Throughout the United States, schools are facing a critical shortage of special education teachers. This crisis is growing due to an emerging demand for special education teachers, coupled with a diminishing number of qualified candidates, recruitment challenges, and a high turnover rate. Reversing this crisis requires a multiprong approach that includes short- and long-term strategies to prepare and support teachers. Special education is complex, and one common type of instruction does not support all disabilities. To promote equity in education, we must ensure students with disabilities have access to proper assessment, resources, and qualified educators that correspond with their needs.
Mary T. Brownell
Preparing and Retaining Effective Special Education Teachers: Systemic Solutions for Addressing Teacher Shortages
The views expressed in this brief are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Pending shortages of special education teachers have many states and local districts scrambling to find solutions for securing the teachers they need. Some states are proposing incentives for recruiting special education teachers (as well as teachers in other high-need areas) and reducing requirements for entry into the classroom. Others are looking for alternative ways of preparing teachers in high-need areas. Quick routes to the classroom and incentives such as signing bonuses will do little to solve the shortage problem in the long term. At best, they create a revolving door, because unprepared special education teachers are more likely to leave teaching. At worst, they exacerbate the problem. Instead, a more systemic approach to solving the teacher shortage problem in special education is needed—one that will increase the likelihood that an adequate supply of fully prepared special education teachers enters the classroom and remains there.