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Online Practical Teacher Training (OPTT)

USU’s Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation’s Online Practical Teacher Training (USU OPTT) program offers coursework for licensure to work with K-12 students with mild/moderate disabilities or K-12 students with severe disabilities. All coursework is delivered online and is available throughout the state of Utah.

NOTE: OPTT is not available outside of Utah.

USU OPTT is an innovative, online special education preparation program specifically designed for special education teachers working on Letters of Authorization (LOAs) and special education paraprofessionals. Applicants may choose to specialize in either severe or mild/moderate disabilities, and will be fully-qualified for special education certification upon completion of this 5-semester program (fall-spring-summer-fall-spring). The OPTT program accepts applicants who (a) have bachelor’s degrees and are teaching on a LOA, or (b) are paraprofessionals who have completed all other university requirements and need only the endorsement courses for their first bachelor’s degree. In addition, the applicant must be working in a district or charter school that agrees to collaborate with USU’s Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation (SPER) to provide classroom support throughout the program.

Admission to the OPTT program
To be accepted into the USU OPTT program, applicants must work at least part-time in a district that agrees to collaborate with SPER. Continued employment (at least half-time as a teacher on a LOA or as a special education paraprofessional) is required throughout the program. Applicants must also pass entrance exams in math and literacy prior to admission.

Admission for applicants who hold a Bachelor’s degree
Individuals who have a bachelor’s degree must be hired by a district or charter school as a special education teacher working on a letter of authorization prior to applying to the OPTT program. Continued employment as a special educator is required throughout the program.

Admission for applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s degree
Individuals who are working on their first bachelor’s degree are eligible to apply to the OPTT program if they meet these criteria: (a) are employed at least half-time as a K-12 special education paraprofessional in a district or charter school that has agreed to collaborate with SPER, and (b) have completed all bachelor’s degree requirements except the endorsement courses.

The OPTT program provides course work leading to licensure to work with K-12 students with severe disabilities or K-12 students with mild/moderate disabilities. Preparation includes academic coursework taken concurrently with supervised field-based experiences.

Coursework is online with required weekly live class sessions. Students log into the class on their own computer from their school or home. The courses are delivered in a blended format, which means they are a combination of live and online presentation. Each week classes will meet live for 60-90 minutes, which is less than the usual time for a traditional class. To make up the additional time, students will complete online activities at a time of convenience prior to each live session. So, in a sense, students have more homework (online activities) and less live class time. The live classes are attended by logging in from a computer at home or school, and do not require traveling to a university classroom.

Severe Specialization

This licensure qualifies individuals to work with K-12 students with severe disabilities in a functional skills classroom. This includes working with students who have low-incidence disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic and acquired brain injury, and multiple disabilities. Students in this program learn the following evidence-based practices: creating daily schedules that maximize instructional time for students, effective behavior management strategies, systematic reinforcement, individual and small group instruction, implementing an effective teaching cycle, assessment, and managing and supervising paraprofessionals.

Mild/Moderate Specialization

This licensure qualifies individuals to work with K-12 students with mild to moderate disabilities. These students may have mild cognitive impairments, learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, or other disabilities requiring special education. The emphasis in the mild/moderate program is identifying strategies and developing special education programs to address the educational demands for the student to meet the state core curriculum.


For more information on the USU OPTT program, please contact:

Laura Parrish
435-797-7575
laura.parrish@usu.edu