Title: Workforce watch
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090862/00019
 Material Information
Title: Workforce watch
Series Title: Workforce watch
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, College of Education, University of Florida
Publisher: Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, College of Education, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: February 2004
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090862
Volume ID: VID00019
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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*r I

An Insufficient Supply and a

Growing Demand for Qualified

Special Education Teachers

What School Districts Can Do

* Some 98 percent of the nation's
school districts report shortages of
special education teachers.
* Special education is the area with
the greatest shortage of teachers in
200 of the largest cities in the United
* During the 2000-2001 school year,
approximately 47,500 special educa-
tion positions were filled by uncertified
personnel-a 23 percent increase
from the previous year.
* During the 2000-2001 school year,
approximately 808,000 students with
disabilities were taught by personnel
who were not fully certified.
here is a severe, chronic shortage
of special education teachers in the
United States. Retaining certified and
qualified personnel in special education
is an increasing challenge for school dis-
trict administrators. Are you prepared to
ensure a quality special education teacher
workforce? Read on to gain insights from
the research.

Shortages Vary-Is Your District at
High Risk?
Some states and districts may be hit
harder by shortages than others. For ex-
ample, shortages vary:
* By state-with some states reporting

that more than 20 percent of special
education teaching positions are filled
by noncertified individuals.
* Within state-with high poverty, ur-
ban areas reporting high turnover
rates and unfilled openings compared
to their suburban counterparts, who
may have waiting lists of possible
* By job description-with the area of
emotional disturbance experiencing
the greatest need nationally, followed
by the areas of specific learning dis-
abilities, multiple disabilities, and
mental retardation. [Note: All areas
of disability show shortages.]
* By diversity of teaching staff-with
estimates ranging from a five to a
12 percent diversity rate among the
teaching force in the coming years
(2005 2009), compared to 40 per-
cent of the student population.
Student enrollment figures prominently in
predicting teacher shortages. During the
1990s, the number of students with dis-
abilities increased by 20.3 percent, and
that growth pattern is expected to contin-
ue during the next decade. Indeed, if stu-
dent growth trends continue, the number
of special education teaching positions
will increase by 33.7 percent, requiring
an additional 135,793 teachers by the
year 2008.

- A growing demand, a de-
creasing supply, and an in-
crease in attrition-Are you
prepared to ensure a qual-
ity special education teacher




Prospects for meeting the de-
mands are not encouraging.
Currently, the nation is experienc-

ing a decrease
graduates from

- ne-third of
newly hired spe-
cial education
teachers are not
fully certified.
While quality is
certainly at issue,
it is questionable
whether this prac-
tice actually ad-
dresses shortages
because uncerti-
fied teachers are
three times more
likely than certified
teachers to leave
their positions.

in the number of
special education
teacher prepara-
tion programs.
The problem is
by the fact that
only a portion
of graduates
actually enter
teaching. More-
over, the reserve
pool of spe-
cial education
rienced teachers
who are return-
ing to the profes-
sion after an ab-
sence, or gradu-
ates of teacher

education pro-
grams who delayed entry into the
profession-is not sufficient.

Local District and
Administrative Support To
Address Teacher Shortages
Attrition is a major contributing
factor in the demand for special
education teachers. Overall, the
annual attrition rate for special
educators is estimated at 13.5
percent, compared to 6.4 percent
for general education. This re-
sults in an annual loss of approxi-
mately 22,000 special education

Special educators report a variety
of reasons for leaving the profes-
sion that are specific to teaching
conditions in their field. These in-

Role overload-paperwork
burdens, heavy caseloads, lim-
ited resources, lack of plan-
ning and meeting time.

* Student characteristics that
place significant demands on
teaching and learning practices
(e.g., lack of progress, behav-
ior management issues).

* Limited collegial support from
administrators and teachers.

Factors that affect general educa-
tion teachers' decisions to remain
in the field-higher salaries, en-
tering the profession prepared
and certified, a collaborative,
supportive school climate, etc.-
also influence special educators.

Even if you are not currently ex-
periencing shortages, retaining
qualified special education teach-
ers makes good sense. Admin-
istrative support is critical to re-
tention and to improving teacher
ability to have a positive effect
on outcomes for students with
disabilities. Following are rec-
ommendations that local district
administrators may consider to
attract and retain special educa-
tion teachers:

* Reduce isolation by increasing
contact and participation with
other school staff members.

* Keep avenues of communi-
cation open. Engage special
education teachers in making
decisions that affect their work.

* Provide opportunities for on-
going professional develop-
ment. Implement beginning
teacher induction programs.

* Provide support, especially in
areas where teachers report
they do not feel supported
(e.g., IEP development and
monitoring, dealing with be-
havioral problems, selecting
and implementing curriculum).

* Provide the resources teachers
need to do their jobs-plan-
ning and collaboration time,

instructional materials, man-
ageable caseloads.

Offer incentives such as sign-
ing bonuses, moving expenses,
salary supplements, and higher
beginning salaries for certified

For More Information

Information reported in this brief was
based on two COPSSE papers:

* The Supply and Demand for
Special Education Teach-
ers: A Review of Research
Regarding the Nature of the
Chronic Shortage of Spe-
cial Education Teachers, by
James McLeskey, Naomi Tyler,
and Susan Flippin.
* Special Education
Administration at a Cross-
roads: Availability, Licensure,
and Preparation of Special
Education Administrators, by
Carl Lashley and Mary Lynn
These documents can be found
on the COPSSE web site at

The Center on Personnel Studies in Spe-
cial Education is funded by the Office of
Special Education Programs of the U.S.
Department of Education [cooperative
agreement #H325Q000002]. COPSSE
research is designed to inform scholars
and policymakers about beginning teach-
er quality, effective initial preparation, and
the effects of preparation alternatives. The
Center is directed by Drs. Paul Sindelar
and Mary Brownell. The policy briefs were
produced by Warger, Eavy & Associates.
University of Florida, 300 Norman Hall,
PO. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611
352-392-0701 (X283), www.copsse.org

Opinionsexpressed here
( do not necessarily reflect he
7 views of the US Department
I --, of Education

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