JSU to Offer Special Education Teaching Certification


by Brett Buckner

In an effort to combat a critical shortage in special education teachers, Jacksonville State University is now offering provisional teaching certification in special education. 

“While there are shortages in most teaching fields, the shortage of special education teachers is dire,” said Dr. Kimberly S. White, dean of the JSU College of Education and Professional Studies. “We are pleased to be in a position to support our school districts by offering this streamlined approach and increasing the number of highly qualified teachers being certified in special education.”

Upon completion of the program, candidates will have full Class B certification in the State of Alabama to teach Grades 6-12 for three years while working to receive permanent teaching credentials. This approach is similar to the existing emergency teacher certification in early childhood and secondary education, but it’s the first time such a provision has been created for special education.

“Across the state – and I imagine across the country as well, because of COVID – we have a major teacher shortage, which is leaving gaps,” said Dr. Christie Calhoun, assistant professor and interim head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “There’s a huge need and this was the state’s response to try and fill those gaps.” 

Special education certification is available to anyone who holds a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with at least a 2.5 GPA. The curriculum includes the following, completely online courses:

  • Survey of Exception Children and Youth 
  • Assessment of Teaching Learning 
  • Medical, Legal and Ethical Issues 
  • Collaboration in the Elementary/Secondary Classroom 
  • Behavior and Classroom Management

The difference between emergency and traditional teaching certification is simply course work. As part of JSU’s basic undergraduate special education program, more than 60 credit hours are required, which includes a practicum experience in schools. The emergency bundle is 15 hours and doesn’t require a practicum.

“This is hitting all the high points – those most important issues that special ed teachers have to deal with,” Calhoun said. “It’s basically the most important parts of the special education program with the hope that candidates will then pursue advanced degrees to become even more qualified once they’ve completed the initial certification.” 

Applications to the program will open soon for Fall 2022 enrollment. For more information, contact Dr. Christie Calhoun at 256-782-5472 or cfcalhoun@jsu.edu