Partnership Aims to Strengthen Indiana's Special Education Teacher Pipeline
Monday, November 8, 2021
Deputy Director of Communications
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education today announced a partnership with the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) to strengthen Indiana’s special education teacher pipeline, with a focus on supporting special education teachers as they work to earn full licensure.
“Indiana’s educators are difference-makers for our students, and we need more of these difference-makers in our classrooms. That’s especially the case in high-need areas like special education,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “Through this initiative, statewide partners are coming together to provide Indiana’s current and future special education educators with access to convenient, accelerated options and key financial support, so that they, in turn, can continue supporting our Hoosier students daily.”
The new partnership, called Indiana Special Education Assisted Licensure (I-SEAL), streamlines the required coursework for teachers to earn full special education licensure. I-SEAL also provides financial assistance and scholarships to educators while they complete these requirements.
- For educators licensed in another subject: Currently-licensed teachers who wish to add special education to their existing license can participate in a fully-funded 18-credit hour graduate program through the University of Indianapolis, Taylor University or Indiana Wesleyan University.
- For individuals currently enrolled in a special education preparation program: Individuals who are currently enrolled in a special education teacher preparation program can earn scholarship assistance to support the completion of their required special education coursework and purchase textbooks.
- For non-education bachelor’s degree holders: Special education educators who have not earned full licensure but hold a non-education bachelor’s degree can receive a full scholarship to enroll in a federally-compliant Transition to Teaching program. Seven Transition to Teaching programs in special education are currently available across Indiana.
- For individuals who have not yet passed the state licensing exam: Individuals who have completed a special education preparation program but have not yet passed the state licensure exam can participate in a free test-preparation workshop.
Upon completion of an educator preparation program, a Transition to Teaching program or an I-SEAL graduate program, individuals will be eligible for a special education license once they have passed all required state licensing exams.
“In response to this rapidly growing shortage of special education teachers in schools, we’ve created a program that offers direct assistance to teachers, schools and principals,” said Carey Dahncke, executive director of CELL. “This program helps to train and license teachers who work with our state’s students with special needs. And, what makes this program unique, is that there is no cost to the schools or the teachers. We’ve streamlined the processes, so prospective special education teachers can accelerate their entry into the workplace, while working directly with the students who are most in need."
I-SEAL is funded through $2 million from Indiana’s federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II funding and Part B of Indiana’s Individuals with Disabilities Act funding.
This program launches following the Indiana State Board of Education’s initial approval in October of an alternate route license in special education that will allow teachers to stay in the classroom while completing licensing requirements. The new rules, in compliance with federal requirements, create a three-year alternative route license requiring an educator to hold a bachelor’s degree, be employed by a school and be enrolled in an approved alternative education program. Over these three years, the educator will have time to complete a professional educator special education license or a special education addition to their existing educator license.
Indiana special education educators currently teaching on an emergency permit may be issued an alternative route license if they are working toward completing licensure requirements in an approved alternative program. In alignment with federal requirements, one-year emergency permits will no longer be issued following the end of the current school year (2021-2022).
Eligible individuals can learn more and apply for assistance by visiting IndianaSEAL.org.