About SPED

About the Department of Special Education

As the largest Department of Special Education in Oregon, we seek to improve the educational and life experiences of students with disabilities through the preparation of highly effective special education teachers. Our dedicated faculty and staff are committed to improving the outcomes of children and youth with disabilities through evidence-based teacher preparation, applied research, and state and national service. We welcome collaboration and value community-based partnerships to support children, youth, families, school districts, and agencies throughout the state.


The Special Education Department at Portland State University is dedicated to preparing and supporting professionals to improve the educational outcomes and quality of life for all learners.  


To achieve our vision, the Special Education programs strive to increase the use of evidence-based practices by preparing exemplary educators, collaborating with schools, building community partnerships, and conducting and disseminating research.


The Special Education Department faculty believes: 

  1. All children can learn. 
  2. Educators have a fundamental responsibility for children’s learning and a duty to advocate for students and their families.
  3. Diverse, inclusive, and equitable environments improve educational opportunities and a quality of life for all learners.
  4. Families have valuable knowledge about their children and are essential partners in their education.
  5. Collaboration among schools, families, and communities improves educational outcomes.
  6. Preparing high quality teachers requires blending effective instruction at PSU with successful school partnerships.
  7. Prevention and systematic early intervention are essential for maximizing student success and for preventing failure among student groups as well as for individual students. 
  8. Support systems and the provision of culturally responsive instructional practices should be used to address the unique needs of diverse learners and to enhance the recruitment of a diverse educational work force.
  9. Research and evidence-based practices increase the effectiveness of educators’ work.
  10. Collection and thoughtful data analysis should drive educational decision-making about instruction and support.