Biola University Responds to Influx in Special Education Needs

Apr. 2, 2013 By Jenna Bartlo

LA MIRADA, CALIF. — Biola University’s School of Education recently launched a special education online credential program responding to predicted future employment opportunities in education. Employment of special education teachers is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020 due to increasing enrollment and continued demand for special education services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Biola is one of only a few Christian universities to offer this degree online responding to the growth of special education needs.


“The shortage of well-qualified special education teachers has been documented for years, and I am delighted that Biola will begin to fill this need, stepping in to prepare Christian teachers to be better equipped to minister to students and families in need," said Hetzel.


Students in K-12 enrolled in California who received special education services in 2011-12 totaled 685,817 individuals with varying disabilities, according to the California Department of Education.


“Biola will empower teacher candidates to serve these populations well,” said Robin LaBarbera, Biola professor and director of special education.


A new government study also found that U.S. schoolchildren are being diagnosed with some form of autism at a record rate of 1 in 50. The researchers, from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services, reported that the rate has risen to two percent from 1.2 percent reported in a similar survey in 2007.


“For years we have known that our communities are experiencing disproportionate growth in our special needs population as compared to our normal population,” said June Hetzel, dean of Biola’s School of Education. “It has been the School of Education's deep desire to meet this need for many years.”


Biola’s Preliminary Education Specialist Credential Program (Mild/Moderate) was approved to start Fall 2013 by California’s Commission for Teacher Credentialing. This new program promotes not only career preparation and employment opportunities post graduation for students, but encourages students to face the challenges of this world and be a redemptive voice amongst the education community.


Biola has offered a certificate for special education since Fall 2011. The credential is a 36-unit program. Learn more about the program.


Read more on California’s criteria for a Special Education (Education Specialist Instruction) Credentials and California’s requirements for teachers prepared for the Level I and II credentials.


For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Specialist, at 562.777.4061 or


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