Special Education

WIU offers Bachelor and Master Degree Programs in Special Education.  

Special Education

The Special Education major leads to certification in Illinois to teach students in K-12 with learning disabilities, mild and severe intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, behavioral disorders, autism, physical disabilities, and other health impairments. Candidates can also earn certification in Elementary Education as they complete the Special Education program. Our program does not prepare candidates to teach students with visual or hearing impairments. Candidates who complete WIU’s Special Education program are highly knowledgeable, reflective teachers committed to creating positive learning communities and using research-based strategies that enable all students to be successful.

Program Coursework and Field Experiences

In addition to specific general education coursework, candidates complete numerous courses in the major that provide opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills that will enable them to be successful teachers. Special Education majors complete specific coursework focusing on teaching students with special needs in elementary as well as high school settings. Candidates complete many of the methods courses in the Elementary Education program, which prepares them to teach collaboratively in inclusive classroom settings.

Candidates observe and participate in classrooms and alternative settings during the freshman and sophomore years of the program. Prior to student teaching, they complete a semester long field experience in an elementary classroom and a similar experience in a high school classroom. The program concludes with a sixteen-week student teaching experience with eight weeks in an elementary classroom and eight weeks in a high school classroom. In the senior level field experiences and student teaching, candidates complete a teacher work sample to document their ability to positively impact student learning.

Program Accreditation

WIU’s teacher education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The Special Education program is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children. Through the completion of required coursework, field experiences, and student teaching, candidates develop the competencies delineated in state and professional teaching standards.

Career Paths

Graduates are employed as teachers in K-12 classrooms for students with special needs. Candidates also teach and work with individuals in a variety of alternative settings.

Why Choose Special Education at WIU

We prepare candidates to meet the highest standards in teaching. Candidates graduating from the Special Education program are empowered teachers who are, in turn, able to empower the individual they teach. We emphasize development of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to enhance and motivate student learning

The strength of the Special Education program at WIU is the number of special education courses, elementary education methods courses, and field experiences candidates complete that prepare them to teach and work with students with a range of special needs. Through this program we prepare future special education teachers who

  1. Acquire knowledge of the content they will teach and techniques to make the content meaningful for all students;
  2. Develop an understanding of the unique characteristics and needs of students with disabilities;
  3. Learn to use research-based teaching practices to promote the growth, development, learning, and potential of each student;
  4. Develop the ability to modify instruction to address the strengths and weaknesses of students with diverse needs;
  5. Learn to use methods of teaching in each of the content areas in both special education and general education classrooms;
  6. Gain experience in the use of research-based principles to plan effective instruction, integrate technology in instruction, assess student learning and create and maintain positive, safe learning environments;
  7. Use professional dispositions, including those that promote fairness and reflect the belief that all individuals can be empowered to learn, to positively impact student learning; and
  8. Reflect upon and continually improve their teaching.

Courses in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction are taught by full-time faculty, most of whom have a doctorate degree in their field. Our faculty have taught in a variety of public and privates school settings and have been recognized for their excellence in teaching, scholarship, and use of technology in the college classroom. Faculty are actively involved in a variety of professional organizations, provide continuing education workshops for teachers, and publish books and articles in state, national and international journals.

The Special Education program emphasizes the importance of knowledge, commitment, action, and reflection in becoming an effective teacher. Department faculty provide experiences that enable candidates to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to become skilled, competent, and creative teachers who are able to facilitate students’ learning. The individual assistance that faculty provide candidates ensures this goal is achieved.

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