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To combat the teacher shortage, North Dakota has made it easier to become a special education teacher in the state. Like most states, North Dakota is experiencing a teacher shortage. This means that students are in classrooms that aren’t led by certified and licensed teachers. Although the shortage affects every subject, special education often bears the brunt of the shortage.

Not only does this shortage affect North Dakota’s most vulnerable students, it has legal implications. Special education teachers must have an understanding of IEPs, 504s, and other special education supports. Using substitute teachers and out-of-field educators can often fall short of meeting this requirement. Retaining teachers with special education training is the only way to ensure these students have the best chance at success. Therefore, the state has taken a big step by reducing hurdles on the path to special education teacher certification in North Dakota.

How to Teach Special Education in North Dakota

The streamlined steps to special education certification in North Dakota now reflect what’s expected of teachers in other fields. Because American Board provides the fastest and most affordable route to certification, we’ve highlighted our program steps below.

To become a teacher in North Dakota with American Board’s teacher certification program, candidates will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Pass American Board’s required pedagogy exam and subject area exam.
  2. Use American Board’s Classroom Ready Certificate to secure a job in a North Dakota public school.
  3. After obtaining a full-time teaching position, apply to the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board for an initial license. Complete the following steps within two years.
    • American Board’s Clinical Experience program and the North Dakota teacher support system approved mentor program
    • North Dakota’s youth mental health competency requirement
    • North Dakota’s human resources and cultural directives

Upon completion of these requirements, receive your American Board Institutional Recommendation and apply for the North Dakota five-year renewable certificate.

American Board in North Dakota

In 2019, Governor Burgum signed legislation approving the state’s very first alternative route to teaching: American Board. To date, dozens of teachers in North Dakota have used American Board’s program for teacher certification as their path to state licensure. Recognizing the success of the program thus far, the state expanded American Board’s approved offerings to include special education. This change was made during the 2021 legislative session.

Although American Board has only been operating in North Dakota for two years, it has a strong reputation in the state. During a House Education Committee hearing on the expansion of alternative certification in the state, the state’s Education Standards and Practices Board Executive Director touted the success of American Board’s graduates. ESPB Executive Director Dr. Pitkin explained, “Information gathered through principal and superintendent interviews last spring indicates that these individuals were successful and filled a need. As example is a South Heart parent, trained as a nurse who is currently teaching science. Many of the individuals who completed American Board were sought out by their district as they are already involved in the school and perhaps ‘missed their call’ to teach.”

American Board is proud to be off to a strong start in North Dakota. But we’re more proud of our graduates and their dedication to their local students. Click here to learn how to teach in North Dakota.

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