Special Education P-12 and Elementary Education (Dual Endorsement)

Special Education P-12 and Elementary Education (Dual Endorsement)


The Department of Special Education and Education Leadership is proud to announce that we were granted national accreditation for the P-12 Special Education Endorsement after successfully completing a rigorous review process through our professional organization, The Council for Exceptional Children. Graduates from the program receive a teaching license as well as endorsements in both Special Education and Elementary Education.

This dual endorsement program offered through the Department of Special Education and Education Leadership prepares aspiring special education teachers to work with students with disabilities from Preschool through age 21 as well as work as a general education teacher in a regular elementary classroom. Since the education of all children is a worthy cause, we provide a carefully sequenced series of coursework that balances content knowledge with numerous opportunities to apply the knowledge and develop skills in a wide range of settings. Given that a special education teacher is a demanding profession, we prepare our students with the skills needed to effectively assess and teach academic skills as well as effectively manage the classroom environment in a positive and respectful manner.

Portrait of Quinn Reno

“The academic challenges I faced in middle school created my passion for working with students who experience learning difficulties. I believe all students should receive the support they need to thrive as learners.”

Quinn Reno
Recent Graduate

Western’s Special Education program is consistent with state and national standards. It is based upon best evidence-based and research-based practices. Our curriculum includes an emphasis on Curriculum-Based Evaluation (for academic, social-emotional, and behavioral areas) within a tiered system of support framework.

There are two common views of Special Education. The first is simply the education of students with exceptionalities. While this is true, we believe that the following definition better reflects our perspective: The application of exceptional teaching that benefits students with and without disabilities.

Interested in becoming a special education teacher and working with individuals with disabilities, but not quite sure? Please feel free to contact someone in the Department of Special Education and Education Leadership. You might even be interested in our GUR course, EDUC 205 Disability, Diversity and Media.

Beyond the Classroom

Practicum Placements and Internships

The college faculty coordinate a wide range of school and community based practicum placements strategically placed throughout the program. This provides frequent opportunities to interact with young children while developing your teaching skills. The final quarter internship (student teaching) experience is coordinated by the department and in conjunction with the Office of Field Experiences.

Professional Development

Teacher education candidates are expected to participate in professional development activities outside of the classroom setting. These activities are varied and may include events such as professional development alongside practicing teachers in the local schools, attendance at selected informational talks, or workshops.

Compass 2 Campus

The State of Washington mentoring initiative at Western is designed to increase opportunities in higher education by providing mentoring for 5th–12th grade students from traditionally underrepresented and diverse backgrounds in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Visit the Compass 2 Campus page for learn more about the program.

Reading Tutor

Woodring employs Western students to work as reading tutors in local elementary schools. Visit the Reading Tutors page to learn more about the program.

Careers and Graduate Studies

Our graduates are actively recruited from districts and agencies across the state to become both a special education teacher and/or an elementary education position. There has been a national shortage of Special Education teachers since 1975 and districts in Washington State continually strive to find qualified teachers, often forced to look out-of-state. We, in the department, are particularly proud of our graduates and the work they do in school and communities supporting students who experience the most difficulty learning.

Our graduates are also actively sought by numerous graduate programs and have been allowed to transfer some of their coursework into the graduate school. So, whether you plan to continue in the classroom or move to the university setting, you will be well prepared and maintain a competitive edge.


Sample Jobs

  • Special Education Teacher
  • Elementary Education Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher P-12
  • Transition Teacher
  • Specialized Program Teacher
  • Behavior Interventionist

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.