Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I don't pass or complete a prerequisite course, or pass the basic skills examination before the program begins?
You will jeopardize your provisional acceptance into the incoming SPED cohort.
How do I change my status from post-baccalaureate or "provisional" to full-admission?
You will receive full admission status upon completion of all prerequisite coursework and required tests. It is your responsibility to make sure that transcripts and test results are provided to the School of Education’s Admissions Administrator, who maintains your official files.
Is there a deadline for completing the prerequisite coursework and required tests?
All prerequisite courses and testing must be completed by the beginning of the program in June.
What is an authorization level?
When you complete the Special Education Program, the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) will issue you a license that authorizes you to teach at stipulated grade levels. The levels are early childhood/elementary (K through 8th grade) and middle school/high school (5th grade through 12th grade). Moreover, you will be able to teach across categories (mild, moderate, severe needs) at the specific grade level. You will have the opportunity to add the contiguous authorization level once you have completed the SPED program.
Can I change my authorization level?
You will have the first summer session to reconsider you authorization level. Once field experiences begin with September Experience, you are committed to that authorization level.
How will I be assessed?
You will receive regular feedback on your performance both in your coursework and your field experience. You will be assessed through course assignments, class participation, performance tasks, action research, and demonstration of teaching proficiencies. It is important to note that your professional conduct is evaluated by all those you encounter. This is the time to begin crafting your professional reputation.
What is expected regarding attendance?
Attendance in all classes, field experiences, meetings, and announced events is required. In cases of emergency absence, candidates must contact their instructors and mentor teacher as soon as possible. In the case of planned absences, you should notify your instructors and mentor teacher well in advance of the absence. In the case of any absence from courses, you are responsible for completing assignments; arrangements must be made with the course instructor on how this will be accomplished.
Should I keep my job during the program?
This is a decision that only you can make. However, most candidates find that the time required for completing course assignments, coupled with field experience expectations, leaves little room for additional outside responsibilities such as maintaining a job or coaching a sport. You may wish to talk to former SPED candidates to get their perspective based on their experience in the program.
Can I choose my school and/or mentor teacher for my field placements?
No. The program coordinator and faculty will make the arrangements for your field placements. The placement in the public schools entails close teamwork between the university and the public schools. Principals have many factors to consider when inviting candidates into their buildings. You will be allowed to request a specific school or district; however, final placements will be made by the program coordinator and faculty. Please do not contact principals or teachers regarding placement. In addition to requesting a specific placement, you will also be asked which categorical area (mild/moderate or severe needs) you would prefer to focus on during your practica experiences.
When will I know about my placements?
The SPED faculty attempt to get placements made in a timely manner to allow you the opportunity to meet with your prospective mentor teacher prior to the time you begin the actual assignment. Optimally, this gives you a week or two to make contact and get acquainted. Occasionally, placements may be made at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. The important thing for you to remember is that we all want you to have the very best experience possible.
What are the time requirements for teaching?
Although you will participate in four field experiences throughout the program, actual "student teaching" does not occur until Winter term. For some courses, "lab" experiences are included. The actual time requirements for each experience is provided below. The schedule below gives a general overview of the year; however, individual schedules may vary.
All day every day (90 hours)
A minimum of 25 hours per week
A minimum of 35 hours per week
Full day every day
How do I know if I am "on track" in my field experience? Who will do my formal observations?
Each term you will meet with your university supervisor and mentor teacher in three-way conferences at the beginning of the term, mid-term and end of the term to discuss expectations and your progress toward meeting the required proficiencies. Formal observations will be conducted by your supervisor and mentor teacher. As a rule, university supervisors will observe you a minimum of three times during the fall, winter and spring experiences. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to engage in peer coaching, in which you work with a cohort member in their and your field setting.
What is a "work sample"?
A work sample is a specific project required by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) for licensure. Stand-Alone candidates are required to develop, implement, and submit for evaluation a work sample in assessment practices and individualized instruction (Case Study) and one in designing and implement instruction for groups of students (Group Instruction).
What is action research?
Mills (2000) defines action research as "any systematic inquiry conducted by teacher researchers" to find out more about how they teach and how their students learn. The goal is to effect positive changes in the school environment. You should consider teaching itself as "action research." In the Special Education Program you will use the action research process in the development and implementation of the work samples.
How do I begin now to prepare for job applications?
First of all, the best way to prepare for job applications is to behave professionally at all times. Everything you do is observed by faculty, school personnel, and peers--all of who may eventually be in a position to recommend you for employment. Begin thinking about your resume, philosophy of education, and long range goals. Refine these as the year progresses and you acquire new information and perspectives.
How/when do I get letters of recommendation for job applications?
Candidates usually begin preparing their application materials in early March. An appropriate method for asking people to write letters for you is to request to your mentor teacher, supervisor, and other professionals who have seen you teach. In your request you should include a description of the position you are seeking, topics you would like to have the writer emphasize about you, the address and title of the individual to whom the letter should be addressed, and the date when you need the letter. Please give the person several weeks notice before you want the letter. It is always a pleasure to write a recommendation for candidates who exemplify professional characteristics. If you are asking an adjunct faculty member to write a letter, request it at the end of the term in which you were working with the adjunct. Be sure to handwrite a personal thank you note to each person.