May 30, 2024  
Undergraduate Catalog 2017-18 
Undergraduate Catalog 2017-18 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Education and Literacy Studies

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Regena Fails Nelson, Interim Chair
Main Office:  3506 Sangren Hall
Telephone:  (269) 387-5935
Fax:  (269) 387-5703

Kristal Ehrhardt
Esther Gray
Daniel Morgan
Susan Piazza
Selena Protacio
Shaila Rao
Deanna Roland
Sarah Summy
Luchara Wallace
Elizabeth Whitten

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. Literacy studies faculty offer a master’s program that leads to the Reading Specialist Endorsement K-12, oversee the language arts major for elementary education program, and provide an English as a Second Language (ESL) graduate certificate program. This instruction integrates teaching literacy and language development throughout the curriculum and across the the educational continuum. Within each program area, faculty are engaged in research initiatives that enhance student learning and school/community engagement.

Special Education

Students who desire to major in Special Education will be admitted to the pre-education curriculum of the College of Education and Human Development. 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 February 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 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 and Human Development Pre-Education Curriculum or equivalent transfer.
  2. Attainment of junior status (at least 56 semester hours completed by commencement of the program).
  3. Attainment of a minimum 3.0 grade point average.
  4. Achievement of passing scores on the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) - Professional Readiness Exam.
  5. Completion of a letter of intent for admission into the program including professional goals and explaining why a special education degree is sought.
  6. Submission of an application for admission to the Special Education Professional Education Curriculum by the announced date.
  7. Completion of Criminal background check.

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

  1. Grade point average at the time of application
  2. Semester hours completed
  3. Letter of intent
  4. Personal interview with faculty
  5. Writing sample taken at the interview

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 College of Education and Human Development staff advisors and Special Education faculty provide 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 and Human Development advisors and Special Education advisors early in their college careers.

Intern Teaching
Students complete internships in General (Elementary) Eduction, Learning Disabilities, and Emotional Impairments. Special Education Intern teaching placement is made only within prescribed areas in Southwest Michigan or in Europe. Intern Teaching placement in or near home school districts should not be anticipated or expected.

Special Education Curricula

Bachelor of Science

State Elementary Provisional Certificate
Minimum Hours Required 151-152 hours


Baccalaureate-Level Writing Requirement

Students who have chosen the Special Education Curriculum will satisfy the Baccalaureate-Level Writing Requirement by successfully completing SPED 3300 - Foundations of Special Education, which is included in the curriculum requirements for each of the special education endorsements.


Endorsement Areas

Students who have chosen the Special Education curriculum will complete an endorsement in Learning Disabilities and in Emotional Impairments.

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