May 29, 2024  
2012-2013 Catalog 
2012-2013 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Education


The Department of Special Education offers professional education programs that lead to recommendation to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for residency teacher certification in the state of Washington. The programs in special education are designed to prepare thoughtful, knowledgeable, and effective special education teachers for a diverse society.

Consistent with state and national standards for what special education teachers should know and be able to do, the curriculum is a carefully sequenced academic and professional program that is grounded in current research on effective teaching and learning. This sequence includes a significant amount of training in best practices with an emphasis on Curriculum-Based Evaluation (CBE) and Response to Intervention (RtI).

Programs which address residency teacher certification require students to complete an academic major, the teacher certification sequence and an internship. Special Education offers two academic majors: Special Education and Early Childhood Special Education. Special Education majors may also complete the dual endorsement program and earn endorsements to teach both special education and elementary education. Upon completion of the program, successful candidates will be recommended to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to receive a certificate to teach in their endorsement area(s).

There are two definitions of special education. One is the education of students with disabilities. The other is the application of exceptional teaching. We in the special education department at Western Washington University believe very strongly in the second definition. We think it is our mission to prepare exceptional teachers and, while students who have disabilities often require the services of such teachers, we also believe that there are many other students who can benefit from high-quality instruction. We also think that there is much satisfaction to be gained from the acquisition of the highest levels of teaching skill and that the teachers trained in our program benefit professionally and personally from the acquisition of these skills. That is why the word “special” in our title is a source of pride to us and to our graduates.


Individuals interested in teacher certification can obtain information from the Website at Inquiries should be directed to Woodring College Teacher Education Admissions, Student Services, Miller Hall 150, phone 360-650-3313, e-mail address Written inquiries may be addressed to Teacher Education Admissions, Western Washington University, MS-9090, 516 High St., Bellingham, WA 98225-9090.

Information about special education programs may be obtained by visiting the department Website at Applicants who wish to speak with a faculty advisor may request an appointment through the special education department in Miller Hall 200 or by phone at 360-650-3330 or by e-mail to

Those persons interested in graduate programs in special education should consult the Graduate School  section of this catalog or contact the Graduate School directly, phone 360-650-3170, e-mail Written inquiries may be addressed to the Graduate School, Old Main 530, MS-9037, Western Washington University, 516 High St., Bellingham, WA 98225-9037.


M. CHUCK LAMBERT (2004) Chair and Associate Professor. BEd, Gonzaga University; MA, San Francisco State University; PhD, Ohio State University.
GAIL COULTER (2008) Associate Professor. BA, MA, California State University-Chico; PhD, University of Oregon.
KEITH J. HYATT (2002) Professor. BS, MS, University of Idaho; EdS, EdD, University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
BRIDGET KELLEY (1995) Associate Professor. BS, University of Pittsburgh; MEd, Arizona State University; PhD, University of Washington.
WILLIAM H. LAY (1986) Senior Lecturer. BA, University of Montana; MEd, Western Washington University.
JENNY PARKER (2003) Senior Lecturer. BA, University of Washington; MEd, Antioch University, Seattle.
LEANNE K. ROBINSON (2002) Professor. BAE, Central Washington University; MEd, Western Washington University; PhD, Washington State University.
ROGER H, SASNETT (2012) Assistant Professor, MEd, Central Washington University, PhD., Ohio State University.
LINDA SCHLEEF (1997) Senior Lecturer. BAE, MEd, Western Washington University.
BETH STICKLEY (2003) Senior Lecturer. BA, University of Northern Iowa; MEd, Western Washington University.
TRACY THORNDIKE-CHRIST (2005) Associate Professor. BA, MS, Western Washington University; PhD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Special Education Programs

Students at Western Washington University may choose from five initial teacher preparation options that result in residency certification with an endorsement to teach special education in the state of Washington.

The No Child Left Behind “highly qualified teacher” requirement may impact the eligibility for certain teaching assignments in a core academic subject(s). Students are responsible for consulting with an advisor for further information on NCLB.

  • Early Childhood Special Education Major
    • Completion of this major and the required professional education courses results in a BA in Education with a teaching certificate and an endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education Preschool through Grade 3 (P-3) with an option of completing additional coursework to add the special education (P-12) endorsement. Additional coursework required to add ECE endorsement for P-3 general education. A nonteaching option in Early Childhood Special Education is also available.
  • Special Education Major (P-12)
    • Completion of this major and the required professional education courses results in a BA in Education with a teaching certificate and an endorsement in Special Education Preschool through Grade 12 (P-12)
  • Special Education Major (P-12) with Elementary Education Endorsement (Dual Endorsement)
    • Completion of this major and the required elementary professional education courses results in a BA in Education with a teaching certificate and endorsements in Special Education (P-12) and Elementary Education
  • Special Education Endorsement (P-12) and Secondary Education
    • Completion of course work leading toward P-12 Special Education endorsement can be arranged in coordination with a secondary education department advisor 
  • Post-baccalaureate Special Education (P-12)
    • Completion of Special Education undergraduate major course work and required professional education courses results in a Washington state teaching certificate and an endorsement in Special Education Preschool through Grade 12 (P-12)

Teachers who hold a valid and endorsable Washington state certificate may earn an endorsement in special education (P-12) by completing core course work requirements.

The Special Education and Early Childhood Education Special Education Majors are academically rigorous programs aligned with the content and performance standards of the Council for Exceptional Children.


The Washington Administrative Code specifies the requirements for earning a Washington state teacher certificate. State-approved preparation programs and certification requirements align with state learning goals and essential academic learning requirements, and require candidates to demonstrate that they have made a positive impact on student learning. First-level residency certification programs are designed around the standards of effective teaching, professional development, and teaching as a profession. Second-level professional certification requirements are designed around the standards of effective teaching, professional development, and professional contributions.

State requirements for teacher certification at the time of completion of a student’s program will supersede those outlined in this catalog. These changes may affect the time it takes for a student to complete the teacher education program.

Residency Teacher Certification

The first-level residency certificate is awarded to new teachers upon the completion of these general requirements:

  • A baccalaureate or higher-level degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A state-approved, performance-based teacher preparation program that includes preparation in an endorsable subject area, teaching methodology, and an internship
  • Evidence of good moral character and personal fitness

Candidates for residency certification must pass a subject knowledge assessment, the Washington Educator Skills Test-Endorsements (WEST-E), to receive an endorsement for certification. WWU requires submission of a passing test score for each endorsement to be earned, before commencement of the student teaching internship. For current information on test requirements, registration, fees, and test dates and locations, refer to the WEST-E Resource Website, Candidates for residency certification must also complete the state of Washington Preservice Teacher Performance Assessment during the student teaching internship. Application for the residency certificate is made to Woodring College Certification Office, Student Services, Miller Hall 150, 360-650-4930, no later than three months prior to the start of the internship.

The first-issue residency certificate has no defined expiration date. It is valid until the teacher completes at least 1.5 years of successful teaching experience accumulated over a minimum of two years in a state-approved public, private or state-operated education program. A three year residency certificate is then issued by the state. The timeline for earning a second level professional certificate begins with the re-issued residency certificate.

Professional Teacher Certification

The second-level professional certificate is awarded to experienced teachers who hold a valid residency certificate, and who pass  the Washington ProTeach Portfolio assessment or earn national board certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. For further information on professional certification requirements contact the Woodring College of Education certification officer at 360-650-4630, Miller Hall 150.


An endorsement identifies the subject matter a teacher is prepared and authorized by the state to teach. One qualifying endorsement is required for residency certification. Courses required for a teaching endorsement and the professional education sequence must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.

Professional Program Requirements

Program Length

Time to completion of the Special Education major and teacher certification, after completion of all General University Requirements (GURs) or an Associate of Arts degree from a state of Washington community college, ranges from two to three years. Students earning both Special Education P-12 and Elementary Education endorsements should plan on approximately 10 academic quarters for completion. Western students who apply to Teacher Education programs should have satisfied most of the GURs. Transfer students from a community college should have satisfied all of the GURs and preferably have received an AA degree.

Admission Requirements

All applicants to the Woodring College of Education undergraduate and post-baccalaureate teacher education programs must be formally admitted to and currently enrolled at Western Washington University or must apply to Western for the same quarter they apply to teacher education. Woodring College teacher education program application materials are available in Miller Hall 150 and are also printable from

The requirements listed below are minimum application criteria. Enrollment restrictions apply to teacher education programs. Meeting the following requirements makes the applicant eligible for admission consideration but does not guarantee admission. Students who meet all criteria are further evaluated to determine the most qualified applicants. Students will be evaluated on all information provided with the application, including required copies of transcripts from all prior colleges.

Application criteria:

  • Completion of at least 45 quarter credits of college-level course work
  • Cumulative grade point average of 2.75 or higher overall college-level course work or over the last 45 credits.
  • Passing scores on all three subtests (reading, mathematics, writing) of the Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic (WEST-B). Visit the WEST-B Website at for more information
  • Completion of an English composition course with a grade of B- (2.7) or higher
  • It is recommended that all students seek advisement from the special education department prior to submitting an application to best satisfy the admissions criteria. Experiences with children, strong interpersonal communication skills, and other skills helpful in teaching children are considered

Advisement and Orientation

Upon acceptance, each student is assigned an advisor. Students are required to make an advising appointment before registering for classes each quarter. Additionally, all accepted students must attend a required orientation. Students may be dropped from Special Education for failing to attend the required orientation.

Program Continuation

Students admitted to the Woodring College of Education must meet specified requirements throughout the course of their teacher education program in order to remain in the program.

Requirements Upon Program Admission

  • Institutional Application for a Teacher’s Certificate and Character and Fitness Supplement, and fingerprinting by the Washington State Patrol as described below under Character and Fitness
  • Woodring College of Education Professionalism Orientation
  • Woodring College of Education Prevention of Sexual Harassment Training
  • Woodring College of Education Blood-Borne Pathogens Training

Character and Fitness

The Washington Administrative Code requires applicants for teacher certification to give evidence of “good moral character and personal fitness.” Students provide evidence of character and fitness through two separate but related processes:

  • An Institutional Application for a Teacher’s Certificate and Character and Fitness Supplement, provided to students upon acceptance into the program. The application for certification requires candidates to answer questions regarding professional fitness, criminal history and personal conduct. Students with “yes” responses must report to the certification officer in Miller Hall 150 before registering for classes.
  • Washington State Patrol and FBI background checks through a fingerprinting process. Procedures and fee information are provided to students upon acceptance into the program

No student in a teacher education program may participate in a University-sponsored activity in the public schools until cleared by the Washington State Patrol, or in some cases, investigated and then cleared by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Clearances are valid for specified time frames. Students must maintain character and fitness clearance until they have been recommended for a residency teacher certificate following completion of the teacher education program.

In addition to the Washington state character and fitness requirements noted above, students must abide by the Woodring College of Education conduct policies acknowledged in the Student Conduct Requirements and Agreement, which is submitted with program application materials. Students must also abide by the Department of Special Education Professionalism Expectations document provided at the mandatory orientation.

General Retention Requirements

  • Students must maintain at least a 2.75 quarterly GPA beginning the quarter they are notified of admission to Special Education. This requirement applies even to quarters when no education courses are being taken. Students who fail to meet this standard will receive a letter advising them they have been dropped from the program

  • Students must earn a grade of C (2.0) or better in the professional education sequence and in all courses required for the endorsement and the academic major
  • Students must understand and demonstrate a high level of competence in use of the English language. Those who have difficulty in their verbal and/or written communications should expect to seek remediation before beginning the internship
  • Students must complete all certification and endorsement course work prior to the internship
  • Students who interrupt enrollment in a teacher education program for more than two consecutive quarters (summer quarter not included) must meet all program admission, completion and certification requirements in place for the quarter in which they expect to return

Program Completion

To qualify for program completion and recommendation for state of Washington residency certification, students must complete the following requirements and assessments:

  • A baccalaureate or higher-level degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A state-approved, performance-based teacher preparation program that includes preparation in an endorsable subject area, teaching methodology, and an internship
  • Evidence of good moral character and personal fitness
  • Minimum scores set by the state of Washington on the Washington Educator Skills Test-Endorsements (WEST-E) for the qualifying endorsement area(s) required by the teacher preparation program
  • Completion of the Washington Preservice Teacher Performance Assessment
  • Successful completion of the student teaching internship as shown by performance on the WWU Intern Development and Evaluation System (IDES)

Other Departmental Information 


An important experience for teaching certification candidates is the student teaching internship. During the internship, students teach under the direct supervision of a certified teacher in a school setting. The internship involves intensive practice in integrated methods, content area knowledge, and classroom organizational strategies.

Special Education and Early Childhood Special Education majors seeking certification are required to complete one quarter of internship for 16 credits. Students enroll in either SPED 496, 498 or 499. Those students completing the Special Education and Elementary Education dual endorsement program must also complete an internship in a general elementary education classroom. The one quarter Elementary internship is completed after the one quarter Special Education internship.

The Office of Field Experiences (OFE) is the service agency of the Woodring College of Education that seeks placements for prospective interns. Students apply for their internship around January prior to a fall internship start quarter, or April prior to a winter or spring internship start quarter. Specific dates for informational meetings and application deadlines are published on the OFE Website,

Students must have completed Prevention of Sexual Harassment Training, blood-borne pathogens training, a residency teacher certificate application packet including credit evaluation, and Washington State Patrol/FBI fingerprinting before OFE will seek an internship placement.

Before commencement of the internship, passing scores on the WEST-E for each endorsement must be submitted, all education and endorsement course work and practica must be completed, and fingerprint/character and fitness clearance must be valid. Students who interrupt enrollment for a quarter or more must meet the deadline for filing a returning student application.

OFE does not guarantee placements. Placement in a school is contingent on:

  • Fulfillment of all program requirements (satisfactory academic work, education and endorsement program course work and training, practica, and faculty recommendations)
  • Submission of passing scores on the WEST-E test(s) for each endorsement
  • Availability of placements and supervision in specific subjects and grade levels
  • Acceptance by P-12 school personnel
  • Fingerprint/character and fitness clearance through the point of certification

Students are required to interview with the public school teacher to whom they will be assigned, for final approval of placement. OFE will make every effort to arrange up to three initial interviews but does not guarantee an interview.

Any subsequent placement after a voluntary or nonvoluntary withdrawal from an internship will be granted only by faculty recommendation following a case conference.

Time commitment to the internship requires seven clock hours daily Monday through Friday plus class preparation time, seminars and responsibilities outside of school. Students may not register for other course work or hold jobs or other time-demanding commitments without the approval of the department and OFE.

Placement locations are listed on the map available in the department office or the Office of Field Experiences. OFE reserves the right to place students anywhere within the WWU service area.

For further information, contact the Woodring College of Education, Office of Field Experiences, Student Services, phone 360- 650-3310, Miller Hall 150.


    Undergraduate MajorGraduate


      Special Education

      Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400, 500 are described in the University Academic Policies  section of this catalog.