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Posted: January 28, 2019

New Program Pays, Supports Special Ed Teachers in Training

SETT is an alternative special education teacher training pathway for licensure that allows teacher candidates to earn a living while working alongside an experienced professional and completing coursework.

Albuquerque Public Schools, like school districts across the country, is in need of special education teachers. Now, CNM, in partnership with APS and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, is offering a program to attract more individuals to the profession.

Individuals with a bachelor's degree in any subject can become a licensed special education teacher in 15 months through the Special Education Teacher Training (SETT) program. Through this program, teacher candidates get paid and earn benefits while co-teaching alongside a seasoned educator and taking classes.

“APS has decided that they want to invest in their special education teachers and bring new people into the field of teaching in a supported pathway,” said Catron Allred, CNM Academic Affairs Director for education programs.

Karen Rudys, APS Executive Director Labor Relations said, “As we continue to address the acute teacher shortage through many pathways, the SETT program ensures recruitment and placement of high-quality educators who will bring skill, caring and passion to complex, special education classrooms.”

Classroom teaching is supported with coursework in special education, curriculum and assessment, classroom and individual behavior management, and literacy instruction.  Candidates will also complete coursework for a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) endorsement.

 “As an alternative licensure program, we have a very rigorous, successful program, but for a lot of our students, they’re in classrooms by themselves which is really challenging,” said Allred. “We really see this as a way to increase teacher retention and for teachers to enter the field in a more supportive environment.”

After co-teaching in the fall, teacher candidates will teach in their own classroom with continued mentorship, coaching and support during the first two years of teaching.  

“With special education being one of the highest areas of need, this is a really innovative program that tackles a systemic challenge that we have in the state with regards to recruiting people into the field of teaching,” said Allred.

To qualify for the SETT program, teacher candidates must

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Pass the New Mexico Teacher Assessment Test of Essential Academic Skills
  • Be legally authorized to work in the U.S.
  • Complete a background check
  • Agree to work as a special education teacher in APS for three years.

There are between 20 and 25 candidate slots available for the SETT program. Allred says successful candidates will be creative problem solvers that have a keen interest in educating children with special needs.

“Teaching in special education is unique because of the small class sizes. You really have an opportunity to connect with your students and see them progress very quickly,” said Allred.