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Master’s in High Incidence Disabilities Practicum Experience

This practicum information only applies to you if you are a student in the graduate Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) in Special Education and an emphasis on High Incidence Disabilities, taking either the Teacher Track or the Endorsement Track. If you are in one of those programs, we recommend that you bookmark this page in your browser now, so you will always have ready access to this information.

You may be asking, what is practicum and how does it work at the University of Kansas School of Education and Human Sciences? For classroom educators pursuing endorsement or a license to teach as a special educator, KU’s online programs include two required practicum experiences incorporating intensive fieldwork and direct teaching experiences. In addition to meeting requirements for supervised field experience, the practicum allows you to apply what you are learning in your online graduate program in a classroom environment, while receiving real-time feedback that makes you a more effective educator.

Practicum Structure

The practicum is an integrated component of your graduate program. Like your online courses, it is eight weeks in length, worth three credits and eligible for financial aid. To keep your experience focused and your workload manageable, you will not be enrolled in an additional online course during your eight-week practicum. Our practicum experiences provide you with an opportunity to explore some interactive technologies, enabling us to work together over the Internet. Learning online and receiving coaching over the Internet will enable you to develop skills and effectiveness as a special educator. You will be surprised at how quickly you develop a trusting relationship with your university supervisor when the technology is in place. This practicum provides you with the opportunity to apply what you have learned to serve persons with disabilities. You will receive guidance, support and feedback from a host teacher on site, and you will also use the latest online technology to demonstrate your teaching to your university supervisor.

KU’s practicum is designed to be completed within your existing school environment. You will complete five types of assignments over the eight-week practicum. One of the practicum requirements involves preparing and delivering three formal lessons plans. You will tape the lessons and upload them to an online platform EdthenaTM. Your instructor will monitor the way you engage and interact with your students and will provide real-time feedback on methods and techniques to improve your classroom effectiveness. Other informal lessons will also be observed during the eight-week course. Additionally, weekly journals, interviews and two major assignments are included. The SPED 775 syllabus will fully describe the requirements and timeline and provide a rubric for the assignments illustrated below.

Special Education Masters Practicum

Getting Started

We’ll work with you to make the practicum experience as seamless and rewarding as possible. If you’re considering enrolling in KU’s online program, there’s nothing you need to do for your practicum experience prior to enrollment. Once you’ve enrolled, your Student Success Coordinator will share the requirements you’ll need to complete prior to beginning your practicum. As you approach the start of your practicum experience, you’ll download a practicum handbook that walks you through the experience in detail. Your Student Success Coordinator, Faculty Advisor, and Practicum Director are here to guide you through the process. If you have questions about the practicum experience, reach out to a Student Success Coordinator at 877-393-9455 or by email at

Practicum Placement Step-By-Step

If you are pursuing endorsement or licensure to teach as a special educator (the Endorsement Track or Teacher Track), your online program will include two required practicum experiences. In addition to meeting requirements for supervised field experience, the practicum allows you to apply what you are learning in your online graduate program to a classroom environment and receive real-time feedback that makes you a more effective educator.

At least 12 weeks prior to the start of your practicum course, you will begin to prepare for your practicum with help from your Student Success Coordinator and Practicum Director. The steps you need to take in order to confirm your placement with your district and KU’s Department of Special Education are illustrated in the diagram below.

Special Education Masters Practicum Agenda

Step 1: Contact Student Success Coordinator

Your Student Success Coordinator and Faculty Advisor are here to guide you through the practicum process. For general questions about the practicum experience process, please reach out to your Student Success Coordinator at 877-393-9455. For technical questions regarding practicum forms or eligibility, please contact Dr. Marti Elford at Please submit all requirements and documentation as directed below in Step 4.

Step 2: Find your Practicum Site

If you are interested in completing practicum within your own classroom, it should have at least 10 children with disabilities. In addition, you must have a teacher in your school whose current teaching endorsement matches the one that you are working towards.

If you are unable to complete practicum within your own classroom, you will need to identify at least three schools in one or more districts where you would be interested in completing your practicum. Once you identify the list of schools, we will work with you to select a placement. Schools that qualify for practicum should be accredited by your state and offer an inclusive setting. Parochial/private schools may be considered for placement, as long as they meet state accreditation standards. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to locate a practicum site, we have prepared a conversation guide that outlines how you should approach connecting with schools.

Step 3: Gather Required Documents

Whether you are completing your practicum in your own classroom or at a different location, you must submit a practicum placement request form. You will need the following documents in order to submit your practicum placement request:

Current Resume/CV: You are required to submit a resume or CV.

Cover Letter: You are required to submit an introductory letter or cover letter.

Health Certificate and Liability Insurance: All students must obtain a health certificate and National Education Association (NEA) or other professional liability insurance. These must be obtained and submitted no later than six weeks prior to the start of practicum. NEA student membership is a very low cost option and includes coverage for student teaching. Students may join by going to the NEA website. Once you obtain membership, you should save your membership receipt to be submitted with the practicum placement request.

  • The health certificate form must be dated within 12 month of the start date of your practicum placement. The completed health certificate form is submitted with the practicum placement request.

Evidence of Background Check: On January 1, 2004, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) instituted new regulations that must be followed in order for hospitals, home health agencies, clinics, etc., to gain or maintain accreditation status. One of these new regulations requires all persons who are involved in-patient care activities, (i.e. employees, volunteers and students) to have criminal background checks as well as other healthcare related checks. In order for you to be placed at a clinical site, you must complete a background check with Validity Screening Solutions.

To complete your background check:

  • Visit the Validity Academics website
  • Enter the Username and Password below:

    • Username: kued8512

    • Password: background
  • Select “School of Education” from the list of programs
  • Follow the detailed instructions on the screens
  • Fill out all form fields on the disclosure and click “Continue Application”

    • Read the “Summary of Rights Under the Fair Credit Report Act” and click continue to the background check

    • Click on “Continue”

    • Authorize the background check

    • Choose a payment option:

      • Credit Card: $33.00 plus $1.00 surcharge. When your credit card payment has been accepted, your background check will be immediately be entered into progress

      • PayPal: $33.00 plus $2.00 surcharge. When your payment has been accepted, your background check will be immediately be entered into progress

      • Money Order/Cashier’s Check: $33. Your background check will not be entered into progress until Validity Screening Solutions receives the money order/cashier’s check. Be advised the money order/cashier’s check may take up to five days to receive and process. If you choose the money order/cashier’s check option, you will be routed to a page that will have detailed directions on how and where to submit your payment
    • Print Order Summary for your records. The results of the background check will be forwarded to KU

    • You will receive a copy of the background check. Save it and submit it with the practicum placement request
Step 4: Submit the Graduate Practicum Placement Request Web Form

In order to complete this form, you will need all of the documents from Step 3 (saved in PDF format). You will need to complete the form in its entirety at least 12 weeks before the start of your practicum course. Click here to go to the form.

Step 5: Meet Technology Requirements

This course contains a rich technology component. You will need to ensure that you can meet the technology requirements for your practicum course.

  • You will need access to high-speed internet to complete your practicum.
  • You’ll need access to a video recording device (i.e. a smartphone, tablet with camera or camcorder).
  • The classroom should be video-ready so that a single camera can capture you teaching and guiding your students.

You will need to set up Microsoft Lync (a video conferencing tool that will enable you to communicate with your instructor) and Edthena (an online program that allows you to store your teaching videos so that your university supervisor can view your teaching on a secure server). As a part of your course fees, you will have access to Lync and will purchase a year license to use Edthena. When you are ready to set up Lync and Edthena, please follow the directions through KU IT for Microsoft Lync and become familiar with Edthena.

Get a head start by setting up the technologies now. Learn how to use:

  • Microsoft Lync: Four times during the course, you will have a video conference (Lync Chat) with the instructor using Microsoft Lync. Lync is also a way that you can ask a quick question, like a text message, when you see that the instructor is available.
  • Edthena: Edthena is a secure, Web-based platform where you will upload your teaching videos each week. Please look at the Edthena Prezi demonstration.

Two weeks before your practicum course, you will be sent an invitation to create your Edthena account. If you have any difficulties, please email Edthena’s support staff directly.

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