.