Revolutionizing Education

AACTE DEI Video: Building the Special Education Pipeline

Ed Prep Matters features the “Revolutionizing Education” column to spotlight the many ways AACTE, member institutions, and partners are pioneering leading-edge research, models, strategies and programs that focus on the three core values outlined in the current AACTE strategic plan: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Quality and impact; and Inquiry and Innovation.

In the next segment of the AACTE Diversity, Equity and Inclusion video series, AACTE members address the critical shortage of special education teachers and how to ensure teachers can effectively serve students with disabilities. The video aligns with AACTE’s strategic priority to advocate for high-quality educator preparation and the inclusion of all students in equitable access and opportunity in PK-20 classrooms. In this DEI video, Building the Special Education Pipeline, leaders in educator preparation consider approaches to increasing the pool of highly qualified special education teachers.

“Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia report a shortage of special education teachers. The majority of school districts cannot fill their teaching slots,” says AACTE consultant Jane E. West. “Special educators have two jobs: They are administrators running the process of individualized education planning, and they teach; whereas,  general education teachers don’t have those dual responsibilities of administration and being effective educators,” says Judy Sylva, chair, Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Counseling, California State University San Bernardino. “I was labeled with a learning disability and tracked … so that kind of set the trajectory for my K-12 experience.  I wanted to go into education to ensure that no one has to go through the same things that I did.” says Bianca Nightengale, assistant professor, Florida Atlantic University. “We need ways to work with students with disabilities and other students who are not learning or behaving in ways that are conducive for them to secure good outcomes,” says Mary Brownell, associate professor and executive director of the CEEDAR Center

Watch the full video.

Stay tuned for more clips in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Educator Preparation video series available on AACTE’s Video Wall. Help AACTE spread the word by sharing the videos with your social network!

If you would like to share your story about how your institution or organization is revolutionizing approaches to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Quality and Impact; and Inquiry and Innovation, please contact Katrina Norfleet at


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Katrina Norfleet

Content Strategist, AACTE