During the 2001-2002 school year, more than 400,000 special education teachers provided instructional services to approximately 6 million students with disabilities in U.S. schools. Two federal laws contain teacher qualification requirements that apply to special education teachers: the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Given the committee's interest in issues related to highly qualified special education teachers, we are providing information about (1) the state certification requirements, including the use of alternative certification programs, for special education teachers, and how they relate to NCLBA requirements; (2) the factors that facilitate or impede state efforts to ensure that special education teachers meet NCLBA requirements; and (3) how different offices in the Department of Education (Education) assist states in addressing NCLBA teacher requirements.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Education||1. To better address states' concerns about their special education teachers being positioned to meet NCLBA teacher requirements, the Secretary of Education should provide additional assistance to states on strategies to meet the requirements and clarification of subject matter competency requirements for special education teachers.|
|Department of Education||2. To continue to improve policy development and technical assistance that Education's offices provide to states on NCLBA requirements, the Department of Education should formalize in writing coordination efforts between the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). For example, such efforts could include defining how OSEP's expertise and staff would be involved in developing NCLBA policies and guidance related to special education teachers and in providing technical assistance to states.|