Special Education in Wyoming
The Wyoming page on the Ed.gov website indicates that 17 percent of students in Wyoming (about 12,000 in number) are identified as having disabilities. This figure is significantly higher than the national average of 13 percent. Considering this high percentage of students with special needs, it is impressive that, as of the 2010/2011 school year, this state earned the U.S. Department of Education’s highest ranking (“Meets Requirements”) in regard to its ability to meet the nation’s special education targets, according to an Education Week infographic. Concordia University reports that the state employs over 900 special education teachers to serve in its 48 schools districts. Wyoming is unique in that it is a largely rural state, with over half of its districts meeting federal requirements for government grants to assist rural schools in meeting academic goals.
Types of Licenses
Special Education Degrees in Wyoming
The University of Wyoming (UW), located in Laramie, offers a master’s degree in special education that includes an endorsement to teach students with special needs in kindergarten through high school, as well as a non-master’s degree option, the 30-hour K-12 Endorsement program.
Bemidji State’s master’s in special education program is offered in collaboration with Natrona County School District. Bemidji State is in Minnesota, but Natrona County School district is in Casper, Wyoming. This partnership helps prepare graduates of the program to move right into a classroom setting. At the University of Wyoming, students can earn a master’s in education with an emphasis in special education. The program was designed for teachers who want additional training in teaching students with learning disabilities. The program is very flexible to accommodate the needs of all students and their work or personal schedules.
Alternatives to Licensure
Wyoming has measures in place to fill a teaching vacancy when a certificated candidate cannot be found; however, the Exception Authorization has stringent requirements. This authorization is valid for one year, allowing those who are granted it to complete the requirements for full licensure while they work in the classroom. Wyoming also hires uncertified teachers through the Northern Plains Transition to Teaching program (NPTT). Administered through Montana Statue University, this online master’s degree program requires that students have a bachelor’s degree and a proven career track record. In this two-year program, students complete teacher preparation coursework, and have to option to work as teachers during their second year of study.
Special Education Teaching Jobs in Wyoming
- The PTSB maintains a list of upcoming approved workshops for professional development. These workshops address general education as well as special education. Teachers can also submit requests to attend other workshops for credit by filling out the form available at the PTSB’s professional development page.
- The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) Special Programs Division sponsors an annual Leadership Symposium addressing issues of interest to educators in both general and special education.
- Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), the Wyoming State Personnel Development Grant assists state agencies in reforming their professional development offerings for special educators, from early intervention through transition services. Its programs focus on improving instructional practices and providing technical assistance and other resources.
Professional Groups for Special Education Teachers in Wyoming
- The membership of the Wyoming Education Association (WEA), the state teacher’s union, is comprised of teachers from every level of public education, preschool through university, along with retired educators, administrators, students in teacher preparation programs and educational support staff. The WEA works to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the state, and to promote the cause of public education.
- Teachers, administrators, government officials and other professionals form the membership of the Wyoming Advisory Panel for Students with Disabilities. The group advises the Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction, promoting services for children and youth with disabilities.
- Eye-to-Eye is a national mentoring organization with several chapters in Wyoming that employs an arts-based curriculum to help children and high school and university students with learning disabilities and ADHD appreciate their unique gifts.
A Special Education Blog in Wyoming
The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming: This Wyoming branch of the national ARC organization maintains a blog about regional special education programs, resources, opportunities, scholarships and the group’s accomplishments.