Special Education

Special Ed. Teachers Behind On Compliance With Law, GAO Says

By Michelle R. Davis — September 21, 2004 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Some special education teachers are faltering in working toward the qualifications they need under the No Child Left Behind Act, in part because of a lack of coordination at the federal level, according to a report from Congress’ investigative arm.

“Special Education: Additional Assistance and Better Coordination Needed among Education Offices to Help States Meet the NCLBA Teacher Requirements,” is available from the Government Accountability Office. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

While the school improvement law requires teachers to be certified in the core academic subjects they teach by the end of the 2005-06 school year, thousands of special education teachers are not acting to get the training they need, the July 15 report says.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Education took issue with some aspects of the report, which was prepared by the Government Accountability Office. The officials pointed out that the report also says that all states already require special education teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and be certified to teach. And 26 states also already require their teachers to show competence in core academic subjects, the GAO report says.

See Also...

View the accompanying table, “Subject-Matter Preparation.”

The study “found that a majority of the states already meet the No Child Left Behind standards,” said Troy Justesen, an acting deputy assistant secretary for the office of special education and rehabilitative services, or OSERS. He disagreed with the conclusion that his office has not provided coordinated information and support.

The report by the GAO—whose name was changed from the General Accounting Office under legislation signed July 7 by President Bush—says that when states sought guidance from the special education office within the Education Department, they were referred to the office of elementary and secondary education or to the department’s Web site on the No Child Left Behind Act.

Moreover, the report says, until recently the office of special education was not even a member of the department’s teacher-quality policy team.

“I would take some issue with the report’s finding that my office, OSERS, has not been included in No Child Left Behind activities,” Mr. Justesen said. “We are heavily involved.”

But the report says that in the states that require subject-matter competence, special education teachers assigned to teach core academic subjects might not have the qualifications they need by the close of the 2005-06 school year. With 6 million students with disabilities in public schools and about 400,000 special education teachers, that’s a major problem, the report says.

Furthermore, the country has a shortage of special education teachers, with officials expecting 69,000 openings this coming school year, Mr. Justesen said.

The GAO found confusion about how special education teachers are treated under the No Child Left Behind Act. And qualifications for special education teachers are also regulated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the main federal special education law.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, requested the report.

Need for Guidance

Kim Anderson, a lobbyist for the National Education Association who focuses on special education, said states are trying their best to fulfill the No Child Left Behind Act requirements, but are struggling.

“The Department of Education has given little to no guidance to help them get there, and they’re just left to fend for themselves,” she said.

Jane E. West, a lobbyist for special education issues at Washington Partners LLC, a public relations firm in the nation’s capital, said she sees the Education Department increasing its efforts to reach out to educators. But “it would be more helpful to the field to really see a stronger partnership between general education and special education,” she said.

Mr. Justesen said his office has actively reached out to states, and some of the problems stem from the way the special education community is dealing with the changes.

“Traditionally, special ed has developed its own culture aside from regular educators ... and now we’re moving to a new phase in this country,” he said. “Making sure we’re in the regular classroom, working with regular educators—that’s a new challenge.”

A version of this article appeared in the July 28, 2004 edition of Education Week as Special Ed. Teachers Behind On Compliance With Law, GAO Says

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education The Pros and Cons of AI in Special Education
AI can make special educators' jobs easier by handling paperwork and serving as an adaptive tool. But there are privacy and other concerns.
9 min read
Student being assisted by AI
Nicole Xu for Education Week
Special Education From Our Research Center What Happens for High Schoolers Who Need More Than 4 Years?
Districts work to serve older students longer than four years to plan for a changing career world.
6 min read
Older student facing the city, younger version is being swept away.
Nicole Xu for Education Week
Special Education These Grants Could Help Students With Disabilities Access Jobs, Training
The Ed. Dept. is investing $236 million to help with transitions to careers and post-secondary education.
3 min read
Collage of a woman in a wheelchair on a road leading to a large dollar sign. In the woman's hair is a ghosted photo of hands on a laptop.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week + Getty
Special Education Download DOWNLOADABLE: Does Your School Use These 10 Dimensions of Student Belonging?
These principles are designed to help schools move from inclusion of students with disabilities in classrooms to true belonging.
1 min read
Image of a group of students meeting with their teacher. One student is giving the teacher a high-five.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva