How Special Education Works in Washington State

The online Master of Education (M.Ed.) – Special Education (SPED) program from Eastern Washington University (EWU) prepares students to significantly impact the lives of students with disabilities in the state of Washington. This online program offers a variety of career paths beyond traditional classroom teaching.

Graduates can become special education coordinators and guide entire programs. They can also focus on behavior with roles as intervention specialists, lead teachers as instructional coaches, or advise schools and districts as educational consultants. In all these paths, graduates use their knowledge to help students, work alongside educators and advocate for inclusive learning environments throughout schools and communities.

Staying up to date with developments in special education is important for Washington educators. Valuable resources like the Seattle Times cover current events in the field, covering everything from recent policy changes and advocacy efforts to the firsthand experiences of students with disabilities and their families. This well-rounded perspective goes beyond policy updates: it encourages empathy and understanding.

Knowing the intricacies of Section 504 regulations, as outlined by the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), enables educators to provide the appropriate accommodations to a wider range of students. This ensures that even students who don’t meet the criteria for individualized education programs (IEPs) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can still access the support they need to succeed in school. Staying informed empowers educators to create inclusive learning environments that benefit all students.

Beyond the Classroom: Career Paths in SPED

An online M.Ed. in SPED opens doors to many types of rewarding careers, including the following:

  • Special education teacher. Special education teachers directly design and implement IEPs for students with diverse disabilities.
  • Learning specialist. These professionals collaborate with teachers to develop and use learning strategies for students with learning challenges.
  • Educational diagnostician. Educational diagnosticians conduct evaluations to identify learning disabilities and recommend appropriate interventions.
  • Behavior specialist. These specialists develop and carry out behavior plans to address students’ social-emotional needs.
  • Assistive technology specialist. Assistive technology specialists provide students with technology tools to enhance their learning and communication.
  • Program specialist. These professionals work within school districts to develop and oversee special education programs.

The IEP forms the foundation of special education in Washington. EWU’s Special Education Law, IEP Development & Collaboration course prepares educators to write legal IEPs, including transition plans, using best practices. It emphasizes collaboration among students, educators, parents and the community.

The Fundamentals of Special Education course explores the different services available, the laws that govern them and how special education came about. It compares various teaching methods and delves into the causes and characteristics of disabilities.

The Role of the Special Education Teacher

Special educators wear many hats, often filling the following roles:

  • Expert instructors: design engaging and effective lessons tailored to individual learning styles
  • Data analysts: monitor student learning and adapt teaching methods to ensure their success
  • Communication supporters: work together with parents, educators and other specialists to support students
  • Advocates: ensure students with disabilities can access the resources and support they need to thrive

EWU: Preparing Students for Success

For those interested in pursuing an advanced education degree in special education, EWU’s online M.Ed. – SPED program offers flexibility and convenience without compromising quality. The program emphasizes evidence-based practices, practical experience and ongoing support, preparing graduates to make a meaningful difference in the lives of students with exceptional needs across Washington. By enrolling in EWU’s program, educators can start on their journey toward a fulfilling and successful career in special education.

Learn more about EWU’s online Master of Education – Special Education program.

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