Division of Education Responds to Critical Need for Special Education Teachers

UH West Oʻahu students listen to presentation

UH West Oʻahu’s Division of Education is responding to the State of Hawaiʻi’s critical need for Special Education (SPED) teachers by offering a SPED “Add a Field” licensure pathway to Bachelor of Education Teacher Candidates. The teacher shortage is especially acute in the Hawai‘i Department of Education’s Leeward District, where 28 of Oʻahu’s 69 vacant Special Education teacher positions were left open in 2017.

According to Assistant Professor Gloria Niles, “The goal is to provide highly qualified teachers who are licensed in both general education and Special Education.” Dr. Niles joined UH West Oʻahu in 2015 to help the university develop and implement this much needed program of study.

Dr. Gloria Niles

Candidates pursuing a teaching license in Elementary (K-6), Middle-level (6-8), and Secondary (6-12) programs now have the option to add the field of Special Education via a 15-credit sequence of courses, taken in addition to the candidateʻs general education curriculum. Six credits are completed during fall and spring semesters, with the remaining 9 credits taken during summer school.

The program culminates in a 15-week, full-time professional student teaching semester with seminar. Candidates pursuing a Special Education teaching license will divide their student teaching between their general education area of concentration and special education. Field placements occur in schools island-wide and especially in Central and Leeward O‘ahu and on the Wai‘anae Coast.

Teacher candidates who successfully complete their Bachelor of Education requirements and those for Special Education will be recommended to the Hawai‘i Teacher Standards Board for licensure in their chosen area of concentration and licensure in Special Education at the corresponding grade level.

Education students opting for the new Special Education pathway also may qualify for tuition assistance, if they meet certain academic eligibility and commit to teaching as a Special Education teacher for the Hawaiʻi DOE for a minimum of three years after licensure. The assistance at the Resident Tuition rate will help offset some of the added costs of taking extra courses. For additional information about the tuition assistance, contact Dr. Gloria Niles at gniles@hawaii.edu.

More information regarding the Division of Education and Special Education offerings can be found in UH West Oʻahu’s 2017-2018 General Catalog, which can be downloaded here. Information about the Division of Education begins on Page 68.

Images courtesy of UHWO Staff and UWHO Staff