SPED 360 provides an evidence-based approach to special education teacher preparation in the state of Utah. The program promotes excellence through Westminster College’s efforts to prepare high-quality special educators and address the current teacher shortage.
- Teacher candidates are employed part or full time (e.g., paraprofessionals with bachelor's degrees) while taking college courses in the evening.
- The program provides an accelerated path to teaching requiring only one year to complete all coursework and field experiences (fall, spring, and summer semesters).
- Teacher candidates receive extensive clinical practice with students in schools with coaching and feedback from mentor teachers and college supervisors.
- Increased time in the classroom helps prepare candidates for success in their first year of teaching.
- Participation in the program gives LEAs early access to highly-quality special educators.
Dr. Lowell K. Oswald, Westminster College School of Education
To qualify for the program, interested paraprofessionals must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and must be currently working with students with mild-moderate or severe disabilities. Candidates are nominated by their school district or charter school administrators, and names are forwarded to the special education program director, Dr. Lowell K. Oswald. Selection criteria include prior classroom experience, submission of a short essay outlining reasons for desiring to become a special educator, and an interview. Meeting these requirements qualifies an applicant to be considered for admission. Each candidate’s progress will be carefully monitored by special education faculty and the field placement director.
Candidates will be required to pass three courses per semester, including summer, for three consecutive semesters. Teacher candidates are more likely to be effective and to stay in the profession when their preparation experiences are connected to classroom practice (Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2009; Ronfeldt, 2012). Therefore, the emphasis of SPED 360 is on ensuring candidates have quality clinical experiences early and often. Candidates receive practice opportunities within both coursework and field experiences that are explicitly aligned to the Utah Effective Teaching Standards and Council for Exceptional Children’s high-leverage teaching practices. It is anticipated that most candidates will need to complete the entire licensure program.
Required Coursework and Timeline to Complete the Program
First Fall Semester
- MAT 605 Diversity and Learning (hybrid course)
- MAT 672 Methods of Instruction and Curriculum for 7–12 SPED (fieldwork required)
- MAT 674 Behavioral Supports in SPED (fieldwork required)
- MAT 675 Instructional and Assistive Technology (hybrid course)
- MAT 671 Methods of Instruction and Curriculum for K–6 SPED (fieldwork required)
- MAT 673 Principles and Applications of SPED Assessment
- MAT 622 Secondary Math Methods
- MAT 631 Elementary Math Methods
- MAT 677 Reading Clinic (Fieldwork Required)
Final Fall Semester
- MAT 676 Student Teaching/Internship