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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Online alternative licensure program developed at

In response to the critical shortage of special education teachers in New Mexico, the College of Education at New Mexico State University offers a 21-hour, online alternative licensure plan that should increase the number of qualified special educators, said Teresa Rowlison, program coordinator.


gram allows "individuals who are interested in teaching special education, but have degrees in other fields, to begin teaching before they have actually completed their educational course work," Rowlison said. "This helps us to address the current teacher shortage and allows individuals to take course work that's pertinent to their assignment while they're in the classroom teaching."

During the 2002-2003 school year more than 550 special education teachers in New Mexico were teaching with substandard licenses, she said.

The program aims to get as many of these individuals as possible fully licensed.

"The licensure requirements are indicative of high quality teaching," Rowlison said. "We want to know that we have quality teachers in our classrooms."

The project also addresses the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which requires that every classroom nationwide must have a quality teacher, which it defines as a teacher who meets the requirements for state licensure and does not teach outside of the area for which they are licensed. Schools who do not comply with the law may lose their federal funding.

The special education alternative licensure program at NMSU has been developed in the past year and a half under the direction of Anne Gallegos, a professor of special education at New Mexico State. The course work includes seven classes, all of which can be taken online, "which is convenient for teachers across the state who have to work and continue their educations at the same time," Gallegos said. "The state needed a means to get these educators fully licensed."

The special education program requires admittance to the graduate school at NMSU and is the only approved graduate level alternative licensure program in New Mexico.

The program was developed to roll directly into the master's in special education program, Gallegos said. Teachers who complete the alternative licensure requirements could continue at the university and would only need an additional 15 credit hours to receive their master's degree.

The College of Education received $500,000 from the New Mexico Legislature in the spring to continue developing distance education licensure programs. The one-time allocation has made it possible for the special education program and other alternative licensure programs to grow more quickly than they would have otherwise.

New Mexico State also has alternative licensure programs in the areas of bilingual education, public school administration, school counseling and information technology.

For more information about admittance to any of the alternative licensure programs at New Mexico State, contact the Office of Licensure and Endorsement for Alternative Preparation in Education at (505) 646-2125.