Master of Education in Education: Special Education K-12

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The Master of Education in Education: Special Education (K-12) is for earning initial licensure in teaching Special Education K-12.

As a special education teacher, you can make a substantial impact on the lives of others. You will be in a position to help students celebrate the small victories that will lead to greater success and unlock their full potential. Teaching special and exceptional learners also means advocating for the students and their particular needs. You’ll have the opportunity to work with other educators, parents, and health professionals to find resources that meet the educational needs of these unique students.

Our students will be exposed to the legal and social tenets of delivering services in special instructional settings. They will learn to deliver and interpret assessment data for the purposes of eligibility determination. Our program also includes developing competencies in instructional design and program evaluation.

Job Security and Opportunities for Advancement

Special education continues to be reported by the Arkansas Department of Education as a shortage area for teachers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of special education teachers is expected to increase 4% by 2024. In addition, having a specialization in special education will make you a more marketable candidate for other teaching positions.


Admission Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.75 (4.0 scale), OR
  • GPA of at least 3.0 for the last 60 hours of undergraduate courses, OR
  • Master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0
  • Submit required entrance exam scores in reading, writing, and math
  • Candidates will exit the program with an initial or standard license in special education and a master’s degree
  • Admitted to the UA Little Rock Graduate School

The UA Little Rock graduate level, first-time licensure programs (M.Ed. in Education for all all content areas, middle childhood, and special education licensure tracks, and the Graduate Certificate in Education) will accept as an admission exam these ACT scores at or above a minimum:

  • Math 19
  • Reading 19
  • Writing 6 or English/Writing combined 19

If an individual has taken the ACT multiple times, we will consider the highest score in each category from those multiple exams. Please read the admission requirements for more information about ACT and SAT scores.

Licensure and Field Placement Requirements

To be eligible for a provisional teaching license for Special Education K-12 in Arkansas, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Be fully admitted to the UA Little Rock Graduate School and in good standing in an educational program of study.
  • Continually take classes in their program of study
  • Submit required entrance exam scores in reading, writing, and math.
  • Pass the Praxis II Content Subject Assessments and required for the Special Education licensure area
  • Have successfully completed the state approved Special Education 101 course (our SPED 7301 course) and one more special education course prior to applying for provisional license
  • Complete the online ProEthica requirement
  • Complete and clear background checks (State Police, FBI, and Child Maltreatment Central Registry)
  • Complete the application for the provisional license
  • Receive a viable job offer to teach in special education K-12 at a site approved by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE)
  • Meet any other licensure requirements for their chosen licensure area as required by the ADE

Students who do not meet the above criteria must complete traditional field placements and an internship in a cooperating teacher’s classroom during normal school hours.


Graduation Requirements

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on an approved program of study as outlined in the emphasis section
  • All candidates must satisfy the specific common core competencies for special education along with performance standards established for the specialty professional association (CEC).
  • Prepare and present a proficient or above proficient exit portfolio of scholarship.
  • Passing scores on all Praxis II examinations required by the Arkansas Department of Education for Middle School Education

Special Education Course Descriptions

Special Education Courses

SPED 5303 Assistive Technology in Special Education
Prerequisite: Successful completion of the Teacher Education Block. This course will prepare teachers to respond to individuals’ functional needs in order to enhance access to the general or special education curricula. Candidates will identify and assess how to evaluate, select and use both hardware and software for the purposes of enhancing instruction, assist students with school-related tasks, help students communicate and help students function better in their environment. Three credit hours.

SPED 5312 Medical Problems in Child Development
The primary concern of the course is to review medical conditions and events arising during prenatal, postnatal and early childhood which contribute to the nature and cause of major educational disabilities. Special attention is given to syndromes associated with mental retardation, disorders of the central nervous system, infections disease, and a wide range of conditions placing children at risk for developmental delays. Emphasis is directed toward early medical identification, prevention of secondary disabilities, and strategies for responding to chronic health conditions in educational settings. Guest lectures by physicians and other health related professionals are an integral part of the course. Three credit hours.

SPED 5326 Assessment in Special Education
This course addresses assessment strategies for K-12 special education. A specific focus will be given to the principles of assessment. Various aspects of the learning environment are examined and procedures for gathering assessment data are explored. The general goal of this course is to develop competencies in assessment. Candidates will use content from foundational knowledge and skill related to the characteristics of disability and ways to identify disability. Major emphasis will focus on assessment for eligibility for special educational services. Specific emphasis will be placed upon developing skills to observe learners for disabilities, identify and evaluate relevant formal and informal assessment strategies that contribute to the identification, placement and instructional planning for students with learning problems in both early and school age populations. Candidates will learn to identify the needs of children related to health and/or sensory impairments, the identification of abilities in the developmental domains along various age groups. Prerequisites: SPED 7301 or equivalent.

SPED 5328 Teaching Content in Special Education
The purpose of the course is to provide students with the basic understanding of the legal and ethical issues that impact assessment, eligibility, placement, and delivery of services of students with disabilities. The focus will be on the due process procedures and elements of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) necessary for successful teaching of students with disabilities as found in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Three credit hours.

SPED 5343 Disability Law
The general goals of this course are to expand upon the knowledge and skills developed in previous assessment coursework and field experiences. The knowledge will be enfolded into individualized instructional design for students with various learning problems. Candidates will use assessment data to design instruction in general academic content. Additionally, students will identify strategies to modify and adapt the curriculum for delivery in inclusive settings. Candidates will align instruction to Common Core standards, use evidence-based best practices to individualize instruction, and design curriculum based assessments. Three credit hours.

SPED 7301 Foundations in Special Education
This course surveys the foundations of educational programs for students with disabilities, emphasizing the historical, philosophical, and legal aspects of special education. Course work includes surveys of the characteristics and needs of students with various disabilities.

SPED 5311 OR SPED 7305 Managing the Learning Environment
Theory, research, and application for behavioral management. Current issues and research in applied behavioral analysis and other forms of classroom management; cognitive behavioral and emerging management procedures, emphasis on application of research. Three credit hours.

Teacher Education Courses

TCED 5321 Teaching Diverse Learners
Teacher candidates use basic concepts of learner development and cultural diversity to design lessons and to select and use teaching materials and techniques to meet the needs of students at different developmental stages and of different cultures. Three credit hours.

TCED 5330 – Classroom Management
Emphasizes creation of and fostering of classroom management techniques and strategies for the design of environments that are conducive to a safe place for teaching and learning. Includes connecting the school-home-community connections. Incorporates technology for learning and teaching. Candidates will have taken or passed Praxis CORE prior to course. Students with credit for TCED 4330 cannot take this course for credit. Three credit hours.

TCED 5383 – Instructional Skills
This course provides knowledge of instructional skills, assessment, and disciplinary literacy. Lesson planning and design, evaluation, equity, legal issues, technology implementation, and content area literacy strategies will be addressed. Includes a field component of 15 hours individualized or small group instruction/support in a K-12 classroom setting under the supervision of a cooperating teacher. Students with credit for TCED 4383 may take TCED 5383 for credit. Three credit hours.


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