Indiana State University Newsroom

Special education program receives recognition

November 11, 2011

The special education program in Indiana State University's Bayh College of Education recently received recognition from the Council for Exceptional Children.

Robin Burden, associate professor of special education, said the five-year recognition lets students know they are enrolling in a top-notch program.

"ISU is providing them with a quality education that meets the beliefs and standards proposed by the premier organization for special educators," Burden said.

To receive recognition, programs must meet 10 standards related to knowledge and practice, including practicum experiences in a classroom and high mastery rates for the Praxis II exam, which students must pass to become licensed teachers.

"We have to show through preponderance what we present through assessment and artifacts that we're meeting the standards," Burden said.

ISU's students studying special education not only observe teaching in resource rooms, they also work with the teachers and co-teach. Before the college students begin student teaching, they have already had six occasions to work in depth in a classroom, including through the TOTAL (Teachers of Tomorrow Advancing Learning) program in which students spend a semester working all day in classrooms.

"They're really getting good experience," Burden said.

The council expects 80 percent of a program's students to show mastery on the Praxis II exam, Burden said. Between 93 and 100 percent of ISU's students pass the exam.

"We do a good job preparing them for what they're going to be doing," she said.

Between 30 and 50 percent of ISU's students studying elementary education, one of the largest majors at ISU, also major in special education. ISU professors prepare the future teachers to work in mild intervention, which makes up about 85 percent of the special education population.

"Our program concentrates on working with mild and moderate disabilities so our students really are getting the biggest bang for their buck," Burden said. "The majority of students served by special education are in the mild and moderate categories."

The ISU program enables students to teach k-12. Starting in 2013 the program will include pre-school licensure.

Contact: Robin Burden, Indiana State University, associate professor of special education, at 812-237-8728 or

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, associate director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or