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An Inclusive Approach to Special Education

Special education students have unique challenges in the classroom, and teachers play a vital role in their academic success. These young charges need teachers who are attuned to their exceptionalities and who are champions for inclusion in the classroom. If you are looking to enhance your abilities in the field of special education, the online Master of Education in Moderate Disabilities at Worcester State University can serve you and your students quite well.

Building Bridges in the Classroom

Having one classroom for general education students and a separate one for those in special education is now considered old-school. However, many districts across the U.S. still follow the practice. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires students with special needs to be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE), which means being in the same classroom with their peers who do not receive special education. In this inclusive classroom, general education and special education instructors “co-teach” students of all levels, including those with mild to moderate disabilities such as hearing loss, ADHD, dyscalculia, dyslexia, emotional or behavioral disorders, and autism.

Inclusive classrooms are set up differently than the traditional models. Desks are arranged into learning pods, which encourage active participation through peer teaching, role-playing, team-based learning and other collaborative methods. Being in such an environment allows general and special education students to discover that they are more alike than different — no matter their intellectual ability.

And with an online Master of Education in Moderate Disabilities, you can use the tools you gain from the degree program to empower special education students, and thoughtfully explain that they each have the potential for success in the classroom and that some students merely need slight curriculum adjustments or customized learning strategies.

The Benefits of Inclusive Learning

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 14% of public school students receive special education services. And in California alone, where there is a severe shortage of special education teachers, nearly 800,000 students have special needs. State lawmakers are making strides to credential special education teachers properly to get the support they need at work, cut attrition rates and, most importantly, better serve special needs students.

In a 2020 report, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education noted that the state has “one of the highest rates of identifying students for special education services in the nation, nearly 37% higher than the national average in 2017-2018.”

One recommendation in California calls for inclusive classrooms, which are beneficial for both students and teachers. For special education students, being taught in an inclusive learning environment can provide a big boost in morale and academic performance. And just like students, special education teachers get a morale boost from working with their general education peers in the co-teaching environment because their caseload is typically overwhelming.

Boost Your Profile With an Advanced Degree

With six start dates during the year, WSU’s online M.Ed. in Moderate Disabilities offers flexibility to start the program when it’s convenient for you. The 37 credit-hour degree program can be completed in as little as 14 months and includes coursework on special education law and regulation; ethical practices and legal implications of the special education field; instructional strategies to enhance the learning experience of students with exceptionalities; collaboration and conflict resolution; and more.
A graduate degree focused on these students’ needs can also lead to a career as a private school special education teacher, intervention specialist, inclusion support teacher or career and transition teacher.

Completing WSU’s Master of Education in Moderate Disabilities can help you become a better special education teacher. With an initial teaching license in Massachusetts, you may use this degree to self-petition for professional licensure in the state.

Take the next step on your career journey in special education by enrolling in an advanced degree program to help students get the support they deserve.

Learn more about Worcester State’s Master of Education in Moderate Disabilities online program.


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Sec. 300.114 LRE requirements

Learning Policy Institute: California’s Special Education Teacher Shortage

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Exploring MA Special Education Data [DOWNLOAD]

National Center for Education Statistics: Students With Disabilities

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