Special education degree ranked among the best in country

Special Education Program

Best Education Degrees, the leading guide to educational careers and colleges, rates Bloomsburg University 23rd in the country in its latest ranking of the 25 Best bachelor's degrees in Special Education for 2017.

Best Education Degrees, the leading guide to educational careers and colleges, rates Bloomsburg University 23rd in the country in its latest ranking of the 25 Best bachelor's degrees in Special Education for 2017.

Best Education Degrees ranking methodology is based on a variety of reputed and reliable statistics. Three general criteria are used: a school's reputation score, calculated using selected categories of statistics from publicly available sources such as U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and college websites; an affordability rating using net price calculators and an average early-career salary (from payscale.com); and specific 2016 program ratings from the National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

At BU, the College of Education's conceptual framework vision informs the Department of Exceptionality programs according to Best Education Degrees. This particular emphasis for students of all backgrounds and developmental ability translates to a personal focus for educators.

The Special Education (PK-8)/ Early Childhood Education (PK-4), Dual Certification undergraduate major at BU focuses on preparing future teachers, leaders and service professionals to make personalized connections and plans for all students. The Council for Exceptional Children code of ethics guides the program and graduates enter into public schools prepared. The program also trains individuals to work in community settings and private organizations or schools. The department places a real priority on field experience, which begins early and continues throughout the professional sequence. Ranked 16th by the NCTQ increases credibility and ensures the effectiveness of the program.

The tuition is affordable at $9,326, and the average beginning salary is $48,600.

According to PayScale, more than 80 percent of graduates with a bachelor's degree in special education say their job makes the world a better place. Not only does this indicate that special education is a unique calling, but it demonstrates the deep understanding that compassion, patience, kindness, and humility are the virtues we all need to make this world a better place.

"It has been said that teachers learn more than students, and in the case of the special education teachers I've known, that is certainly true," said Nick Plato, managing editor of Best Education Degrees. "If you are called to teach special education and are seeking the best school to gain the knowledge and skills for licensure and success, we hope to help you along the way."

The top school for the 25 Best Bachelor's in Special Education Degrees is Arizona State University, while Indiana University is second, and University of Minnesota third.

Senior’s research on PBIS showcased at state forum

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 60 percent of first-time teachers say they’re not sufficiently prepared to face the challenge of addressing the social and emotional needs of today’s students in tandem with achieving academic learning outcomes. Ashley Smith, a senior early childhood and special education major, will not be one of them.

The recent graduate has spent the past two years as a Fellow with Bloomsburg University’s McDowell Institute for Teacher Excellence in Positive Behavior Support, where she has been focused on researching positive behavioral interventions. Her work will be showcased this week statewide at the 2017 PA PBIS Implementers’ Forum. She is the first BU undergraduate ever to do so, according to Timothy Knoster, Ed.D., executive director of the McDowell Institute and professor of exceptionality programs.

“He encouraged me to submit a poster proposal for competitive review,” said Smith, regarding the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN). “I basically had to submit a three-paragraph essay about what I wanted to present, the evidence to support my proposal, and how I was going to display the data.”

Gaining a practicum advantage

Gabrielle Meister couldn’t wait to be in front of a classroom. It was part of her driving passion to become a teacher. After three years of lectures and observing classrooms, this Bloomsburg University early childhood and special education major decided enough was enough. This summer, it was time for her to teach.

Meister was among 22 education majors to participate in the three-week Milton Teaching Practicum in the Milton Area School District. It’s one of five practicum options College of Education students can choose from to get classroom experience prior to student teaching.

“When you’re first getting up in front of the classroom — even as young as kindergarten — you get very nervous,” Meister says. “The first time it was nerve-racking. By the third time, I got better at it. I’m now 100 percent more comfortable heading (forward). Student teaching is going to be amazing.”