West Virginia Special Education
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 15.9 percent of West Virginia’s students possess Individualized Education Programs, significantly higher than the national average of 13 percent. Nonetheless, Education Week reports that the state earns the U.S. Department of Education’s highest rating, “Meets Requirements,” for its ability to meet special education academic targets. West Virginia employs 3,625 special educators who work at 771 public schools that are organized into 55 school districts. The state has 143 private schools. The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is the state pubic education authority; its Office of Special Programs oversees issues related to students with disabilities.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Degrees in West Virginia
The WVDE has approved several programs for individuals seeking multi-categorical special education certification, including courses of study offered at Concord University, Fairmont State University and Marshall University. The WVDE also approves several additional master’s degree and certification programs offered by West Virginia University’s Department of Special Education, in areas including autism spectrum disorders, gifted education, early childhood special education, severe/multiple disabilities and low vision/blindness. In addition, the department offers a doctorate degree in education with an emphasis in special education.
For profiles of all the schools in West Virginia that offer master’s in special education programs, click here.
Alternatives to Certification
Individuals seeking an alternative route to teaching special education in West Virginia must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and demonstrate subject mastery in the core subject area in which they wish to teach. The Teach West Virginia website contains a list of department-approved special education alternative certification programs in the state. Some candidates may participate in an alternative route special education internship program, which could take the place of some of the coursework requirements.
Special Education Teaching Jobs in West Virginia
- The WVDE’s West Virginia Professional Teaching Standards booklet contains an overview of departmental expectations for West Virginia educators. The Professional Responsibilities for Self-Renewal section focuses on methods for refining teaching practices.
- The Office of Special Programs organizes several Summer Academies to support special educators. Topics cover individualized instruction and meeting the needs of diverse learners, including those with autism spectrum disorders.
- The Department of Special Education at West Virginia University maintains a diverse roster of department- and state agency-sponsored courses for special educators.
- The WVDE’s e-Learning for Educators portal provides virtual teacher training.
- The WVDE’s Model Classrooms Project provides video clips showing best practices in action.
- The WV Classroom Assessment Networks (CAN) project trains educators in developing formative classroom assessment practices.
West Virginia Special Educator Groups
- The West Virginia Education Association (the National Education Association-affiliated state teacher’s union) and the American Federation of Teachers (affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), advocate on behalf of West Virginia public educators.
- The West Virginia Advisory Council for the Education of Exceptional Children (WVACEEC), organized by the WVDE, is a state-mandated board that interprets special education policy.
Special Education Blogs in West Virginia
- Office of Special Programs Monthly Calls: The WVDE has an interesting method for communicating its latest policies and practices in special education: The office organizes a public forum every month in the format of a conference call. Access the archives and participate in ongoing forums at the WVDE site.