Teaching Quality main page.
This issue page provides resources to enlighten, equip and engage education policy makers regarding issues specific to special education teacher quality. Fifty-state scans listed under the Highlights section provide a snapshot of preparation, certification and highly qualified requirements for special education teachers across the states and the nation.
The quality and quantity of special education teachers in public schools is an area of concern for state and federal education policymakers. The increasing demand for qualified special education teachers from a decreasing pool of candidates strains already limited state, district and school resources. Driving the alignment of requirements special education teachers must meet are two federal laws: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, reauthorized in 2004, and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
IDEA and NCLB require all public elementary school and secondary school special education teachers to meet certification and highly qualified teacher requirements as outlined below:
- Have obtained full State certification as a special education teacher (including certification obtained through alternative routes to certification), or passed the State special education teacher licensing examination, and hold a license to teach in the State as a special education teacher
- Have not had special education certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis
- Hold at least a bachelor's degree
- If providing direct instruction in core academic subjects (english, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography), demonstrate subject matter competency for each subject in which they are the sole responsible deliverer of content.