High Standards & Innovative Solutions: How Some States are Addressing the Special Educator Shortage Crisis

National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 8–12, 2023

By Meghan Whittaker, OSERS Special Assistant

Today, more than 60% of students with disabilities spend at least 80% of their day in general classes. This wouldn’t be possible without special educators who help to customize curriculum that is accessible to all and ensure the individual needs of students with disabilities are met.

Special educators serve a critical role in our nation’s public school, yet 45% of schools reported vacancies in special education roles, and 78% reported difficulty in hiring special education staff. Special education teacher shortages have been a longstanding challenging in most states and have only worsened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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From the Pre-K — 12 Classroom to the University Classroom: Preparing Future Special Educators

National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 8–12, 2023

This Teacher Appreciation Week, a few Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Scholars who completed their degree programs with support from a Personnel Development to Improve Services for Children with Disabilities (ALN 84.325) discretionary grant administered by the Office of Special Education Programs shared “Why I Teach.”

Lauren Zepp, Ph.D.

By: Lauren Zepp, Ph.D.

I teach because I believe that reading is a human right.

I am passionate about ensuring that all people, including those with disabilities, are taught the skills they need to become readers.

My teaching initially centered on providing high-quality, evidence-based reading instruction for students with disabilities. Since completing my Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with funding from a Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities (325D) grant, I now prepare future special educators to ensure all children learn to read at school. I teach because I make a difference every day, in the lives of my students and in the lives that they will touch as educators.

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