What does a special education teacher do?

Would you make a good special education teacher? Take our career test and find your match with over 800 careers.

What is a Special Education Teacher?

A special education teacher works with students who have a wide range of disabilities and special needs. Their primary role is to provide specialized instruction and support to help students with disabilities overcome learning barriers and achieve academic, social, and emotional success. Special education teachers assess students' individual needs, develop tailored education plans, and implement effective teaching strategies and accommodations to meet each student's unique learning goals.

In addition to academic instruction, special education teachers also foster a supportive and inclusive learning environment for their students. They collaborate closely with other educators, administrators, parents, and support staff to create Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and ensure that students with disabilities receive the necessary accommodations, services, and resources to thrive in school.

What does a Special Education Teacher do?

A special education teacher working with a child with disabilities.

Duties and Responsibilities Special education teachers have a range of duties and responsibilities that are vital in ensuring that students with disabilities receive the support they need to succeed. Some of these responsibilities include:

  • Assessment and Individualized Education Planning: Special education teachers assess students' individual needs, strengths, and challenges to determine eligibility for special education services. They collaborate with other professionals, such as psychologists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists, to conduct evaluations and develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) tailored to each student's unique learning goals and needs.
  • Instruction and Differentiated Teaching: Special education teachers design and implement specialized instruction and teaching strategies to accommodate diverse learning styles and abilities. They adapt curriculum materials, modify instructional approaches, and provide individualized support to help students with disabilities access the general education curriculum and make academic progress. Special education teachers may also provide small-group instruction, one-on-one tutoring, or co-teaching support in inclusive classroom settings.
  • Behavior Management and Support: Special education teachers help students develop social skills, self-regulation, and positive behavior management strategies to succeed in school and community settings. They establish clear expectations, reinforce positive behaviors, and provide targeted interventions and supports to address challenging behaviors and promote a positive learning environment. Special education teachers collaborate with behavior specialists, counselors, and support staff to implement behavior intervention plans and support students' social-emotional development.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Special education teachers collaborate closely with general education teachers, administrators, parents, and other professionals to support students' academic and developmental needs. They attend team meetings, participate in IEP meetings, and communicate regularly with parents to discuss students' progress, set goals, and coordinate services. Special education teachers advocate for students with disabilities, ensuring that they receive appropriate accommodations, services, and resources to succeed in school and beyond.
  • Professional Development and Continued Learning: Special education teachers engage in ongoing professional development and training to stay updated on best practices, research-based interventions, and legal requirements related to special education. They participate in workshops, conferences, and seminars, pursue advanced degrees or certifications, and collaborate with colleagues to share expertise and resources. Special education teachers continuously strive to improve their teaching practices and support the diverse needs of students with disabilities.

Types of Special Education Teachers There are various types of special education teachers, each specializing in a specific area of need or disability. Some of the most common types of special education teachers include:

  • Autism Teacher: These teachers work with students who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They may use specialized techniques such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) to help students develop social skills, communication skills, and independence.
  • Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Teacher: These teachers work with students who have emotional or behavioral disorders that may impact their ability to learn and interact with others. They may help students develop coping skills, build positive relationships, and manage their behavior in the classroom.
  • Learning Disabilities Teacher: These teachers specialize in working with students who have difficulties with reading, writing, or math. They may use specialized techniques to help students overcome these challenges and develop their skills in these areas.
  • Occupational Therapist : Occupational therapists work with students who have physical disabilities or challenges with fine motor skills. They may help students develop skills such as handwriting, dressing, or eating independently.
  • Physical Therapist : Physical therapists work with students who have physical disabilities or challenges with gross motor skills. They may help students develop skills such as walking, climbing stairs, or participating in physical education activities.
  • Speech and Language Pathologist : These professionals work with students who have communication disorders such as stuttering, language delays, or articulation disorders. They may work with students one-on-one or in small groups to help them develop their communication skills.

Are you suited to be a special education teacher?

Special education teachers have distinct personalities . They tend to be social individuals, which means they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly. They excel at socializing, helping others, and teaching. Some of them are also investigative, meaning they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if special education teacher is one of your top career matches.

What is the workplace of a Special Education Teacher like?

Special education teachers may work in a variety of environments, including public and private schools, specialized special education schools, inclusive classrooms, resource rooms, or self-contained classrooms dedicated to students with disabilities. These settings may range from elementary, middle, or high schools to specialized programs or alternative education centers.

Inclusive classrooms, where students with disabilities are integrated into general education classrooms alongside their peers without disabilities, are becoming increasingly common. In these settings, special education teachers collaborate closely with general education teachers to provide differentiated instruction, accommodations, and support to meet the diverse learning needs of all students. They may co-teach with general education teachers, provide push-in or pull-out support, or work in small groups to provide targeted interventions and assistance to students with disabilities.

Additionally, special education teachers may also spend time outside of the classroom attending meetings, collaborating with other professionals, and conducting assessments and evaluations. They work closely with parents, administrators, counselors, therapists, and support staff to develop and implement Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), monitor student progress, and ensure that students with disabilities receive the necessary services and supports to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Teaching/school related careers and degrees.

  • Adult Education Teacher
  • Art Teacher
  • Career Counselor
  • CTE Teacher
  • Dance Teacher
  • Distance Learning Coordinator
  • Elementary Teacher
  • ESL Teacher
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant
  • High School Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Middle School Teacher
  • Music Teacher
  • Physical Education Teacher
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Private Tutor
  • School Counselor
  • School Principal
  • Special Education Teacher
  • STEM Teacher
  • Substitute Teacher
  • Teacher Assistant
  • Virtual Teacher
  • Bilingual Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Educational Administration
  • Elementary Education
  • School Psychology
  • Special Education Teaching

Continue reading

Special Education Teachers are also known as: Special Education Resource Teacher Inclusion Teacher

Special Education Stats [2023 Update]

From the IDEA law’s enactment in 1975 to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the standards for special education vary to great extents among the states. These special education stats shed some light on how many students require special education, their problems, and how much support they receive from teachers and governments.

Special Education Statistics (The Highlights)

  • There are 7.2 million special needs students in the United States
  • 95.2% of school-age students served under IDEA are enrolled in regular schools.
  • The most prevalent disability among students in the US is a specific learning disability.

The US federal government allocated $17.1 billion for special education in 2022.

The median annual salary for special education teachers is $61,820..

  • At 20.5%, New York has the most significant percentage of students with disabilities enrolled in public schools.
  • 19% of American Indian students are attending special education classes.
  • 1 in 10 Australian students have a disability.

1.49 million UK students need special education.

  • There are 1.2 thousand special needs education schools in Japan.

Facts About Special Education

How many special needs students are there in the us.

There are 7.2 million students aged 3-21 studying under the IDEA. This makes up 15% of all public school students across the US.

For comparison purposes, there were 6.5 million students with special needs in the 2009–2010 school year, accounting for 13% of all students in the US.

Number of Special Education Students in the US

95.2% of school-age students served under IDEA are enrolled in regular schools. 

In addition, 2.6% attend separate schools (private or public), and 1.6% of special ed students are enrolled in private schools. According to special ed statistics, fewer than 1% of students served under IDEA are homeschooled, schooled in hospitals, or in separate residential and correctional facilities.

Special Education Student Enrolment by Type/Institution

Which disability Is the most prevalent among American schoolchildren?

The most prevalent disability among students aged 3 to 21 in the US is a specific learning disability. This represents a disorder in one or more basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using spoken or written language.

Most Common Disability Types Among American Students

19% of special education students have a speech or language impairment. 

15% of students have at least one other health impairment, while 12% of special ed students have autism.

This is approximately a $3.1 billion increase compared to the year before and roughly $3.8 billion more than it was spent in 2020.

Special education facts reveal that the lowest-earning 10% earn less than $46,180 per annum, while the highest-earning 10% earn more than $100,040.

Special education teachers held about 476,300 jobs in 2021.

Most, or 188,200, worked in kindergartens and elementary schools, while 147,200 were employed in secondary schools.

Number of Special Education Teacher Jobs by Type

Special education teacher jobs are expected to grow by 4% from 2021 to 2031. 

It’s expected that approximately 37,600 openings will be available for special education teachers each year, making the special education teacher a desirable career choice .

Learning Disabilities Statistics

What are the top 5 learning disabilities.

The five most common disabilities in schools are specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairment, other health impairments, autism, and developmental delay.

9.8% of US children have ADHD.

Usually diagnosed during childhood, ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder. According to the latest children with disability statistics, 6 million or 9.8% of kids in the US have been diagnosed with this disorder. Of these, 265,000 children are 3–5 years old, 2.4 million are 6–11-year-olds, and 3.3 million are 12–17.

Six in ten children with ADHD have at least one other disorder.

A national parent survey showed that it’s common for children with ADHD to have another mental, behavioral, and emotional disorder. For example, around half of them have a behavior problem, and about three in ten have anxiety. 

Data further shows that boys (12.9%) are more likely to get diagnosed with ADHD than girls (5.6%).

Dyspraxia is likely to affect as many as 6% of children.

The prevalence of learning disabilities, such as dyspraxia, or developmental coordination disorder (DCD), is hard to determine. However, according to the latest estimates, 6% of children are diagnosed with this condition. The data also shows that boys are four times more likely to be affected by it than girls.

One in ten Australian students have a disability.

37% of them say that they need more support, while 77% of them report having difficulties at school. 

This figure translates to 16.5% of students in the UK and signifies a meaningful decrease from 21.1% in 2010.

There are 1,171 special needs education schools in Japan.

The vast majority of these schools are local government-established facilities, while 15 of them are private schools.

The number of students with learning disabilities who spent time in regular classrooms doubled from 1989 to 2020.

The percentage of special education students in an inclusion classroom more than doubled between 1989 and 2017. In 1989, the percentage of students with special needs who spent at least 80% of their time in regular education classrooms was 31.7%. In 2020, this number rose to 66%.

Students With Disabilities Statistics

Nearly 17% of children in the us has a form of developmental delay..

The percentage of students with disabilities has been on the rise for the past two decades. In addition, according to the developmental delay prevalence data, boys are twice more likely to have a developmental delay than girls, especially in terms of ADHD, learning disabilities, and autism.

18% of students who receive special ed are male. 

In comparison, only 10% of school-age students who receive special education services under IDEA are female. 

Regarding services for specific learning disabilities, 42% of female students receive them, while the same applies to only 31% of their male counterparts. 

According to education statistics , 15% of male special ed students are receiving services for autism, while the same applies to only 6% of female students.

11.5% of students with disabilities have been diagnosed with autism.

The above figure translates to around 828,338 children and marks a significant increase since 2000, when only 1.5% of students had the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Furthermore, learning disabilities statistics indicate that boys are around five times more likely to have this disorder than girls.

What percentage of school-aged children does the federal government classify as visually impaired?

0.4% (or 25,565) of all children aged between three and 21 who receive special education have been classified as visually impaired. 

12.8% of college students reported having attention deficit disorders.

Based on a sample of 53,745 college students, it has been determined that 6,858 college students have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Moreover, 4.7% of the surveyed college students claim to have at least one learning disability.

Read more: Best Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities

75.9% of students with disabilities aged 14-21 graduated with a regular high school diploma in 2020. 

9.9% of them received an alternative certificate, while 12.6% dropped out of school. The rest left school for a variety of reasons which include reaching the maximum age, passing away, transferring to regular education, or moving. 

White students had the highest percentage of people graduating with a regular high school diploma (79%), while Black and Pacific Islander students had the lowest percentage, with 72% each.

School Exit Reasons of Special Ed Students Aged 14-21

89% of students with speech or language impairments graduate high school with regular diplomas.

Students with multiple disabilities have the lowest chance of graduating with a high school diploma since only 44% of them managed to do so. 

However, students who have intellectual disabilities and multiple disabilities have the highest rates of leaving high school with an alternative certificate, with 34% and 33%, respectively.

Distribution of Special Ed Students Aged 14-21 by Disability Type and School Exit Reasons

Special Education Statistics by State

At 20.5%, new york has the largest percentage of students with disabilities enrolled in public schools..

Maine and Pennsylvania follow with 20% and 19.9%, respectively. 

On the other end of the spectrum, the percentage of students with special needs goes as low as 11.3% in Texas and Hawaii.

The number of disabled students since 2000 grew 62.5% in Nevada. 

The number of special education students by state data reveals that all but 14 states saw growth in the number of disabled students since the 2000–01 school year. 

On the other side of the spectrum, Rhode Island experienced a significant decline of 22.1% during the same period.

22 states meet IDEA requirements regarding serving 3-21-year-old students with disabilities.

North Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah will likely join these 22 since the government officially states that these three need one-year assistance to meet IDEA’s requirements fully. None of the states need an intervention.

Special Education Statistics by Race

19% of american indian students are attending special education classes. .

17% of Black students and 15% of White students aged 3-21 can say the same. On the other hand, only 8% of Asian students are served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Percentage of Students Requiring Special Education by Race

Most Asians with disabilities have Autism (27.1%)

Percentage-wise, the second and third disabilities among Asian students aged 3-21 are speech or language impairments and specific learning disabilities, with 24.2% and 18.1%, respectively.

39% of Hispanic special education students have specific learning disabilities.

The same can be said for 21% of White students, while 34.8% of Black students served under IDEA report having at least one of the specific learning disabilities.

Final Thoughts

Although the government regularly increases the allocated budget for special education, the needs of special ed students still need to be met in all 50 states. These special education stats can shed some light on the current state of the entire education system and provide input on making special education an enjoyable and productive experience.

ACHA , AIHW , BLS , BLS , BLS , CDC , CDC , CDC , Ed.gov , Gov.uk , NCES , NCES , NCES , NCES , NCES , PLOS One , Statista

  • Grades 6-12
  • School Leaders

Creative Ways to Use Graphic Novels in the Classroom! 🎥

What Is Special Education? A Guide for Educators and Families

It’s a service, not a place.

Text that says What Is Special Education? on a pink background with #BuzzwordsExplained logo.

Students who are blind are provided with braille books. An autistic student uses a visual schedule. A student with a learning disability receives additional reading instruction. These students all receive special education services.

Special education provides services that meet the unique needs of each student. This means that special education can include:

  • An individualized curriculum that is different than general education peers’
  • A curriculum that is modified for a student
  • A combination of both

Here’s a roundup of everything you need to know about special education, plus our best special education articles.

What laws are involved in special education?

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that explains how states must address special education. The IDEA definition of special education is: specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. It includes physical education, related services (e.g., speech therapy, occupational therapy), vocational education, and travel training. Essentially, special education is how students with disabilities have their needs met in the public education system.

image-of-letters-i-d-e-a

Read more: What Is IDEA?

What about state laws?

IDEA sets the standard at the federal level, but the process and system are set up at the state level. So what special education looks like varies from state to state.

Visit your state’s Department of Special Education website or check out the parent resource center (every state has one) for information related to special education aimed at parents.

Find your state’s parent resource center in this list from Center for Parent Information & Resources .

How is special education not a “place”?

Special education can occur in many different settings, from the general education classroom to a hospital or separate school. Where a child receives services depends on their needs as determined by the IEP team, which includes the parents.

What are the main components of special education? (What do the acronyms stand for?)

infographic-of-fape

Image: Pathfinder Services of ND

FAPE is Free Appropriate Public Education. This essentially means that students with disabilities must be provided with their education at no cost to the parents, just like any other student.

Read more: What Is FAPE?

graphic-of-contiuum-of-placements

Image: Arizona Department of Education

LRE is Least Restrictive Environment. LRE is the setting where the child receives services and can vary from general education to a separate school or even the child’s home. The LRE is decided by the IEP team. According to IDEA, special education must be provided in the least restrictive environment, or the same environment as their nondisabled peers, “to the greatest extent possible.” This means that children should only be removed from general education when their disability is such that that they cannot make progress. So, all consideration of where a child will learn starts in general education and works back from there.

Read more: What Is Least Restrictive Environment?

flow-chart-explaining-specially-designed-instruction

Image: Coastal Carolina University

SDI is specially designed instruction. This is the foundation of what special education is based on—that every child receives the instruction that they need to make progress and advance toward goals. SDI means adapting the content, delivery, or methodology of instruction to address the child’s needs, as determined by the needs related to their disability. The focus is on helping the child meet educational standards and ensuring access to the general curriculum. To help children access general education curriculum, SDI provides adaptations, accommodations, and modifications.

Read more: What Is Specially Designed Instruction?

IEP is the Individual Education Program. The IEP is the document that outlines everything that a child requires to receive FAPE and SDI.

Read more: What Is an IEP?

Accommodations and Modifications

Special education infographic-comparing-accommodations-and-modifications

Image: The Bender Bunch

Accommodations and modifications are ways that SDI is delivered and how the curriculum is individualized for a child; ways that the child receives access to the general education curriculum. In short, accommodations change how the material is being presented in a way that helps the child overcome or access through the disability. Modifications change what a child is taught or how the child works at school. So, an accommodation would be: allowing a child to record rather than write their answers, or reading aloud a question rather than having them read it. A modification would be providing a child a text with visuals instead of the general education text, or providing a test with two answer choices instead of four.

Read more: Accommodations vs. Modifications: What’s the difference?

Bookmark:  80+ Accommodations Every Special Ed Teacher Should Bookmark

More IDEA terms are defined at Parent Center Hub .

Which students can receive special education and who decides?

Special education is provided to students who fall under one of 13 disability categories:

  • Developmental delay
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Vision impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Emotional disability
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Multiple disabilities

In order to receive special education services, a student must be found eligible. This means that they have one of the 13 disabilities and that it impacts them in the school setting. If the child cannot make progress in the general curriculum without SDI, they are eligible for special education services. (If they can make progress but still have an outside diagnosis, they may have a 504 plan in place instead.)

Read more: What Is a 504 plan?

An evaluation is different for each disability category (for example, an evaluation for traumatic brain injury will include a medical evaluation, while an evaluation for speech impairment will not). These regulations vary from state to state so it’s important to know your state’s requirements and timeline.

What is in an IEP?

The IEP includes all the information that the team needs to educate a child with a disability. It only addresses the aspects of a child’s disability that impact them throughout the school day. The sections of an IEP are:

  • Present levels: How the child is currently doing in school and how the disability impacts them in class.
  • Annual goals: Goals that the child will work on through SDI.
  • Objectives: Students who take alternate assessments will also have objectives towards their goals.
  • Measuring and reporting progress: Ways that the child’s progress is going to be measured and how it will be reported to parents.
  • Specially designed instruction: A statement about how special education and related services will be provided.
  • Related services include any therapies (speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy).
  • Supplementary aids and services provide access to participation across academic, extracurricular, and nonacademic settings.
  • Program modifications for school personnel, which include things that school personnel need to know in order to work with this student (for example, how to use an assisted communication device).
  • Extent of nonparticipation is the explanation of how much, if any, the child will be outside of general education, and why the team made that decision.
  • Accommodations that the student will be provided during classroom instruction.
  • Accommodations that a student will receive during district and state testing.
  • Service delivery includes when, where, and how long a child will receive SDI (for example, 30 minutes 1x/week in special education).
  • Transition planning for life after secondary school starts no later than a child’s 16th birthday (and can start earlier).
  • Age of majority: An IEP must include a statement about how the student understands their rights as they graduate from the IEP.

What happens in an IEP meeting?

There are many different reasons to come together around an IEP, but every year, each student who has an IEP will have an annual review. During an annual review meeting, the team (parent, teachers, a district representative, therapists) discuss the child, their progress, and next steps. Everything in the IEP should be based on data, so it’s important to bring information (e.g., work samples, test data) to review.

Any decision regarding an IEP is a team decision, and team members don’t always agree. If the meeting cannot resolve a concern, schools or parents can follow procedures to reach an agreement.

Read more: What Is an IEP meeting?

Read more: What Is a Manifestation Determination Meeting?

When does special education start and end?

A child can receive early intervention or special education services if they have a disability diagnosed before age 3 (such as Down syndrome) or if they are at risk of a delay.

Read more: What Is Early Intervention?

The end-date for a student who has an IEP depends on a few things. They may be reevaluated and found no longer eligible, in which case special education services would end at that point. Otherwise they are no long eligible when they graduate from high school or turn 22.

What is NOT special education?

There are misconceptions about special education. Some things that special education is not:

  • A specific program, like Orton-Gillingham
  • Differentiated instruction
  • An inclusive classroom

What else should I know?

Here are more of our favorite special education resources:

What Is Inclusion in Education?

27+ Best Autism Resources for Educators

If you’re still using these five words for students with disabilities, it’s time to stop.

New Ways To Empower Students Who Have Learning Differences or Dyslexia

How Teachers Can Support Twice-Exceptional Students

The IEP From A to Z: How To Create Meaningful and Measurable Goals and Objectives by Diane Twachtman-Cullen and Jennifer Twachtman-Bassett

10 Critical Components for Success in the Special Education Classroom by Marcia Rohrer and Nannette Samson

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs by Peter Wright, Pamela Wright, and Sandra Webb O’Connor

Do you teach special education? Connect with other teachers on the  WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

For more articles like this one,  subscribe to our newsletters..

Special education is a service, not a place. Here’s everything you need to know about it, plus plenty of resources for educators and families.

You Might Also Like

What is a 504 plan?

What Is a 504 Plan? What Teachers and Parents Need To Know

And how is it different from an IEP? Continue Reading

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. 5335 Gate Parkway, Jacksonville, FL 32256

  • Our Mission

What I’ve Learned From Special Ed Teachers

Special education teachers have valuable insights to share with their peers about patience, empathy, working with parents, and more.

A teacher and his young students sit on the rug in a circle.

Special education teachers are expected to do quite a lot: Assess students’ skills to determine their needs and then develop teaching plans; organize and assign activities that are specific to each student’s abilities; teach and mentor students as a class, in small groups, and one-on-one; and write individualized education plans in parent-friendly language.

In addition, they must know and apply the dozens of acronyms used in their field: ADA (American with Disabilities Act), DOR (Department of Rehabilitation), LEA (local education agency), PDD (pervasive developmental disorder), and LRE (least restrictive environment), to name just a few.

As I work with special education teachers, I remain awestruck by their energy, empathy, and excitement. Here’s what I’ve learned from them that has made me a better teacher.

1. Accept every student as they are. Students come to us with packages and baggage. Open and unpack slowly and gently, with kindness, respect, and understanding. Building a relationship with a student takes time and patience—allow it to happen organically. If you push it, shove it, or force it, you’ll have to start all over and it may or may not bloom.

2. Active listening is a gift. Every day, every student will have a problem—or something they perceive to be a problem. Stop, make eye contact, and listen. Don’t offer a solution until invited to do so. Don’t minimize their problem, experience, or situation. Don’t take their problem to the principal or other administrator until you’ve given the student time to think it through. Sometimes all they want is to be heard.

3. Scaffolding a lesson is just good teaching. Be prepared to break down a lesson and create pieces of learning. When each piece is explained, modeled, practiced, and applied, the parts fit together solidly to form a whole of understanding. Too much lecturing, too thick a packet, or too many directions can cause anxiety and disquiet. One small step at a time usually works best.

4. Be specific when sharing information with parents. When talking with parents, offer specific positives and exact concerns about their child’s abilities. Be careful of generalizations like always, never, usually, and sometimes. Give explicit examples and partner with parents to create opportunities for growth. Parents want to support teachers—show them how.

5. Eliminate jargon when talking with parents. Remember all those acronyms? If they must be used, use them sparingly and define each one. Acronyms can aid teachers in communicating with each other, but they build a divide with parents because using them is exclusionary—they’re a special language for educators. Building a partnership with parents means having a common vocabulary that inspires, not tires.

6. Students want to feel loved. Our students want to believe they’re the only ones in our class, on our caseload, or in our hearts. A small token of appreciation—a handwritten note, a quiet teacher-student lunch, or our cell phone number—tells that student we care about them and their academics. The importance of building relationships cannot be overstressed—students need us to show them that love is always possible.

7. Share what we’ve learned with others. Sharing resources and strategies with other teachers advances our students’ learning. Special education teachers are experts in the philosophy of differentiation. They don’t simply do differentiation—they employ it as a mindset needed to teach well. Demonstrating for one student how to apply a strategy will benefit all students.

8. Patience is a gift, a virtue, and a necessity. All of our students require patience, but some need a little more than others. Giving extra time for homework or a differentiated assessment could alleviate some of that challenge. Always remember that parents send to us their most precious possessions, hoping we’ll be humble, supportive, and empathetic.

9. Ask for help. Do not assume that you can teach, nurture, feed, clothe, and shelter every student on your caseload or in your class. Before you jeopardize your physical, emotional, and mental health, it’s important to ask for support. Your colleagues, school social worker, school psychologist, and other support staff are ready to help you help your students.

10. Laugh. There are some days when laughter might be the last thing you’re thinking of, but it may just be what you need. Our students come to us from different places—cognitively and logistically—yet a hearty chuckle or shared case of the giggles may help all of us take a step back and start again.

NASET.org Home Page

  • Overview of NASET
  • NASET Leadership
  • Directors' Message
  • Books by the Executive Directors
  • Mission Statement
  • NASET Apps for iPhone and iPad
  • NASET Store
  • NASET Sponsors
  • Marketing Opportunities
  • Contact NASET
  • Renew Your Membership
  • Membership Benefits
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Membership Categories
  • School / District Membership Information
  • Gift Membership
  • Membership Benefit for Professors Only
  • NASET's Privacy Policy
  • Forgot Your User Name or Password?
  • Contact Membership Department
  • Resources for Special Education Teachers
  • Advocacy (Board Certification for Advocacy in Special Education) BCASE
  • Board Certification in Special Education
  • Inclusion - Board Certification in Inclusion in Special Education (BCISE) Program
  • Paraprofessional Skills Preparation Program - PSPP
  • Professional Development Program (PDP) Free to NASET Members
  • Courses - Professional Development Courses (Free With Membership)
  • Forms, Tables, Checklists, and Procedures for Special Education Teachers
  • Video and Power Point Library
  • IEP Development
  • Exceptional Students and Disability Information
  • Special Education and the Law
  • Transition Services
  • Literacy - Teaching Literacy in English to K-5 English Learners
  • Facebook - Special Education Teacher Group
  • NASET Sponsor's Products and Services
  • ADHD Series

Assessment in Special Education Series

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders Series
  • Back to School - Special Review
  • Bullying of Children

Classroom Management Series

  • Diagnosis of Students with Disabilities and Disorders Series
  • Treatment of Disabilities and Disorders for Students Receiving Special Education and Related Services
  • Discipline of Students in Special Education Series
  • Early Intervention Series
  • Genetics in Special Education Series
  • How To Series
  • Inclusion Series
  • IEP Components
  • JAASEP - Research Based Journal in Special Education
  • Lesser Known Disorders
  • NASET NEWS ALERTS
  • NASET Q & A Corner

Parent Teacher Conference Handouts

The practical teacher.

  • Resolving Disputes with Parents Series

RTI Roundtable

Severe disabilities series.

  • Special Educator e-Journal - Latest and Archived Issues
  • Week in Review

Working with Paraprofessionals in Your School

  • Author Guidelines for Submission of Manuscripts & Articles to NASET
  • SCHOOLS of EXCELLENCE
  • Exceptional Charter School in Special Education
  • Outstanding Special Education Teacher Award
  • Board Certification Programs
  • Employers - Job Posting Information

Latest Job Listings

  • Professional Development Program (PDP)
  • Employers-Post a Job on NASET
  • PDP - Professional Development Courses
  • Board Certification in Special Education (BCSE)
  • Board Certification in IEP Development (BCIEP)
  • NASET Continuing Education/Professional Development Courses
  • HONOR SOCIETY - Omega Gamma Chi
  • Other Resources for Special Education Teaching Positions
  • Highly Qualified Teachers
  • Special Education Career Advice
  • Special Education Career Fact Sheets
  • FAQs for Special Education Teachers
  • Special Education Teacher Salaries by State
  • State Licensure for Special Education Teachers

Take the attitude of a student; never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.

special education teacher facts

The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) is the only national membership organization dedicated solely to meeting the needs of special education teachers and those preparing for the field of special education teaching.

Scientists have made a breakthrough in our understanding of how autism develops in the womb. The…

Homework tends to be a polarizing topic. While many teachers advocate for its complete elimination,…

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental…

From the moment you were born until about age 2, your brains' outer layer – the cortex – rapidly…

Interest in artificial intelligence has surged among K-12 and college educators, who are looking at…

See what members have to say about NASET -

Member's comments.

Explore the wealth of information and resources available to registered NASET members!

NASET Professional Development Program (PDP)

NASET has always provided an online platform that supplied the resources required for Special Education Professional Development. Over the years, we have added numerous courses, lectures, PowerPoint presentations, resources and e-Publications. In fact, the sheer volume of content has reached a point where another approach to maximize the primary function of professional development was needed. From this need for a better layout to allow for easier access and use of our website for Professional Development we created the PDP. To learn more - Click here

NASET e-Publications

Hundreds of e-Publications available for online viewing and as PDF files for downloading. All past articels are archived. Take a moment to review the large list of our e-Publications that grows monthly. - To learn more - Click here  

Professional Resources

Comprehensive resources from audio lectures, databases of informational resources, IEP development tool, Conferences, Teacher Forum and Much More...To learn more - Click here

Career Center

From the latest job listings to professional development courses, NASET 's Career Center provides you with tools and information to further your Career as a Special Educator. To learn more - Click here

Members Benefits -  Click here

special education teacher facts

Latest Issue of JAASEP

(journal of the american academy of special education professionals).

special education teacher facts

Click on the JAASEP Image for the Table of Contents

desk

NASET's Career Center showcases the latest job openings in special education.

Also, you'll find:

  • Career Advice
  • Book Resources
  • Tips on Resumes & Cover Letters
  • Interviewing Techniques
  • Special Ed Career Fact Sheets
  • Guidelines for Licensing and Certification in all 50 States

* Special Education Teacher, 6th-8th grade Intensive Support - To develop and implement individualized educational programs which address the needs of special education students at the grade level(s) they are assigned. The instruction will incorporate a collaborative and proactive approach to supporting students, especially those with unique needs, in behavior management, social skills, emotional awareness, cognitive problem solving, academic, prevocational and vocational, and transition skills. To learn more- Click here

* Lower School Learning Specialist - When passion and impact come together, an institution becomes more than a place to work. As many of our teachers and staff will tell you, Flint Hill is a place where they are challenged and inspired, and yet it still feels like home. To learn more- Click here

* Elementary School- Autism Teacher (SY 24 - 25) - Great Oaks Legacy Charter School is seeking a dynamic, mission-aligned educator to join our team as an Elementary School Autism Teacher to teach Pre-K - 4th Grade for the (2024-25) academic year. To learn more- Click here

* Middle School - Special Education Teacher (ERI) (SY 24 - 25) - Great Oaks Legacy Charter School is seeking a dynamic, mission-aligned educator to join our team as a Middle School - Special Education Teacher with a focus in Emotional Regulation Impairment (ERI) for 5th - 8th Grade for the (2024-25) academic year. To learn more- Click here

* Special Education Teacher - Your primary responsibility will be to create a positive and inclusive learning environment that promotes academic, social, and emotional growth for all students. This position requires excellent communication skills, strong organizational abilities, and a genuine passion for helping students with diverse learning needs. To learn more- Click here

Latest NASET

Special educator.

special education teacher facts

Click on the e-Journal Image for the Table of Contents

NASET Sponsored Facebook Special Education Teachers Group

NEW by  NASET

Survival guides , for special education teachers, to learn more - click here , naset spotlight, get board certified in iep development, get board certified in inclusion in special education, get board certified in sped advocacy through naset, naset professional development program  (pdp), 101 professional development courses, get board certified in special education through naset.

special education teacher facts

Here's What NASET Has to Offer

Take a moment to review the various e-Publications, professional development and special education resources.

NASET is proud to offer its' members free access to one of the most extensive and comprehensive sources of Professional Development courses available today. With over 100 courses ranging from 1 to 3 hours each, NASET provides it's members the opportunity for over 100 hours of professional development included with your membership in NASET.

Professional Development Courses (101 courses) - Free with Membership!

Board certification in special education (b.c.s.e.).

Board Certification in Special Education establishes a much needed standard for professionals, across disciplines, who work with exceptional children.

IEP Information

NASET provides the multiple areas with valuable information about IEPs. From a ePublication IEP Components to mutlple articles resources, forms, NASET has a wealth of information for the special education professional.

NASET Special Educator e-Journal

The online Special Educator e-Journal is published monthly throughout the year and provides timely information on what's current in special education.

The Special Educator’s List of 100 Forms, Tables, Checklists, and Procedures

This list is provided to all members of NASET to help facilitate the numerous tasks required on a daily basis. All documents are available to view online or download as a PDF file for offline printing.

NASETs' Week in Review

NASET's Week in Review is a weekly emailed publication that provides members with some of the most interesting stories, topics and issues reported during the week in the field of special education.

NASET News Alerts

NASET News Alerts provide the latest special education news as it happens. News Alerts are emailed, posted and through RSS feeds.

This series provides NASET members with an in-depth look at the step-by-step process of assessing students for eligibility and educational placement in special education.

Lesser Known Disorders in Special Education Series

This series is devoted to lesser known disorders that you may encounter in special education. While not as prevalent as other disorders experienced by most special education teachers, you should be aware of these disorders in order to become more knowledgeable, and increase your ability to assist patents of children with these disorders if they should appear in your classroom or school. Each month we will present a list of 3 disorders that appear in the special education population. Some of these  disorders may contain subtypes which will also be presented.

The NASET LD Report is an education resource that provides NASET members with a comprehensive overview of learning disabilities.  The NASET LD Report covers many areas of study in the field of LD.

The Practical Teacher is a monthly education resource that provides NASET members with practical tools, strategies, and relevant information that they can use both in and outside of the classroom.

Parent Teacher Conference Handouts can be given at the end of parent teacher conferences to reinforce concepts and help parents better understand information discussed at the conference. New additions are added monthly.

The NASET RTI Roundtable is an educational resource that provides members with the latest information on RTI.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Series

The NASET Autism Spectrum Disorder Series is an education resource that  focused on the research, writing, and practical information that we have obtained on causes, characteristics, eligibility, assessment, and teaching strategies.

Behavior Management Series

NASET’s Behavior Management Series is a unique guide for all teachers in helping to understand what their student’s behavior really means and how to identify and resolve the issue. This series offers teachers the insight into the inner dynamics, conflicts, fears, symptoms, tension, and so on of students who may be experiencing difficulty learning or behaving in the classroom.

The Classroom Management Series provide teachers with practical guidelines covering a variety of topics and supportive information which may help improve their classroom.

Researched Based Journal in Special Education

A Journal of Research Based Articles in Special Education are provided courtesy of The Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals ( JAASEP ). Each issue contains articles that are derived from multiple authors and are based upon the latest research in our profession.

This series is devoted exclusively to students with severe disabilities. This series will cover all aspects of students with severe disabilities focusing especially on understanding this population and what skills and information are necessary if you are asked to teach this population of students.

NASET Q & A Corner

At NASET , we get many questions from our members about certain areas of interest.  The NASET Q & A Corner provides all members with the opportunities to have access to these questions, and more importantly, answers to them from professionals in the field.

This series is intended to provide teachers, related service personnel, administrators, and other individuals charged with assisting in the development of the paraprofessional workforce with information and strategies to build strong, effective, supportive teams to ensure successful educational services for all students.

©2024 National Association of Special Education Teachers. All rights reserved

  • Skip to main content
  • Keyboard shortcuts for audio player

Behind The Shortage Of Special Ed Teachers: Long Hours, Crushing Paperwork

Man carrying huge stack of papers and papers strewn about

There is a letter that school districts really don't like sending home to parents of special education students. Each state has a different version, but they all begin with something like this:

"Dear Parent, as of the date of this letter your child's teacher is not considered 'highly qualified.' " And then: "This doesn't mean your child's teacher is not capable or effective. It means they haven't met the state standards for teaching in their subject."

Quick Facts

Report a shortage of special education teachers/related service personnel

12.3 percent

Of special education teachers leave the profession. Nearly double the rate of general education teachers

Of special educators across the nation report there are not enough professionals to meet the needs of students with disabilities

Of all school districts and 90 percent of high-poverty schools report having difficulty recruiting highly qualified special education teachers

( Compiled by the National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services )

In any other subject, that's an annoying problem that suggests students may not be well-served. In special education, it means the school district is breaking the law.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires that every student have what's known as an IEP — Individualized Education Program. And almost always, those IEPs spell out that students — either some of the time or all of the time — must be taught by a teacher fully certified in special education.

Yet around the country, that's exactly the category of teacher that's most in demand, as many states and districts are reporting severe shortages.

'Under A Microscope'

"This crisis has been coming for a long time," says David Pennington, superintendent of Ponca City public schools in Oklahoma. Many teachers there are nearing retirement and he's not sure he can replace them.

"Forget about replacing them with someone of the same quality," he says. "I'm just worried about replacing them. Period."

Pennington's rural district of 5,300 students northwest of Tulsa has been hit hard by the shortage. He says it's extremely difficult to persuade newer special education teachers to stay beyond two or three years.

On top of the normal demands of teaching, special education teachers face additional pressures: feelings of isolation, fear of lawsuits, and students who demand extra attention. Many are the only special-needs teacher in their grade or their school, or sometimes in the entire district.

"The job is not what they thought it was going to be," Pennington explains. "They feel like they're under a microscope all the time."

And then, there's the seemingly endless paperwork.

"It is not uncommon," Pennington says, "for a special ed teacher to tell me, 'I did not get a degree in special ed to do paperwork. I got a degree to help kids.' "

The IDEA and the IEP require hours and hours of filling out forms and writing reports documenting each student's progress.

"And when do teachers do that paperwork? Sometime during the hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.," says Deborah Ziegler of the Council for Exceptional Children, a special education research and advocacy group. "It's like having two full-time jobs."

So what's the answer? Aggressive recruitment, says Trevor Greene. He's the human resources director of Highline Public Schools, a 19,000-student district south of Seattle.

"Right now it's a buyers' market," he says. "Districts can't afford to wait around for the right candidate." And he's speaking from experience. When Greene started as HR director last July, he had 30 vacancies in special education to fill before school began in September.

"It was pretty ominous at the beginning," he recalls.

More On Teacher Shortages

Teacher Shortage? Or Teacher Pipeline Problem?

Teacher Shortage? Or Teacher Pipeline Problem?

Revolving Door Of Teachers Costs Schools Billions Every Year

Revolving Door Of Teachers Costs Schools Billions Every Year

Greene reached out on every teacher-recruitment platform he could find. He even tracked applicants down on LinkedIn.

Eventually, all 30 slots were filled.

Greene was even able to find certified special education teachers for all of the positions, which has become a rare occurrence. Many districts are able to fill vacancies only by hiring teachers trained in general education who are willing to make the switch to a special education setting.

Betty Olson, the special education administrator for the Boise public schools in Idaho, says she was forced to hire a few general education teachers this year.

As the school year approached she was prepared to send some of her district specialists, former teachers who now train new teachers, back into the classroom to fill vacancies.

It didn't come to that. But she now has the challenge of helping a slew of new teachers adjust to the world of special education.

Olson is getting some help from Boise State University, which has created a new program designed to prepare teachers with little or no experience in special education. Candidates are put on a fast track to complete a master's degree, and they receive one-on-one support as they begin their new career.

Similar programs have popped up around the country. "I'm hopeful things will get better," Olson says.

Other administrators, like Pennington from Oklahoma, are less optimistic.

He believes we're in for a rude awakening. He expects more and more teachers to look at all that responsibility, all that pressure, and conclude that it's not worth it.

And so, he wonders, "What happens when it gets so bad that you literally cannot find anyone to be in charge of a classroom?"

Correction Nov. 11, 2015

An earlier version of this story stated that Trevor Greene of the Highline, Wash., public schools had filled some special education teaching vacancies with teachers having only general education credentials. Greene says he was able to fill all of the positions with educators certified in special education.

Special Education Teachers: Top 26 Skills and Qualities Needed

  • Health Sciences
  • Careers for Veterans
  • College Advice
  • Completing Your Degree
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Earning a Master's in Education: A Complete Timeline

What Do Special Education Teachers Do? Three Responsibilities

  • Taking Higher Education One Step Higher
  • Putting his Faith in Education
  • What To Look For In Special Education Masters Programs
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Medical Imaging
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Online Learning
  • Public Health
  • Speech-Language Pathology

Are you excited by the idea of making an impact in the lives of students with learning differences? Children with a variety of learning challenges are often greatly affected in how they learn in the classroom and interact with others. Since special education teachers are meant to support this wide range of learning disabilities, their skills often extend far beyond conventional teaching methods.

To thrive in this fulfilling and impactful career, it’s important to understand what the role entails so you can provide inclusive learning environments, foster individual growth, and accommodate the diverse needs of your students. Here’s an overview of this incredibly rewarding career path, as well as the most important qualities and skills needed to be successful as a high quality special education teacher.

What Makes a Good Special Education Teacher?

Professionalism and ethical standards are essential skills to be a good special education teacher. Honesty, integrity, and fairness should guide your actions and decisions, while remaining up-to-date in this field will enable you to maintain a high level of professional competence.

Commitment to collaboration, self-awareness, reflection, and respect for diversity are additional qualities that are valued in special education teachers. These character traits are what Regis College looks for in prospective applicants to their Master’s in Teaching Special Education .

This is largely because special education teachers engage with parents and colleagues frequently to provide the best learning strategies for students that are both innovative and inclusive. “You can't do what the teacher next door does. It doesn't always work for your group of students,” says Dr. Priscilla Boerger, program director of Regis College’s Master’s in Teaching Special Education.

Want to learn more about Teaching Special Education? Download Our Free Checklist!

Download Your Checklist

Top Skills Required for Special Education Teachers

While the previously mentioned qualities are essential to your success as a special education teacher, there are additional qualifications and skills that can boost your potential for landing a special education teaching job.

When preparing to become a highly qualified special education teacher , it’s important to consider the baseline skills needed to be an effective educator. According to our analysis of job postings data, here are the top skills school districts and principals want in prospective teachers and how they can enhance your performance as a special education teacher.

Top Skills for Teachers

1. teaching.

As an educator, you’ll have the rewarding opportunity to guide and inspire students in the classroom. In the case of special education, this means breaking down complex concepts, adapting instructional strategies, and providing individualized support is crucial. No matter what population of students you work with though, effective teaching ensures all students receive the knowledge and skills they need to thrive academically and personally.

2. Communications

Communication is fundamental to your success as a teacher because it’s the cornerstone to how students absorb instruction, curriculum, and guidance. All children process information in their own way, but students with learning challenges may have impairments that limit speech, hearing, vision, or social awareness. As such, developing effective communication methods enables you to convey instructions, provide feedback, and address concerns that ensure everyone is on the same page in supporting student growth.

Writing skills are indispensable for teachers since assessments and curriculum materials are often written by the instructor. Special education teachers are responsible for additional written materials, such as individualized education plans (IEPs), progress reports, and other documentation to track student development. Writing also enables you to communicate clearly with other professionals—such as psychologists or speech therapists—who collaborate on education plans.

4. Planning

On a daily basis, teachers must manage their time well and plan activities to meet learning goals. Special education teachers have additional planning responsibilities that focus on the short- and long-term goals of students with various learning challenges. While short-term planning in special education may involve more immediate activities that can help inform students’ IEPs, long-term planning is meant to anticipate potential challenges, develop assessment models, and adapt strategies to accommodate diverse learning styles.

5. Management

Teachers are responsible for maintaining a positive learning environment that promotes student engagement. “Classroom management is key because without a managed classroom, learning's not happening,” says Boerger. By implementing consistent rules, routines, and behavior management strategies, you can support students in achieving their full potential and minimize disruptions. In this way, strong management skills enable you to create a safe and nurturing space where students can focus on learning.

6. Mathematics

Math proficiency is an important skill in the classroom because teachers often work with students who require additional support in this subject. Having a solid foundation in mathematical concepts and problem-solving strategies can actually aid in designing the most beneficial instruction techniques.

7. Interpersonal communications

In addition to communication with students, teachers are also constantly communicating with fellow educators and parents. Since special education teachers frequently collaborate with students, parents, and support professionals, having strong interpersonal communication skills can greatly improve the ability to advocate for student needs.

“Communication with parents and guardians is so critical to building partnerships with the families,” Boerger explains. “Teachers can't always do it alone, so having those families work with the teachers for their child's success is going to be critical.”

8. Research

Thorough research skills are beneficial when educators encounter unfamiliar situations. Not only does research keep you informed about best practices, but it also helps you discover new interventions and evidence-based strategies. By fostering ongoing professional development through research, you can make more informed decisions that positively impact student outcomes.

9. Leadership

Leadership skills are important for empowering teachers to advocate for students, influence positive change, and collaborate well within teams. By taking initiative, demonstrating strong communication skills, and being proactive in problem-solving, you can better support the overall success of your students.

10. Problem-solving

While all teachers need to be adaptive, special education teachers have to be flexible and creative when facing a variety of challenges. Some of these problems can range from disruptive behavior to resource management. By analyzing situations, assessing student abilities, and developing creative solutions, you can adapt your teaching strategies to address student needs.

special education teacher facts

Top Skills for Special Education Teachers

While these highly valued skills for teachers are important to your success in special education, there are a number of skills that are specific to the industry.

According to our analysis of job postings data, here are the top job-specific skills employers look for in a special education teacher.

11. Special education

Special education training equips teachers with the skills to evaluate learning disabilities and provide a safe, equitable learning environment. Special education teachers need to be knowledgeable of inclusive practices, legal requirements, and strategies to support students with diverse needs.

12. Individualized education programs (IEP)

Individualized education programs outline the specific goals, accommodations, and services for students with disabilities. Gaining a better understanding of how to develop and implement IEPs allows you to effectively assess students' strengths and needs, and ensure they closely align with the IEP objectives.

13. Lesson planning

Well-structured lesson plans are a major part of creating a rewarding classroom environment that caters to different learning abilities. For special education teachers, lesson planning involves selecting appropriate resources, setting benchmarks, incorporating accommodations, and designing objective-driven activities.

“From the very beginning, students write lesson plans in our program,” says Boerger. “They actually do what's called a ‘gateway assessment,’ which is where we assess them on reviewing a lesson to see if they can find things that are missing or how to make it better.”

14. Disabilities

A comprehensive understanding of disabilities is necessary to accommodate the unique challenges faced by students with learning differences. By recognizing the strengths and limitations associated with various disabilities, you can foster a nurturing environment for all students and implement individualized learning plans.

15. Classroom management

“Classroom management is not only important, but it's the skill that we hear from our supervising practitioners in the classrooms that students lack the most,” Boerger notes. Special education teachers must establish clear expectations and boundaries while offering positive reinforcement. They have to strike a good balance between offering consideration, driving progress, and limiting disruptions—which requires a mix of patience, confidence, and experience.

16. Autism spectrum disorders

Since children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are prevalent in special education, learning to identify characteristics, needs, and interventions specific to ASD is crucial. Teachers must be prepared to manage challenging behaviors and adapt instructional techniques to communicate better with these students. As a result, knowledge of ASD empowers you to promote social and academic growth for students on the spectrum.

17. Curriculum development

Special education teachers often play a role in curriculum development, ensuring that it’s accessible and adaptable for students with disabilities. By modifying curriculum materials, differentiating instruction, and incorporating multi-sensory approaches, you can provide meaningful learning experiences, while also addressing individual student goals.

18. Working with children

Educators who are passionate about working with children will be most successful in this career. Patience, empathy, and the ability to build rapport are essential in establishing positive relationships with your students and recognizing their individual strengths and interests. Focus on being an active listener, providing emotional support, and fostering a nurturing environment, so you can create a sense of belonging and trust.

19. Behavior management

Special education teachers have to be skilled at recognizing the underlying factors behind challenging behaviors. By promoting positive reinforcement, using visual cues, and implementing structured routines, you can support students in self-regulation and social-emotional development.

20. Instructional strategies

Having a rigid outlook won’t serve you well as an educator. Classroom teachers draw from a broad toolkit of instructional strategies, which they can tailor to different students based on cognitive and physical disabilities or behavioral challenges. To make the learning experience both practical and enjoyable, special education teachers must learn to deliver information in ways that are engaging and encourage students to take an active role in their own education.

special education teacher facts

Technology Skills Teachers Need

With the evolution of technology found in today’s classrooms—and the emergence of hybrid online learning—teachers are often expected to have a number of computer/technology skills to succeed. Special education is no exception.

According to our analysis of job postings data, here are the most sought-after technology skills for special education employers.

21. Microsoft Office (Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word)

Proficiency in Microsoft Office programs improves organization, communication, and instructional delivery. Educators need tools to track student progress, analyze data, create classroom materials, present information, connect with parents and peers, and keep records. Above all, mastery of widely used tools will make it easier to get acclimated to the teaching environment and support student learning.

22. Zoom (video conferencing tool)

Zoom and other video conferencing tools have become essential for remote learning and collaboration. Learning to host video calls enables you to conduct live online classes, hold virtual meetings, and facilitate remote check-in sessions with students and families. Video conferencing also allows for seamless communication and instructional continuity when students have health issues or personal challenges keeping them out of the classroom.

23. Student information systems

Student information systems (SIS) streamline administrative record-keeping and allow smoother collaboration across different special education services. Familiarity with SIS ensures efficient data management, improved student assessments, and increased evidence-based decision-making. Teachers also need to learn how to input and retrieve data correctly in these systems so school systems can maintain accurate records.

24. Learning management systems

Learning management systems (LMS) provide a centralized platform for delivering and organizing educational content. LMS tools help special education teachers create online learning materials, track student participation, enhance accessibility, and promote independent learning. Boerger urges prospective teachers to gain exposure to learning technologies as much as possible during training. “When you do observations or volunteer work, really pay attention to the technology being used so that you can become well-versed in it.”

25. Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets continue to be go-to tools for organizing and analyzing data, which helps teachers gain valuable insights into student performance. Having an advanced knowledge of spreadsheet functions also allows you to streamline common tasks and generate reports for more efficient decision-making.

26. Google classroom

Google Classroom is a popular platform for delivering online learning and managing workflows. By leveraging the platform’s many features, teachers can facilitate real-time collaboration, distribute assignments and resources, monitor student progress, and provide timely feedback.

special education teacher facts

Become a Qualified Special Education Teacher

The impact of effective special education extends far beyond academics, as demonstrated by these top skills in the field. “Teaching special education is not for everybody, but we do need qualified teachers. There are a lot of kids who need a different way of teaching, and a different way of learning,” says Boerger.

Qualified special education teachers can help close today’s learning gap and build more inclusive environments that foster academic growth and social development. Luckily our analysis of occupation data reveals that special education teaching jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 9.5 percent from 2021 to 2031.

special education teacher facts

So if you’re interested in supporting children with unique needs, consider speaking with an admission counselor to learn more about the special education degree program at Regis College. This program can help you develop the skills needed to provide quality special education needed to reap the many benefits of becoming a special education teacher.

Download the free checklist

Related Blogs

special education teacher facts

If you’re interested in providing support for children with learning challenges, here’s an overview of what a special education teacher does.

special education teacher facts

Earning a Master's in Education: A Complete Timeline

If you want to earn a master's degree in education, it's essential to understand whether or not this education will fit into your current schedule.

special education teacher facts

How To Switch Careers To Teaching: Seven Steps

Are you considering switching to a teaching career? Here are the steps you need to take to switch careers to teaching, and the benefits of doing so.

June 23, 2023

  • 235 Wellesley Street, Weston MA 02493
  • 781.768.7000
  • © 2024
  • Privacy Policy
  • Degrees Associate Degrees Bachelor's Degrees Master's Degrees Doctorate Degrees Online Programs Online Associate Degrees Online Bachelor's Degrees Online Master's Degrees Online Doctorate Degrees Degrees by State Top Ranked Schools
  • Subjects All Subjects and Degree Programs Agricultural Studies Architecture Design Biological Sciences Business Management Computer Science Culinary and Cosmetic Services Engineering Health Professions and Medical Services Humanities and Liberal Arts Legal Studies Mechanical and Electrical Repair Media Related Communications Physical Science Psychology School Administration Transportation and Distribution Services Visual and Performing Arts
  • Careers Career Aptitude Tests Career Planning Career Profiles Career Roadmaps Career Training FAQs Education and Career FAQs Job Resume FAQs Salary FAQs
  • Resources All Articles All Videos Scholarships

In order to continue enjoying our site, we ask you enter in the text you see in the image below so we can confirm your identity as a human. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

ABOUT LEARN.ORG

  • Privacy Policy
  • © Copyright 2003- 2024 Learn.org, all rights reserved.

Subscribe to Student Saver

Free breaking news and coverage of savings in education

special education teacher facts

TED is supported by ads and partners 00:00

The truth about special education

Facts.net

18 Myths And Facts About Special Education

Allyce Rucker

Written by Allyce Rucker

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

  • Social Sciences

18-myths-and-facts-about-special-education

Special education is a crucial component of our educational system, providing support and tailored instruction to students with disabilities. However, there are often misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding the field of special education. In this article, we will debunk 18 common myths and shed light on the facts about special education.

By addressing these myths , we aim to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges and successes within the special education community. Whether you are a parent, teacher, administrator, or simply curious about special education, this article will provide you with valuable insights and accurate information. So, let’s dive in and separate fact from fiction when it comes to special education.

Key Takeaways:

  • Special education is not just for severe disabilities. It helps students with diverse needs, including gifted students, and focuses on high expectations and individualized support.
  • Special education promotes inclusivity and collaboration with general education, providing tailored support for students with disabilities within an inclusive educational framework.

Myth 1: Special education is only for students with severe disabilities.

Fact: Special education services cater to a wide range of students with diverse needs, including those with mild to moderate disabilities, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, autism, ADHD , and more.

Myth 2: Special education segregates students from the regular classroom.

Fact: Special education emphasizes inclusion and providing individualized support within the regular classroom setting whenever possible, promoting interaction and socialization with peers.

Myth 3: Special education is a separate school.

Fact: Special education can be provided in various settings, including separate classrooms, resource rooms, or through support within the general education classroom.

Myth 4: Special education is not necessary for gifted students.

Fact: Special education also addresses the unique needs of gifted and talented students, providing enrichment opportunities and tailored instructional strategies to support their advanced abilities.

Myth 5: Special education is a one-size-fits-all approach.

Fact: Special education is highly individualized, with specialized plans, interventions, and accommodations designed to meet each student’s specific needs.

Myth 6: Special education means lowering academic expectations.

Fact: Special education focuses on setting high expectations for all students, while providing the necessary support and accommodations to help them reach their full potential.

Myth 7: Special education teachers are less qualified than regular education teachers.

Fact: Special education teachers undergo specialized training and certifications to equip them with the skills and knowledge to meet the diverse needs of students with disabilities .

Myth 8: Special education is a financial burden on schools.

Fact: While special education services require additional resources, they are mandated and funded by federal and state laws to ensure that all students receive appropriate and necessary support.

Myth 9: Special education students cannot participate in extracurricular activities.

Fact: Special education students have the right to participate in extracurricular activities and should be provided with the necessary accommodations and support to facilitate their involvement.

Myth 10: Special education is only focused on academic support.

Fact: Special education encompasses a holistic approach, addressing not only academic needs but also social, emotional, and behavioral aspects to promote overall well-being.

Myth 11: Special education is a permanent label.

Fact: Special education is a flexible system that regularly monitors and reassesses students’ progress. The goal is to provide appropriate support so that students can eventually transition out of special education services if their needs change.

Myth 12: Special education is only for children.

Fact: Special education services are available for individuals of all ages, from infants and toddlers through adulthood, ensuring that individuals with disabilities continue to receive support throughout their lives.

Myth 13: Special education students are less likely to succeed in higher education or employment.

Fact: With appropriate support and accommodations, special education students can achieve academic success and go on to pursue higher education or meaningful employment, just like their peers.

Myth 14: Special education is a result of poor parenting or lack of discipline.

Fact: Special education focuses on addressing students’ specific learning needs, which are not caused by parenting or disciplinary issues. It is about providing the necessary tools and strategies to help students thrive academically and socially.

Myth 15: Special education students are limited in their career options.

Fact: Special education equips students with the skills, support, and accommodations needed to explore a wide range of career paths and succeed in their chosen fields.

Myth 16: Special education is a burden on students without disabilities.

Fact: Special education benefits all students by fostering inclusivity, empathy, and understanding of individual differences. It creates a diverse and enriched educational environment.

Myth 17: Special education is a form of “dumbing down” education.

Fact: Special education is about providing equitable opportunities, tailored instruction, and targeted supports to ensure that students with disabilities can fully access and engage in the general curriculum.

Myth 18: Special education is a separate system disconnected from general education.

Fact: Special education works collaboratively with general education to provide the necessary support and services for students with disabilities within an inclusive educational framework.

Understanding the realities of special education is crucial in promoting inclusivity, fostering positive attitudes, and ensuring equal opportunities for all students. By debunking these myths, we can create a more supportive and inclusive educational environment.

In conclusion, understanding the myths and facts about special education is crucial for creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students. By debunking these misconceptions and spreading accurate information, we can ensure that every child has equal opportunities to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.Special education plays a vital role in providing tailored instruction and support for students with diverse learning needs. It is important to recognize that special education is not a one-size-fits-all approach but rather a personalized approach that takes into account the unique strengths and challenges of each student.By addressing the myths surrounding special education, we can break down barriers, promote inclusion, and foster a society that celebrates diversity and empowers every individual to reach their full potential.

Q: Is special education only for students with intellectual disabilities?

A: No, special education is designed to support students with a wide range of disabilities including learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, autism, and physical disabilities .

Q: Are all special education students taught separately from their peers?

A: Not necessarily. Inclusive education is an important approach in special education where students with disabilities are included in general education classrooms with appropriate supports and accommodations.

Q: Is special education placement permanent?

A: Special education placement is determined through an individualized assessment and can be reviewed and adjusted based on the progress and needs of the student. It is not necessarily a lifelong placement.

Q: Do special education students have lower academic expectations?

A: Absolutely not. Special education is designed to provide appropriate supports and accommodations to help students meet their academic goals. The expectations for special education students are individualized and based on their unique abilities and potential.

Q: Are parents involved in the special education process?

A: Yes, parents play a crucial role in the special education process. They are involved in the assessment, development of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and ongoing collaboration with teachers and professionals to ensure their child’s needs are met.

Was this page helpful?

Our commitment to delivering trustworthy and engaging content is at the heart of what we do. Each fact on our site is contributed by real users like you, bringing a wealth of diverse insights and information. To ensure the highest standards of accuracy and reliability, our dedicated editors meticulously review each submission. This process guarantees that the facts we share are not only fascinating but also credible. Trust in our commitment to quality and authenticity as you explore and learn with us.

Share this Fact:

Why Is There a Special Education Teacher Shortage?

A special education teacher works with a student.

Special education teachers ensure an equitable education to millions of students across the nation. With 14 percent of students needing some type of special education service, these teachers play a key role in making sure all students have a chance to thrive academically. General education teachers and students alike rely on special education teachers’ specialized knowledge in skills assessment and the development of learning activities with special needs and disabilities in mind. For this reason, the current special education teacher shortage is especially worrying. So, what’s causing this shortage, and how can leaders begin to address it?

Current and aspiring educators looking for a deeper analysis of the issue should consider American University’s online School of Education , which offers students expert knowledge about special education challenges, preparing them to address the current shortage.

An Overview of the Current Special Education Teacher Shortage

Special education teacher shortages have persisted for years, putting the education of the country’s most vulnerable students in a precarious position. The Office of Special Education Programs currently lists the national shortage at 8 percent. This large and growing problem affects schools across the country, but the shortage pertains to more than just insufficient numbers of special education teachers.

The shortage also refers to inadequate numbers of properly trained special education teachers. In fact, many first-year special education teachers across the country have not completed special education preparation programs. In California for example, of the 8,470 new special education teachers hired in 2017-18, only 3,274 were fully credentialed.

To gain more insight into the special education teacher shortage, consider the following statistics:

  • Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia lack sufficient special education teachers.
  • Special education teachers leave teaching at almost double the rate of general education teachers.
  • More than half of all school districts struggle to staff well-qualified special education teachers.
  • Ninety percent of high-poverty school districts struggle to staff well-qualified special education teachers.
  • Up to 29 percent of vacated special education teacher positions are due to attrition.

Unequal Distributions of the Special Education Teacher Shortage

While the special education teacher shortage affects schools across the spectrum, it tends to impact high-poverty schools most acutely. They face the greatest challenges when it comes to attracting properly trained and experienced special education teachers.

In recent years, enrollment in all teacher preparation programs has dropped considerably, and the number of people completing special education programs has dropped 14 percent, meaning fewer credentialed teachers are available for a growing number of vacancies. Low-income and rural schools find it especially hard to attract and retain the dwindling number of special education teachers. The special education teachers these schools do manage to hire often have less experience than those hired by more affluent schools. For example, many special education teachers in urban and rural districts work with provisional licenses after meeting just a few requirements:

  • An undergraduate degree
  • Nine credit hours of coursework covering both general and special education
  • Successful completion of a basic skills exam

Typically, special education teachers at high-poverty schools have received less special education training and are more likely to hold certifications in areas other than special education compared with teachers at low-poverty schools.

Attrition and the Consequences of the Special Education Teacher Shortage

Data shows that teachers with limited preparation tend to drop out of the profession more frequently than those who finish traditional preparation programs. The reliance on provisional and alternative credentialing programs that send underprepared special education teachers into classrooms contributes to the high teacher turnover rate.

This constant churn of losing and rebuilding teaching faculties comes at a price. Several studies have shown teacher attrition can lower student achievement in English language arts and math and hurt the overall effectiveness of teachers in a school. In addition to the academic price, teacher attrition has a huge financial price tag: the Learning Policy Institute estimates it costs approximately $8 billion dollars a year. As teachers cycle through the profession in increasing numbers, districts must funnel huge amounts of money into recruiting and training new educators to replace them.

The public school system is based on equity. The reputations of the teaching profession and the system rest on their ability to provide stable learning environments to all students. As such, the ongoing special education teacher shortage compromises the entire public school system and tarnishes the profession’s reputation. It creates instability, limits students’ learning opportunities, and results in countless hours of lost instructional time. Additionally, the fact the shortages disproportionately affect marginalized students widens the achievement gap and raises questions of educational equity.

A Look at the Reasons Behind the Special Education Teacher Shortage

Several factors are driving the special education teacher shortage. As mentioned, steep enrollment declines in teacher education programs, alongside high attrition for special education teachers, contribute to the shortage. Working conditions, low pay, and insufficient training and support also factor heavily.

Stressful Working Conditions for Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers often work in stressful environments. Just like general education teachers, they must deal with the challenges of student poverty, insufficient parental involvement, student absenteeism, and a lack of resources. However, they also must contend with excessive paperwork and overwhelming caseloads without the support they need.

For example, special education teachers can find themselves in classrooms without aides trying to teach 20 students with different special needs who require customized instruction. On top of that, they may have a caseload of 20 students who require individualized education programs (IEPs), annual testing, and regular meetings with parents and other teachers. Additionally, failing to meet deadlines or submit necessary paperwork can constitute a federal offense, as IEPs are federally mandated, which puts further pressure on special education teachers.

Low Pay for Teachers

Stressful jobs deserve commensurate compensation. However, compared with similarly trained and educated professionals in other fields, teachers earn considerably less, and this discrepancy in pay has grown considerably in the last 20 years. According to the Learning Policy Institute, new teachers make about 20 percent less than other college graduates just starting off in their careers. By the time teachers reach the middle of their careers, their earnings are 30 percent behind the salaries of similarly educated professionals.

This low pay not only leaves many teachers feeling undervalued but also makes it all the more difficult for them to pay off student loan debts, which have ballooned in recent years as the cost of higher education has increased. Considering the particularly higher barriers of entry to becoming a teacher, which alone can discourage prospective candidates, low teacher pay can be a significant deterrent and is partially to blame for the current shortage.

Insufficient Support for Special Education Teachers

All special education teachers face significant challenges, but for those entering the classroom with limited preparation and support, the challenges can be insurmountable. Too often, special education teachers do not receive the training, professional development, or help they need to succeed. This is especially true for special education teachers in low-income schools. Feeling ineffectual and overstressed, many special education teachers change professions or retire early.

Learn More About How Education Leaders Can Address the Special Education Teacher Shortage

Education leaders must address the special education teacher shortage if they hope to fulfill the promise of providing an equitable education to all. Ensuring that schools have sufficient numbers of well-trained special education teachers will play a critical role in closing the achievement gap. It will also create the stability needed to raise student achievement across the board.

Explore how the online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) , online Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership (MEd) , and online Doctor of Education in Education Policy and Leadership (EdD) programs at American University’s online School of Education equip educators with the expertise in special education needed to solve the shortage problem.

Disproportionality in Special Education: Impact on Student Performance and How Administrators Can Help

The Role of Special Education Teachers in Promoting an Inclusive Classroom

Why Do Teachers Strike? Understanding How Policy Makers Can Help

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, “Teacher Supply: Interns, Permits, and Waivers”

California’s Teacher Association, “California’s Special Education Teacher Shortage”

Economic Policy Institute, “The Teacher Shortage Is Real, Large and Growing, and Worse Than We Thought”

EdSource, “Amid Shortages, Schools Settle for Underprepared Special Education Teachers”

Edutopia, “What I’ve Learned From Special Ed Teachers”

eLuma, “The Special Education Teacher Shortage”

Forbes , “Enrollment in Teacher Preparation Programs Down a Third in This Decade: Six Troubling Trends”

The Graide Network, “The Impact of Teacher Turnover on Student Learning”

Learning Policy Institute, “About Teacher Turnover Calculations”

Learning Policy Institute, “California’s Special Education Teacher Shortage”

Learning Policy Institute, “Why Addressing Teacher Turnover Matters”

National Center for Education Statistics, “Students With Disabilities”

National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services, “About the Shortage”

National Education Association, “Teacher Shortage Is ‘Real and Growing, and Worse Than We Thought’”

Teacher Education and Special Education, “Special Education Teacher Shortage: Differences Between High and Low Shortage States”

Request Information

AU Program Helper

This AI chatbot provides automated responses, which may not always be accurate. By continuing with this conversation, you agree that the contents of this chat session may be transcribed and retained. You also consent that this chat session and your interactions, including cookie usage, are subject to our  privacy policy .

The Edvocate

  • Lynch Educational Consulting
  • Dr. Lynch’s Personal Website
  • Write For Us
  • The Tech Edvocate Product Guide
  • The Edvocate Podcast
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Policy
  • Assistive Technology
  • Best PreK-12 Schools in America
  • Child Development
  • Classroom Management
  • Early Childhood
  • EdTech & Innovation
  • Education Leadership
  • First Year Teachers
  • Gifted and Talented Education
  • Special Education
  • Parental Involvement
  • Policy & Reform
  • Best Colleges and Universities
  • Best College and University Programs
  • HBCU’s
  • Higher Education EdTech
  • Higher Education
  • International Education
  • The Awards Process
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2023 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Award Seals
  • GPA Calculator for College
  • GPA Calculator for High School
  • Cumulative GPA Calculator
  • Grade Calculator
  • Weighted Grade Calculator
  • Final Grade Calculator
  • The Tech Edvocate
  • AI Powered Personal Tutor

Teaching Students About the Volkswagen Thing: An Unconventional Approach

Teaching students about the american renaissance, teaching students about the first flight to the moon, teaching students about if christians are catholic, teaching students about jean arthur: an enlightening journey through the life of a hollywood icon, teaching students about reefer madness: understanding the history and dispelling the myths, teaching students about the meaning of “culminated” in a sentence, teaching students about mug shots: a valuable lesson in civics and law enforcement, teaching students about family words list, thank you messages for gift, 12 things that special education teachers need to know.

special education teacher facts

Are you thinking about become a special education teacher but don’t feel prepared. If so, here are 12 things that you need to know .

What are IEP Annual Goals?                     

These are learner’s goals that are related to their IEP. This goal highlights the expected results for the progress of the learner in the next year. These goals have to be realistic and achievable as well as measurable and objective. Both academic and functional goals are aimed at addressing the behavioral and learning difficulties that come about due to the learner’s disability. This must be constructed with consideration for how the kid’s disability might impact performance standards.

What is an IEP Annual Review?    

The IEP annual review is an IEP team meeting that is made compulsory for both parents and academic professionals. The school district is required to both inform parents of the timing of the meeting and adjust the scheduling to work with the availability of the parents. During the course of the conference, it is important for all aspects of the IEP to be factored into consideration and for the children to be treated as individuals rather than as a group with abstract qualities.

What is a Behavior Crisis Plan?   

Behavior crisis plan is an action plan that is used in situations where s specific learner is in danger of self-harm or harm to others. To construct this plan accurately and effectively, someone who knows the kid in question and a professional who can carry out a mental health crisis response. This plan must be actionable and based on personalized information and strategies that are regularly reviewed by the IEP team.

The IEP has to factor in any procedures or policies that are useful for supporting a learner who is experiencing a crisis. It could also be possible that the kid’s behaviors during a crisis could be considered breaches of the school’s discipline policy. In the event of such a situation, the IEP team should make a proper analysis of the situation to determine whether the kid’s crisis behavior should be responded to with disciplinary action.

What is Behavior Management?    

Behavior management involves the techniques, methods and strategies that are used to encourage positive behaviors and limit negative behaviors.

What is Positive Behavior Support?                           

This is a process that is used to solve behavioral problems that children may have. It helps instructors understand the causes of certain behavioral and emotional responses in children. By understanding where the problem behaviors stem from, it becomes easier to help the kid free themselves from their attachment to such problematic behaviors.

What is Bilingual Special Education?  

Bilingual special education is an educational approach that involves the use of both the English language and the learner’s native language and culture as the official instructional languages of the classroom.

What is Early Childhood Special Education?  

These are the special services given with the intention of supporting individuals with disabilities, usual learners between the ages of one to five years old. This is usually used to help children with disabilities develop the skills they will need for their academic activities. This includes counting, reading, differentiating between colors etc. They also provide support in developing motor skills such as writing, drawing, cutting etc. They also help them develop social skills and learn how to interact with other students within a classroom environment.

What are IEP Goals?

These are the goals that have been specified in a learner’s IEP that are used to determine whether the learner is achieving the expected academic progress. Special education learners all require a personalized education plan that will be tailored to suit their unique needs, this is why it is important to carefully draw up IEP goals.

What is the IEP Process?    

This is a process through which a learner is implemented into the individualized education program. It starts from when a learner is given a referral for special education service up to the implementation of the IEP throughout the time it would be active. It is compulsory that every child receiving special education services has an IEP.

What is an IEP Team?                    

This is a team of teachers from multiple disciplines that work with learners and parents to provide the most effective education possible with the help of an IEP. The team may include special education teachers or professionals who are experts on the learner’s condition.

What is People-First Language?    

This refers to the appropriate ways of referring to people with disabilities. It emphasizes the placing of the individual before their disability. E.g., a person who is deaf, instead of a deaf person—placing the disability before the person dehumanizes them and makes their disability their identity.

What is Pre-Referral?                     

This is used to depict the procedures that go into assisting learners in fitting into the traditional educational experience before going for the option of special education services. This step is necessary for the identification and implementation of strategies that will help learners overcome the difficulties they experience in the classroom before they get tested for special education.

Helping Students Develop Thoughtful Opinions and Make ...

A fun way to introduce new concepts.

' src=

Matthew Lynch

Related articles more from author.

special education teacher facts

2023 Best Colleges & Universities for People with Disabilities

special education teacher facts

Understanding Three Key Classroom Management Theories

pass or fail

Using Technology to Empower Students with Special Needs

special education teacher facts

What to Do When Your Child Struggles with Verbal Comprehension

special education teacher facts

Understanding Auditory Processing Disorder in Children

special education teacher facts

Supporting Parents of Children with Autism: The Role of Educators

Interesting Facts About Being a Special Ed Teacher

  • Computer Services Jobs
  • ')" data-event="social share" data-info="Pinterest" aria-label="Share on Pinterest">
  • ')" data-event="social share" data-info="Reddit" aria-label="Share on Reddit">
  • ')" data-event="social share" data-info="Flipboard" aria-label="Share on Flipboard">

Duties and Responsibilities of a Special Education Paraprofessional

Job description of a general music teacher, what do people in college have to study if they want to become a teacher.

  • What Are The Duties of an Inclusion Teacher?
  • The Responsibilities of an Intervention Teacher

Special education teachers provide instruction for students with a variety of mental, physical and emotional disabilities. Some students may have a severe physical disability, such as a total loss of vision or hearing. Others may have issues such as depression or anxiety. The goal of special education teachers is to ensure that all students have access to the same opportunities for education, regardless of disability.

Student Ages

Special education teachers work with students of all ages. Depending on the severity of the child’s disability, they may start teaching students who are still infants or toddlers. Although most students do not continue with special ed teachers beyond high school, those with severe disabilities may need their services until the student reaches the age of 21.

Education Plans

Special education teachers must create an individual education program for each student. General education teachers, parents, counselors and, at times, the student, contribute to the plan’s development. Each IEP must list the services the student needs, such as counseling sessions or individual instruction from the special ed teacher. The special ed teacher has the responsibility of ensuring all services included in the IEP are made available to the student. In the case of older students, the special ed teacher may also have the responsibility to help students learn to live independently, teaching skills such as time management or handling a checking account.

Classroom Environment

Not all students with special needs attend segregated classes. Some students may attend general classes and visit a special ed teacher only when they need help with a particular subject or task. Some classrooms include both a general education and special education teacher. Students with mild learning problems may attend only integrated classes, with a special ed teacher acting as a consultant to the general teacher to help ensure lesson plans meet the requirements of the special needs students.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 17 percent by 2020 for special ed teachers of all student ages. The greatest growth – 21 percent – is predicted for special ed teachers from preschool level through elementary school, with a 20-percent growth rate predicted at the middle school level. This growth rate compares favorably to the 17-percent increase predicted for general education teachers of kindergarten through middle school. The slowest growth for special ed teachers is at the high school level, which the BLS projects at seven percent, identical to the predicted rate for high school general education teachers.

According to data published by the BLS for May 2010, the median annual salary for special ed teachers was $53,220 annually. By grades taught, this breaks down to a median salary of $54,810 at the high school level, $52,250 for preschool through elementary school and $53,440 at the middle school level.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Special Education Teachers Do
  • O*Net Online: Summary Report for Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School
  • O*Net Online: Summary Report for Special Education Teachers, Secondary School
  • O*Net Online: Summary Report for Special Education Teachers, Preschool
  • O*Net Online: Summary Report for Special Education Teachers, Middle School
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Special Education Teachers – Job Outlook
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers – Job Outlook
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Middle School Teachers – Job Outlook
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: High School Teachers – Job Outlook
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Special Education Teachers - Pay

Jeffrey Joyner has had numerous articles published on the Internet covering a wide range of topics. He studied electrical engineering after a tour of duty in the military, then became a freelance computer programmer for several years before settling on a career as a writer.

Related Articles

Characteristics of a special education teacher, characteristics of a paraprofessional in education, salaries for early childhood teachers including kindergarten teachers, the role of a special ed teacher in an inclusion classroom, how much does a teacher for deaf children earn, how much do special educators get paid per hour, how much do special education teachers make in texas, the annual salary of a first-year teacher, social issues that special education teachers face, most popular.

  • 1 Characteristics of a Special Education Teacher
  • 2 Characteristics of a Paraprofessional in Education
  • 3 Salaries for Early Childhood Teachers Including Kindergarten Teachers
  • 4 The Role of a Special Ed Teacher in an Inclusion Classroom

California Special Needs Law Group

Ten Special Education Facts That Might Surprise You

special education teacher facts

In the labyrinth of special education rules, regulations, facts and figures, the ordinary visitor is bound to overlook certain details. Even an experienced parent, who has been studying the details for some time may be surprised by what they find after extensive research.

special education teacher facts

Brush up on some laws and facts that you might have missed the first time reviewing all there is to know about special education. Below are some myths debunks, some facts uncovered, and some information reviewed about special education and learning disabilities.

1. Jean-Mark-Gaspard Itard, a French physician, is considered to be “The Father of Special Education.” Even though Special Education laws weren’t passed until 1975, with the Education of the Handicapped Act, Itard was attempting to educate children with mental disabilities in a systematic fashion as early as the late 1700s and early 1800s. He is particularly famous for his work with Victor, a feral child known as the “ Wild Boy of Aveyron .” Itard developed a program, considered by many as the first attempt at special education, to teach Victor language and empathy.

2. More boys than girls are being diagnosed with learning disabilities. Nearly four times as many boys are diagnosed with LD, but that doesn’t mean that there’s a gender discrepancy in having a learning disability. It’s just that many girls are going unidentified or treated for their LD.

3. There aren’t waiting lists for special education. In fact, a “waiting list” for special education is illegal. A school must provide the appropriate IEP, resources, and teachers for a child that needs special education. Schools are permitted a certain time frame in which to evaluate the student, develop a personalized education program, and begin providing the services—anything that extends beyond that time frame violates the law.

4. If you disagree with the school’s proposed IEP, sign it immediately . This advice is counterintuitive, as you are unlikely to want to sign anything with which you disagree. However, in most states, signing it, including your concerns and then filing a complaint is the best course of action to address the issue immediately—otherwise, it is assumed that you have implied consent even without signing it. If you are not sure as to the process of filing a complaint or how to address a dissatisfactory IEP, contact a special needs advocate or attorney for advice and assistance.

5. You legally can bring anyone as an advocate to the IEP meeting. If you are the parent of a student with a disability, by law, you can bring whomever you want as an advocate. Ideally, you would want to bring someone who is familiar with the process, and some of the laws, and has the best interest of your child in mind. This is particularly important if you are very new to the process, are too “close” to the situation, or have established an adversarial relationship with the school.  This would also be a case where a special needs attorney or advocate would be useful as a neutral third-party, to protect the parent’s and student’s interests.

6. Children with severe disabilities do not need to attend a special school or center. A common misconception is that severely disabled children should be educated in a center designed for special education. Educators are unable to decide whether or not segregation is the best course of choice; however, by law, a child with special education needs must be educated with non-disabled children so long as he or she makes reasonable progress in his or her IEP goals with the aid of special supports and services. Only if the child is not making progress in a regular classroom setting will a special program of school be considered.

7. While people are aware of learning disabilities, they aren’t very familiar with the details. The NCLD survey found that 90 percent of respondents could identify dyslexia is a learning disability, and 80 percent could correctly define it, but most were far less familiar with other types like dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and dyspraxia.

8. You can ask for a new IEP meeting at anytime. You don’t have to wait until the next annual IEP meeting to make changes to the IEP. If you request a meeting, one must be held within 30 days. Any changes agreed upon during the meeting are added as an amendment to the original IEP.

9. Special education students do go onto college, even if the Special Education laws don’t extend to post-secondary schooling. Many colleges and universities offer support services for students with disabilities. And while only 10 percent of students with LD enroll in a four-year college program within two years of graduating (compared to 28 percent of the general population), 2004’s Individuals with Disabilities Education and Improvement Act (IDEA) specifically requires that students be prepared, as much as possible, during early schooling, for further continuing education and independent living.

special education teacher facts

10. Many people who have learning disabilities go on to become extremely successful, and in some cases, famous. Some of the greatest minds have had learning disabilities or other special education needs: Abraham Lincoln, Buzz Aldrin, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Vincent Van Gogh are just a few of the notable names.

In the course of making sure your child gets all the assistance he or she needs, no stone should be unturned. Debunking myths, educating yourself on laws, and just picking up interesting factoids can help you be a better advocate for your child.

Please Share

Kathy Bidwell

Another surprising fact is that state funded preschools for children with disabilities are exempt from childcare licensing, and there are NO child care regulations. I don’t think many parents are aware of this.

Leave a Reply

Leave a reply cancel reply, contact information, 3333 michelson drive, suite 300| irvine,  ca 92612, phone: (714) 251-6530.

special education teacher facts

Why Teachers of English Learners With Disabilities Need Specialized Training

special education teacher facts

  • Share article

English learners who are also identified as students with disabilities experience unique needs in K-12 schools—and their teachers need specialized, interdisciplinary training, experts say.

This dual-identified student cohort accounted for 15.8 percent of the total English-learner population in fall 2021, according to the updated federal data . Students with disabilities, in general, represented 14.7 percent of total public school enrollment that same year.

At Education Week’s June 20 K-12 Essentials Forum focusing on innovative approaches to special education , Lizdelia Piñón, an emergent bilingual education associate for the Texas-based advocacy nonprofit Intercultural Development Research Association, or IDRA, shared insights on what kind of teacher training best serves dual-identified students.

Integrated teacher training is needed for English learners with disabilities

When working with English learners with disabilities, teachers need to understand how students acquire language and how that works concerning their special education needs, Piñón said.

For teachers to do this effectively, they need comprehensive training that goes beyond standardized training focused either on bilingual education or special education.

“It has to be this cohesive idea,” Piñón said. “It’s an integrated training that equips our teachers with the skills and the knowledge that they need to effectively support our dual-identified English learners with disabilities.”

Such training requires a specialized curriculum that combines coursework. It should address how teachers can simultaneously work with students at different language-level proficiencies and those with different disabilities. For instance, what does instruction look like for an English learner with cerebral palsy that comes from a Mexican-American home? How is that similar or unique from another student in class?

This training must also be rooted in cultural competency allowing for students’ cultural backgrounds to be celebrated and included in the classroom, Piñón added.

Interdisciplinary teacher training programs need to be scaled up

Even as Piñón spoke of how specialized, comprehensive training can better support the multi-faceted needs of English learners with disabilities, she acknowledged a major barrier for teachers seeking to access such training: a scarcity of these programs.

Certification programs exist for bilingual education, and separately special education, but programs don’t often intersect.

Piñón, who is based in Texas, noted that Texas Christian University implemented a teacher-training program in the past two years where all graduates have to be certified in both special education and bilingual or English-as-a-second-language education, though such requirements are rare.

Legislators in the Lone Star state did pass House Bill 2256 in 2021 promoting a bilingual special education certificate for the state of Texas, but implementation is still in the works, Piñón said.

Even as higher education institutions scale up any programming that prepares teachers working with such this intersectional student population, Piñón hopes such programming is made affordable and geographically accessible to teachers.

Current teachers can collaborate across departments

Educators don’t need to wait on specialized training to offer comprehensive support for English learners with disabilities.

Existing special education, English-as-a-second-language teachers, and general education teachers alike can strategically collaborate to ensure students’ needs are being met across the school day. Whether that’s through monthly or quarterly meetings, Piñón said districts need to invest in giving teachers time to come together and share insights.

Specialized teacher training for working with English learners with disabilities also needs to prepare teachers on how to work with various team players, including speech pathologists, English-as-a-second-language experts, and special education teachers, Piñón said. That includes working together in discussing how to best use emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence tools , with students.

Sign Up for EdWeek Update

Edweek top school jobs.

An elementary student reads independently during class.

Sign Up & Sign In

module image 9

IMAGES

  1. Special Education Image URL: https://usatcollege.files.wordpress.com

    special education teacher facts

  2. Qualities of a Special Education Teacher [Infographic]

    special education teacher facts

  3. How To Become a Special Education Teacher 2024

    special education teacher facts

  4. The average attrition rate for special education teachers is 5 years

    special education teacher facts

  5. How To Become a Special Education Teacher Infographic

    special education teacher facts

  6. Special Education Teacher Job Description: Salary, Skills, & More

    special education teacher facts

VIDEO

  1. What to know about special education in Texas

  2. Special Educator l Special Education Teacher l Learning Disability Teacher #asd #sorts #viralshorts

  3. Innovative Special Education Teacher Preparation: Become a Special Education Teacher Today

  4. #special education teacher, special education teacher vlog,#motivation,vikashdivyakirtysar ias, ips

  5. Why I Became a Special Education Teacher| My Journey From SPED Student to Teacher

  6. Essential Supplies For Special Education Teachers

COMMENTS

  1. Special Education: Definition, Statistics, and Trends

    In 2016, there were 17.1 special education students for each special education teacher in the United States. That's higher than the overall student-teacher ratio of 16.2 students per teacher.

  2. 12 Enigmatic Facts About Special Education Teacher

    The average salary of a special education teacher can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and educational level. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for special education teachers was $61,030 as of May 2020. 4. What are the challenges faced by special education teachers?

  3. What does a special education teacher do?

    A special education teacher works with students who have a wide range of disabilities and special needs. Their primary role is to provide specialized instruction and support to help students with disabilities overcome learning barriers and achieve academic, social, and emotional success. Special education teachers assess students' individual needs, develop tailored education plans, and ...

  4. Special Education Teacher: Education, Career Paths and Job Outlook

    The career outlook for teachers in special education is generally positive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), special education teachers earned a median annual wage of $62,950 in May 2022. Although employment rates are not expected to rise, there are about 33,500 job openings each year for special education teachers.

  5. Special Education Stats [2023 Update]

    The median annual salary for special education teachers is $61,820. Special education facts reveal that the lowest-earning 10% earn less than $46,180 per annum, while the highest-earning 10% earn more than $100,040. Special education teachers held about 476,300 jobs in 2021.

  6. What Is Special Education? A Guide for Educators and Families

    The IDEA definition of special education is: specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. It includes physical education, related services (e.g., speech therapy, occupational therapy), vocational education, and travel training. Essentially, special education is how students with ...

  7. National Association of Special Education Teachers: The State of

    General and Special Education Teachers' Perceptions of the Implementation of Differentiated Instruction in Elementary Classrooms with Learning Disabilities Students* Strategies for Supporting Students Struggling with Sight Word Retention; A Critique of: Cognitive Risk Factors for Specific Learning Disorder: Processing Speed, Temporal ...

  8. What I've Learned From Special Ed Teachers

    Special education teachers are experts in the philosophy of differentiation. They don't simply do differentiation—they employ it as a mindset needed to teach well. Demonstrating for one student how to apply a strategy will benefit all students. 8. Patience is a gift, a virtue, and a necessity.

  9. National Association of Special Education Teachers: Teachers Teaching

    Latest Job Listings * Special Education Teacher, 6th-8th grade Intensive Support - To develop and implement individualized educational programs which address the needs of special education students at the grade level(s) they are assigned. The instruction will incorporate a collaborative and proactive approach to supporting students, especially those with unique needs, in behavior management ...

  10. Behind The Shortage Of Special Ed Teachers: Long Hours, Crushing ...

    Quick Facts. 49 States. Report a shortage of special education teachers/related service personnel. 12.3 percent. Of special education teachers leave the profession.

  11. Special Education Teachers: Top 26 Skills and Qualities Needed

    Special education teachers have additional planning responsibilities that focus on the short- and long-term goals of students with various learning challenges. While short-term planning in special education may involve more immediate activities that can help inform students' IEPs, long-term planning is meant to anticipate potential challenges ...

  12. The Number of Students in Special Education Has Doubled in the Past 45

    Eesha Pendharkar was a reporter for Education Week covering race and opportunity in education. The number of students in special education in the U.S. has doubled, from 3.6 million in 1976-77 to ...

  13. Special Education From the View of Students, Teachers, and Parents

    Against a backdrop of legal mandates and complex interactions with parents, special educators must deliver a "free and appropriate public education" that satisfies both the paperwork ...

  14. Special Education Teacher: Career and Salary Facts

    Regular teacher's license is usually required, in addition to special education teacher's license. Job Growth (2020-2030)*. 8% for all special ed teachers. Mean Salary (2020)*. $64,790 for kindergarten and elementary school special ed teachers. $66,300 for middle school special ed teachers. $66,490 for high school special ed teachers.

  15. What is Special Education?

    Among all students receiving special education services that year, 34% had a specific learning disability, generally defined as a difference in the way they think, speak, read, write or spell.

  16. The truth about special education

    Visit advertiser. The truth about special education. 55,343 views |. TEDxYouth@GrahamSt. • June 2021. Self-locking doors and 2-metre high fences in the name of special education? Professor Suzanne Carrington shares her experiences of teaching children in local special schools, and offers insight on the benefits of inclusive education.

  17. 18 Myths And Facts About Special Education

    Myth 18: Special education is a separate system disconnected from general education. Fact: Special education works collaboratively with general education to provide the necessary support and services for students with disabilities within an inclusive educational framework. Understanding the realities of special education is crucial in promoting ...

  18. Special Education Teacher Shortage: Driving Factors

    The Office of Special Education Programs currently lists the national shortage at 8 percent. This large and growing problem affects schools across the country, but the shortage pertains to more than just insufficient numbers of special education teachers. The shortage also refers to inadequate numbers of properly trained special education teachers.

  19. 12 Things That Special Education Teachers Need to Know

    Spread the loveAre you thinking about become a special education teacher but don't feel prepared. If so, here are 12 things that you need to know. What are IEP Annual Goals? These are learner's goals that are related to their IEP. This goal highlights the expected results for the progress of the learner in the next year. These goals have to be realistic and achievable as well as measurable ...

  20. Special Education

    A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success. Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ...

  21. Interesting Facts About Being a Special Ed Teacher

    Salaries. According to data published by the BLS for May 2010, the median annual salary for special ed teachers was $53,220 annually. By grades taught, this breaks down to a median salary of $54,810 at the high school level, $52,250 for preschool through elementary school and $53,440 at the middle school level. References.

  22. Ten Special Education Facts That Might Surprise You

    1. Jean-Mark-Gaspard Itard, a French physician, is considered to be "The Father of Special Education.". Even though Special Education laws weren't passed until 1975, with the Education of the Handicapped Act, Itard was attempting to educate children with mental disabilities in a systematic fashion as early as the late 1700s and early 1800s.

  23. Why Teachers of English Learners With Disabilities ...

    Existing special education, English-as-a-second-language teachers, and general education teachers alike can strategically collaborate to ensure students' needs are being met across the school ...