During the 2014-2015 school year, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement in Georgia reported 228,000 students with a disability — 11 percent of the student population. However, not all students with a disability received services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). And not all students without a disability were exempt from IDEA.
The Need for More Qualified Special Education Teachers in Georgia
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, IDEA applied to only 18,000 Georgia students between 2014 and 2015. There could be many reasons for the difference in the number of students with disabilities and those served by IDEA. Still, the large disparity may indicate a need for additional well-qualified special education teachers. Furthermore, some students may not be receiving the services they need. Special education teachers can help identify these students.
A report from the U.S. Department of Education assigns one of four categories to each state on its efforts to implement IDEA. These categories are as follows:
- Meets requirements.
- Needs assistance (one year).
- Needs assistance (two or more consecutive years).
- Needs intervention.
The Department of Education indicates that Georgia needs assistance (two or more consecutive years). The need for assistance presents an opportunity for general classroom and special education teachers who would like to effect change. Those looking to pursue this opportunity and work with diverse learning needs may want to earn a Master of Education in Special Education.
How to Become a Highly Qualified Special Education Teacher
Teachers who complete an M.Ed. in Special Education gain in-depth knowledge that they can use to help students thrive. The degree could also lead to new careers working as an intervention specialist, curriculum specialist or administrator. All of these roles provide opportunities to enhance the special education program and provide IDEA support in Georgia.
Teachers who continue working while pursuing their master’s degree have the benefit of putting the new knowledge to work right away. However, it may be a challenge to balance a job, personal life and coursework. Enrolling in an online program offers a viable solution to degree seekers facing this challenge. Such a program allows students to work at their own pace and when it fits their schedules. They do not have to try to get to class at a set time or lose valuable time commuting.
Georgia teachers may want to look into Columbus State University’s online M.Ed. in Special Education. Although courses are online, teachers will be able to get the knowledge and proficiency specific to Georgia. Programs in other states will likely not cover education requirements specific to Georgia. Moreover, students can expect a high quality education as Columbus State ranks No. 45 in U.S. News and World Report‘s Top Public Schools list.
A student taking one class at a time in this 100-percent online program can complete the program in 24 months. Earning the degree requires students to take 13 courses worth 36 credit hours. Since every session runs for seven weeks, students have multiple options for a start date.
Earning an M.Ed. degree through an online program is as valuable as completing the program on campus. In both cases, students earn a degree from a well-respected and highly ranked university.
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