Feb 01, 2023  
Undergraduate Catalog 2009-10 
Undergraduate Catalog 2009-10 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Education and Literacy Studies

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Daniel Morgan, Chair
Main Office:  3506 Sangren Hall
Telephone:  (269) 387-5935
Fax:  (269) 387-5703

Allison Baer
Kristal Ehrhardt
Lauren Freeman
Esther Gray
George Haus
Jill Hermann-Wilmarth
Paula Kohler
Susan Piazza
Shaila Rao
Sarah Summy
Karen Thomas
Luchara Wallace
Elizabeth Whitten
Paul T. Wilson

The Department of Special Education and Literacy Studies (SPLS) offers undergraduate and graduate programs focused on preparation of educational professionals with expertise in meeting the needs of K-12 students with diverse abilities. Special education faculty offer a number of program options at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels with an emphasis on the application of research-generated practices to improve students’ educational and post-school outcomes. In addition to offering a master’s program that leads to the Reading Specialist Endorsement K-12, the Literacy faculty provide significant instruction to all WMU elementary and secondary education majors. This instructions integrates teaching reading and literacy development throughout the curriculum and across the the educational continuum. Within each program area, faculty are engaged in research initiatives that enhance both student engagement and learning. Thought the Dorothy J. McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic and the Career Connections Research Center, SPLS faculty provide opportunities for WMU students to participate in experimental learning.

Special Education

Students who desire to major in Special Education must be admitted to the pre-education curriculum of the College of Education. This status, however, does not assure admission to the Professional Education Curriculum of the department. The selection of students to the Professional Education Curriculum in Special Education occurs in January each year after review of all applications by a departmental faculty committee.

Each year the Special Education program establishes the maximum number of new students who can be admitted to each of the special education curricula for the following year. The minimum criteria for admission consideration include:

  1. Completion of the Western Michigan University College of Education Pre-Education Curriculum.
  2. Attainment of junior status (at least 56 semester hours completed or in process at the time of application).
  3. Attainment of a minimum 2.5 grade point average. 
  4. Achievement of passing scores on the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) - Basic Skills Section.
  5. Completion of a minimum of 30 clock hours of documented contact with a person(s) with disabilities. Students must contact the department to secure the appropriate forms for documenting this experience or to secure assistance in meeting this requirement.
  6. Submission of an application for admission to the Special Education Professional Education Curriculum by the announced date.

All completed applications will be evaluated using the following specific criteria:

  1. Forty percent weighting based on grade point average at the time of application.
  2. Thirty percent weighting based on performance on the Basic Skills Test (state required literacy test).
  3. Thirty percent weightings for semester hours completed, student essay, and other (subjective) criteria.

Students selected for admission will comprise a cohort which will begin taking courses in the Special Education sequence the following fall semester. Courses must be taken in the prescribed sequence. Six semesters (course work plus intern teaching) are required to complete the Professional Curriculum in Special Education.

Further information regarding admission requirements and procedures may be obtained by directly contacting the department.

The department provides advising to all students who wish to major in Special Education, whether or not they are currently enrolled in the department’s curricula. Students are expected to meet with College of Education advisors and Special Education advisors early in their college careers.

Intern Teaching
Students complete three, ten-week intern teaching assignments, one in General Education, one in Learning Disabilities, and one in Emotional Impairments or Cognitive Impairments. Intern teaching placement is made only within prescribed areas in Southwest Michigan and Germany. Intern Teaching placement in or near home school districts should not be anticipated or expected.

Special Education Curricula

Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts

State Elementary Provisional Certificate
Minimum Hours Required 130 hours

University General Education Requirement (40 hours)

The University General Education Requirement is 37 hours. An additional three hours in General Education courses from the College of Arts and Sciences (nonprofessional courses only) are required for Michigan certification.

Baccalaureate-Level Writing Requirement

Students who have chosen the Special Education Curriculum will satisfy the Baccalaureate-Level Writing Requirement by successfully completing ES 3950: School and Society, which is included in the curriculum requirements for each of the special education endorsements.

Academic Minor (20-24 hours)

Students may select from any minors approved for elementary or secondary education except for Integrative Creative Arts and Early Childhood Education. These latter two minors may be selected as a second minor. 

Endorsement Major

Students who have chosen the Special Education curriculum will complete one of two endorsement majors; the requirements for each are listed in the endorsement programs. 

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