A new program at the University of Nebraska’s Kearney campus is seeking to fill a shortage of special education teachers in rural Nebraska schools, according to a recent story by KHAS-TV.
The program will certify aspiring special education teachers to teach kindergarten through 12th grade, rather than requiring teachers to complete extra coursework to earn two separate certificates, one in kindergarten through 6th grade, and one in 7th through 12th grade.
In Nebraska, 55 percent of schools are classified as rural and more than 25 percent of students attend rural schools, according to The Rural School and Community Trust. Nearly 15 percent of rural students qualify for special education, more than 2 percentage points higher than the national average for rural students.
A 2012 survey of rural schools found that more than half of rural administrators had “moderate to extreme” challenges in filling vacant special education teaching positions. More than 40 percent of rural special education teachers who were surveyed said they would leave their schools within five years, partly due to factors unique to rural schools, like geographic isolation.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.