Program Overview

Every person has value in our world, no matter what his or her ability level. In addition, each child in the United States is entitled to an education suited to his or her needs. Whether integrated into general education classrooms, learning in specialized facilities or a combination of both, everyone deserves to reach his or her full potential. If you care about people with different abilities, helping these students succeed is one of the most rewarding careers available.

UW-Stout’s Special Education program prepares you to teach students across categories of disabilities including learning, cognitive, emotional and behavioral. Certification means you’ll be qualified to teach students from kindergarten through adolescence, which includes ages 5 through 21.

As a special educator, your mission is to both advocate for your students and their families while providing an appropriate level education for each student’s ability. To succeed, you’ll need to know how to assess the characteristics of the learners you serve, design effective teaching strategies, and develop the right attitude to practice within established standards.

Increasingly, students with disabilities have been integrated into general education settings. Their education is usually supplemented by support services provided by a special education case manager. As a special education teacher, you must possess a working knowledge of all general education curriculum subjects and content. You’ll work with general education teachers to:

  • Develop lesson plans, materials, tests and access student learning

  • Adapt curriculum to be appropriate for each student

  • Teach specific learning strategies and study skills

The special education teacher responsibilities also include:

  • Assessment

  • Developing individual education and transition plans

  • Working with families and other support services

As a graduate of this program you’ll be eligible to receive a Wisconsin teaching license in cross-categorical special education.

Preparing for UW-Stout

A college preparatory background is recommended if you are interested in the special education program. English, science, mathematics, social studies, art and music are important as these areas are all included in teaching children and young adults.

Starting Out

Your coursework is arranged so that special education courses can be taken at the same time as general education requirements. General education courses include English composition, speech, psychology, history, biology and math. Faculty members are highly qualified and eager to help you with course and career choices. Help also is available through the Advisement and Career Centers, the Counseling Center and Career Services.

As You Progress

The curriculum includes courses in:

  • Educational psychology

  • Multiculturalism

  • Classroom management

  • Vocational evaluation

  • Behavioral intervention in schools

  • School, family and community collaboration

You’ll also develop techniques used to teach across categories of disabilities, including cognitive, emotional, behavioral and learning disabilities. Completing a variety of field experiences – from your sophomore year through to a full semester of student teaching – will give you the experience you need to succeed. Special education faculty and students also regularly engage in outreach service and collaboration within the region and state.

Rewarding Careers

Graduates from 2014-15 achieved a 100 percent employment rate. Starting salaries of 2014–2015 graduates averaged $38,000. These contracts are for an academic school year and do not usually include the summer months. 

According to the 2014–15 Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, "Employment of special education teachers is projected to grow six percent from 2012 to 2022. … Employment growth will be driven by continued demand for special education services. Many job opportunities will stem from the need to replace teachers who leave the occupation."

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