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Developmental Disabilities Concentration

Our Developmental Disorders Concentration (DD) prepares you to serve K-12 students in a variety of educational settings addressing mild, moderate, and severe needs who have been identified with Developmental Cognitive Disabilities (DCD). With a Minnesota K-12 Developmental Disabilities License, you’ll become adept at implementing and adapting evidence-based instruction methods that will meet the needs of your students with Developmental Cognitive Disabilities (DCD) and help them succeed. If you're not already a Tier 3 or Tier 4 Minnesota licensed teacher, you will also need to complete the Standards of Effective Practice concentration. This additional concentration meets the Minnesota Professional Educator Standards and Licensing Board’s (PELSB) Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice, a requirement for all Tier 3 and Tier 4 licensed teachers.


Mostly Online

You'll complete over 80% of your coursework online.

Location: St. Paul

Start Dates: Courses start every 6 weeks. Contact your enrollment counselor for details.

Total Credits


Finish in as Few as

18-28 months (plus thesis)


  • Writing the Thesis (EDUC795)

    Exploration of a significant educational issue relevant to the student's profession through writing an independent thesis or collaborative research project. Recognition of the characteristics of quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods, meta-analysis, and action research designs. Reflection on research ethics from a Christian worldview. Oral defense of student’s thesis or project following collaboration with the thesis advisor.

    4 credits

  • Introduction to Special Education: History, Law, Academics, and Behavior (SPED602)

    Identification of the impact of historical, philosophical foundations, legal bases, and contemporary issues on special education. Exploration of disability category characteristics, cultural influences, and linguistic considerations. Description of the effects of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the collaboration between special and general education. Introduction to functional behavioral assessments, individual and school-wide support systems, and the adaptation of evidence-based instruction. Identification of how curricular components guide instruction and analysis of positive instructional environments.

    4 credits

  • Norm-Reference Assessment and Field Experience (SPED617)

    Description of standards and critical elements in the special education assessment process. Identification of test development principles and evaluation of standardized assessment instruments for special education decision-making. Description of responsibilities of assessment team members. Synthesis of assessment data. Application of scriptural principles to assessment in special education. Identification of students’ strengths and needs through assessment, Development of an evaluation report, Explanation of results with family, student and staff.

    4 credits

  • Instructional Strategies for Students with Mild-Moderate Disabilities (SPED618)

    Interpretation of student performance data, employing differentiation strategies for diverse needs, and applying evidence-based instructional practices for students with mild-moderate disabilities. Creation of positive learning environments and exploration of the connection between faith concepts and K-12 special education. Development of skills for resource search and citation, distinguishing between research-based, non-research-based, and scholarly sources. Development of skills to find, review, and summarize scholarly articles and adhere to APA style while linking academic research to evidence-based practices.

    4 credits

  • Consultation, Collaboration, and Resources (SPED623)

    Identification of collaborative partners and structures needed to provide effective special education services to students and their families. Inclusion of community, interagency, educational organizations, and other professional services while considering family background, socioeconomic status, cultural and linguistic diversity. Evaluation of current research and its relevance to planning and implementing emerging special education practices.

    2 credits

  • Programming and Planning for Special Education (SPED627)

    Development and evaluation of an individual education program (IEP) based on student assessment results. Consideration of technology, supplementary aids, services, and transition needs of students. Synthesis of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity.

    2 credits

  • Reading Foundations and Field Experience (SPED629)

    Identification of relationships, stages, and patterns among reading, writing, and oral language development, fluency and comprehension processes, instructional strategies, markers/strategies to address dyslexia, and connections between personal faith and professional role. Description of English language structure, word identification strategies, and the role of vocabulary knowledge. Determination of appropriate assessment strategies and analysis of texts for K-12 classrooms. Students will apply evidence-based lesson design, instructional methods, and assessment strategies in a 35-hour supervised K-12 field experience.

    4 credits

  • Classroom-based Assessment and Field Experience (SPED655)

    Description of legal, professional, and ethical standards in assessment related to informal assessment measures and environmental factors influencing student achievement and behavior. Description of student’s learning style, strengths, and analysis of behavior based on observations and assessment data. Identification of the influence diversity, age and gender have on assessment.

    4 credits

  • Foundations of Developmental and Cognitive Disabilities/Intellectual Disabilities (SPED661)

    Examination of the historical, legal, and philosophical foundations of educating students with developmental cognitive disabilities. Survey of etiology and characteristics of students, definitions and identification, assessment, and current issues related to disabilities. Integration of personal faith, reflection, vision, and professional development practices to improve service to students and families.

    2 credits

  • Instruction and Intervention for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (SPED667)

    Assessment procedures for developmental cognitive disabilities. Assessment selection for data-based, educational decision-making for students with developmental cognitive disabilities/intellectual disabilities. Application of effective education planning and strategies to support improved student outcomes in the areas of social skills, academics, motor skills, communication, self-care, and home and community skills. Collection of professional resources.

    4 credits

  • Supporting Students with Intellectual Disabilities Across Systems (SPED669)

    Exploration of how the case manager of students with intellectual disabilities and the special education process can leverage comprehensive systems, agencies, and people within and outside of schools to contribute to positive outcomes for students with complex needs.

    4 credits

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Credits listed are for the current catalog. The PELSB (Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board) may implement new requirements that may require credit changes.