Those wanting to be special education teachers have a new avenue for certification, thanks to Oklahoma House Bill 1233.
The Oklahoma State Board of Education approved the policies needed to implement the bill during a special meeting Wednesday which allow for “boot camps” to provide training for a provisional special education teaching certificate.
The bill was the idea of the Oklahoma Directors of Special Services to respond to teacher shortages due to few college graduates majoring in special education.
A standard certificate for special education teachers includes completion of a special education degree as well as passing the appropriate exams.
Previously, teachers certified in other areas could take and pass the exam for special education and become certified. Since that is no longer the case, ODSS came up with the idea for the alternative certification.
“You’re going to have teachers already experienced and tenured who can attend the boot camp that will build on that experience,” said Carolyn Thomas, Ardmore City Schools special services director.
The new boot camps are for those with bachelor’s degrees who commit to complete a master ’s degree or certification program in special education. Candidates must have the recommendation of a school district and commit to teach in the district for at least three years.
Those who complete the boot camp would be issued a one-year provisional certification that can be renewed twice.
Credit hours earned during the boot camp can also apply toward eventual standard certification or master's degree in special education.
"The boot camps will expedite coursework," Thomas said.
The boot camp includes 150 hours of training and field experience.
Course topics, to be covered over 120 hours, include introduction to special education, Individualized Education Program, behavioral management, effective teaching and reading strategies, assessments and legal and ethical issues.
Candidates must also complete 30 hours of field-based experiences, which include observations, one-on-one, small group and large group activities.
The University of Oklahoma is offering a boot camp for the teaching of students with mild to moderate disabilities that began June 3 and runs through July 31. It includes online and hybrid courses that give the candidate nine graduate credit hours that can be applied to a master's degree.