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Martin Luther College to add special education degree program

The Governing Board of Martin Luther College (MLC) at its February meeting, approved the addition of a special education major at the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) college in New Ulm, Minnesota.

Dr. David Wendler, vice president for academics, was given the responsibility to “investigate the development of an undergraduate special education major,” according to the MLC website. As part of that investigation, a committee of the education division became aware of a doctoral study that surveyed WELS principals. The purpose of the study was to identify principals’ perceptions of, and potential barriers to, the successful implementation of special education services in WELS Lutheran elementary schools.

The study revealed that there are students with diagnosed special needs attending WELS schools. However, the number of available resources and teaching staff with a degree or certification in special education is not sufficient for the successful implementation of special education services in these schools.

The education division then explored possible implementation of a special education major. Special education has several areas of possible study including learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, and autism spectrum disorder. The committee determined that, at this time, specialized training in learning disabilities would be the most helpful. A possible goal for a special education program would be to identify one regular teacher on a faculty with this specialized training.

Since MLC already has some applicable courses, a special education major studying learning disabilities would require the addition of seven courses. Students would be encouraged to double major in elementary education and special education. Students could complete the double major in five years without enrolling in summer sessions.

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