New K-12 Special Ed Endorsement Meeting Needs of Rural Nebraska Schools

By SARA GIBONEY
UNK Communications

KEARNEY – A new endorsement to help prepare students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney to teach special education in kindergarten through 12th grade will help meet a need in rural Nebraska.

“In the past, students were able to earn a special education endorsement in K-6 or 7-12. Many students would work to obtain both endorsements, which meant more course work and more tuition,” said Ken Anderson, associate professor and chair of the teacher education department.

“This new program is a way to combine aspects of those two existing programs into a single program.”

Last year, the Nebraska Department of Education evaluated and significantly changed teaching endorsement programs. This prompted UNK to evaluate its existing programs and make changes to meet the needs of students working to become teachers.

The new program allows students to obtain an endorsement in special education for grades kindergarten through 12th.

Many rural Nebraska schools can’t afford to employ two special educators for kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh through 12th grade. These smaller schools are in need of a special education teacher that has expertise in all grade levels.

About 20 students graduate from UNK each semester with an endorsement in special education.

“There’s no question in my mind that this will help serve a need,” Anderson said. “Given the grade level organization of schools in Nebraska, we can help meet that broad range of needs that is necessary in our schools.”

The new program has been approved by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, and is pending approval by Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education. The program is expected to launch in the fall of 2015.

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Source: Ken Anderson, 308.865.8971, andersonke@unk.edu
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, giboneys2@unk.edu

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