The Department of Special Education

Portland State University
Academic Level
Issue Area
Academic Program
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Development of Teachers,


The Department of Special Education’s mission is to diversify the special education teacher population and create responsiveness to the needs of Latino students. The Department of Special Education aims to: (1) prepare teachers so that they may reduce the disproportionate representation of minority and English Language Learner (ELL) students in special education; (2) mentor participants and alumni to increase retention of bilingual special education teachers; and (3) provide professional development to students, alumni, and teams of school professionals.

Program Description

Following the end of a federal grant that funded a Bilingual Special Education program, the Department of Special Education integrated the components of the previously funded program into the Special Education curriculum. Graduates from the federally funded Bilingual Special Education program, 70% of whom were Latino, serve unique leadership roles in their school systems due to their knowledge base in differentiating language differences from language disorders.

The Department's program director has also developed an online graduate certificate program in multicultural special education to continue preparing educators with these unique competencies. The special education licensure curriculum in the Department of Special Education has been revised to frame each course around equity issues including competencies in teaching ELLs and other underrepresented students.


30 bilingual participants have completed their special education licensure program.

20 participants have also completed a master’s degree project related to special education and ELL issues.

100% of graduates are employed in high-need schools.

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