Master's Degree Field Experience
The Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas provides students with opportunities to gain experience in real world settings including classrooms and other service delivery models with children and youth with and without disabilities. Borrowing from the old adage that practice makes perfect, students are able to hone their teaching skills almost from the first semester in the master's program.
Provided here are descriptions of the field-based courses that prepare students for endorsement in the specialty areas of High Incidence (Adaptive Kansas Endorsement) and Low Incidence (Functional Kansas Endorsement). Students preparing to teach children and youth with autism typically complete one or more practicum experiences in autism as well as a practicum in the curriculum areas of High Incidence (Adaptive) or Low Incidence (Functional), as determined by the academic advisor. For information on these field experiences, contact Deborah Griswold, Ph.D., at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-864-0701.
Field experience courses are:
- SPED 772 Observation and Participation: High Incidence (Adaptive), Low Incidence (Functional) and Autism
- SPED 675 Practicum with Exceptional Children and Youth: Adaptive and Low Incidence (Functional)
- SPED 775 Practicum with Exceptional Children and Youth: High Incidence (Adaptive), Low Incidence (Functional) and Autism
- SPED 875 Advanced Practicum with Exceptional Children and Youth: High Incidence (Adaptive), Low Incidence (Functional) and Autism
Low Incidence (Functional- SID/Multiple Disabilities)
Provided here are descriptions of the field-based courses that prepare students for endorsement in the specialty area of Low Incidence (KSDE Functional).
SPED 772 is a field experience that is recommended for students who are new to the field of special education or to a particular specialty area such as moderate or severe and multiple disabilities.. Students in the Low Incidence (Functional)l area can take SPED 772 upon recommendation by their advisor. International students who would like to observe U.S. classrooms are also encouraged to enroll in this course after consulting with their advisor. The course requires 100 hours of teacher and related service provider observation in school or clinical settings. Students who enroll in this course participate with children and youth to the degree that they and the teacher or provider are willing and comfortable. Students who complete this course will: Gain exposure to different classroom or clinical settings, increase knowledge about the characteristics of children and youth with disabilities and develop impressions about the career path they intend to pursue relative to working with children and youth with disabilities
SPED 675 is a practicum experience for SOE Seniors who have taken SPED 326 and SPED 642. This practicum is designed to provide intense and direct teaching experiences with children and youth who need an adapted curriculum. These students may have sensory, learning and or behavioral challenges. This practicum must be completed under the supervision of a special education teacher who is qualified and licensed to teach in this area. Students are expected to demonstrate professional conduct, exhibit competency in their classroom teaching experience as well as completing portfolio assignments. This practicum is a requirement for provisional (2-year) endorsement according to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).
SPED 775 is a practicum experience for graduate students who are seeking an endorsement in the KS Low Incidence (Functional) area. The SPED 775 practicum is designed to provide intense and direct teaching experiences with children and youth who have moderate to severe sensory, learning and behavioral needs. This practicum must be completed under the supervision of a special education teacher who is qualified and licensed to teach in this area. Students are expected to demonstrate professional conduct, exhibit competency in their classroom teaching experience as well as completing portfolio assignments. This practicum is a requirement for provisional (2-year) endorsement according to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). if at the time of their enrollment a practicum student is teaching students in the functional area and is seeking provisional endorsement in the functional area they may request an on-the-job practicum. The Assistant Professor of Practice and the student's academic advisor will review this request and determine if an "on-the-job" experience is appropriate. In the Low Incidence (Functional-SID/Multiple Disabilities) area student may determine which practica will be “on the job”. One practicum must be completed with a mentor teacher in the same classroom and the other may be “on the job”.
SPED 875 is the advanced practicum experience. Graduate students who have completed their core courses and who are nearing the completion of their degree typically enroll in SPED 875 to obtain full endorsement. Most students will complete the 875 experience with a cooperating teacher. In some circumstances, individuals who are teaching in a classroom under provisional certification in the Low Incidence area may request permission to complete this practicum in his/her own classroom "on-the-job". The Assistant Professor of Practice and the student's academic advisor will review this request and determine if an "on-the-job" experience is appropriate. Students must demonstrate professional conduct, exhibit competency as a classroom teacher, and complete an action research requirement as well as practicum assignments.
Note: Most teachers who complete our special education programs will take a few additional graduate courses required to finish the Master's degree as well. The Master's degree is an important goal for many teachers and substantially increases teacher pay.
New Online Application Process for Kansas Licensure
All students completing initial licensure programs or adding endorsements (like Adaptive or Functional) to their current Kansas license must file the Form 1 application online with KSDE. Alisa Branham, KU Licensure Officer, has posted detailed instructions for this new process at the School of Education website under "Licensure." If you have any questions, please contact Alisa directly at email@example.com.
The "Licensure" portion of the School of Education web site includes FAQS, information regarding licensure exams, information on the KPA (Kansas Performance Assessment), and information on how to renew a Kansas license. It's a good central source for School of Education students and alumni.
Other applications will continue to require the hardcopy forms but eventually KSDE hopes to have all forms online.
Types of Special Education Licensure in Kansas
There are three specific types of licensure: Conditional, Provisional and Waiver. If you have any questions, you can contact Alisa Branham, KU Licensure Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-864-9602; the School of Education web site licensure page; and the Kansas State Department of Education site.
Two-year Initial License
After the student has completed all courses in a program and passed the PRAXIS Subject Exam, the student may apply for a Conditional License. Alisa Branham encourages students to contact her for a conditional license application during the last semester of their program. Information on Subject Exams is posted at the School of Education web site under Licensure Exams.
Two-year Provisional License in Kansas
Teachers in Kansas may be recommended for a provisional license by meeting three criteria. The teacher must be a licensed in regular education. Second, the teacher must have a job offer in a public school setting in Kansas that requires the special education license. Third, the teacher must have completed at least three initial courses in the Department of Special Education Master's degree program in the specific area requested: a characteristics course, a specific methods course, and a first practicum. A provisional license is effective for two years during which time most students can complete the remaining five to six courses in the program. If necessary, students may apply for a second provisional to complete all requirements while working as a special educator.
If a licensed elementary or secondary education teacher in Kansas has been offered a special education job but has not yet completed the three courses required for the Provisional license, a temporary waiver is possible. However, the teacher must have a current Kansas license, be admitted to KU, and be enrolled in at least one course. Contact the KU Licensure Officer Alisa Branham for waiver instructions if necessary. KSDE deadlines for receiving waiver applications from schools are November 1 and February 1. Most "plan of study" letters are composed in late August and late January.
Putting Your Master's Degree To Work
To obtain a Special Education Low Incidence Endorsement, one must hold a current general education license (early childhood, elementary, or secondary). Students can obtain a Master's degree or may study for endorsement only (non-degree). View Low-Incidence Disabilities M.S.E. program requirements for required courses and more information.