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UW-Oshkosh, St. Norbert College Team Up To Offer Special Education Certification

UW-Oshkosh Offering Online Classes To St. Norbert College Students

St. Norbert College
St. Norbert College (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is extending its online courses to another college with the hopes of licensing more special education teachers.

Starting this fall, UW-Oshkosh will partner with St. Norbert College in De Pere to offer the special education certification to students enrolled in St. Norbert College’s education program. The university already has such an agreement with Northland College in Ashland.

A special education license requires intense coursework, including 100 hours of practicum in the classroom in addition to similar requirements for an education degree.

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The coursework is one reason special education teachers are hard to come by in the United States and Wisconsin, said Tynisha Meidl, co-chair of St. Norbert College’s education program.

The partnership with UW-Oshkosh will let students get their special education certification along with their regular education degree, Meidl said. Beginning their junior year, students register for the special education courses at St. Norbert College but take the online classes from UW-Oshkosh, according to St. Norbert College’s website.

The program will start with a “handful” of students this fall, but is expected to grow, Meidl said.

“As students come in their first year, we’re asking that they identify if they are interested so we can begin to follow them through so we can keep them on track to graduate in four years,” Meidl said.

Because of the shortage of special educators, Wisconsin issues 350 emergency licenses each year to those who haven’t met the licensure guidelines. That’s why UW-Oshkosh made the move to offer the licensure program online to students at small, private schools.

“A lot of teachers will acquire additional licenses and move off into elementary or secondary, middle school areas,” said Fred Yeo, UW-Oshkosh’s College of Education and Human Services Dean. “So there’s a turnover in special education that is not representative in some of the other areas.”

Special educators work with students who have a range of disabilities including physical, cognitive and behavioral issues.