Addressing California s Special Education Teacher Shortage

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1 Addressing California s Special Education Teacher Shortage Summary California has a serious ongoing shortage of special education teachers that leaves many classrooms staffed by underprepared teachers. In addition, the strategies previously used to address these needs (reducing the overall preparation expected of credential holders) have prevented districts from using service delivery models that are more effective and cost-efficient (e.g. allowing teachers to serve both general and special education students in inclusive settings). This proposal provides options recruitment and preparation of fully-prepared and credentialed Education Specialist teachers for California s diverse K-12 students. By encouraging alreadycredentialed teachers (including many who were laid off in recent cutbacks) to add the Education Specialist credential to their general credential, and by encouraging others to pursue innovative dual-credentialing programs, the proposal will simultaneously address three major problems: Increasing the supply of fully-prepared teachers (holding general and Education Specialist credentials) to teach special education students and thus allowing districts to use more effective and cost-efficient service delivery options Strengthening the preparation of teachers for teaching special education students and thus improving outcomes for children Keeping valuable teachers in the profession while meeting a critical long-term need for personpower Problem Statement Statewide Special Education Enrollment: According to statewide enrollment data, over 6 million students are enrolled in California public schools. Statewide data from the CDE on special education student enrollment indicates that special education services were provided to 686,352 students, newborn through twenty-two, in California that same academic year, representing approximately 11% of the total student population. Although these students represent 11% of the population, special education consumes more than 20% of the state education budget, and more than 40% of new dollars over the last decade. Students identified as needing services in Specific Learning Disabilities, Speech or Language Impaired, and Autism Spectrum Disorders represent the three largest populations served based on identified federal disability category. Some of the cost concerns are a function of a suboptimal approach to teacher preparation and credentialing that leads to inadequate service delivery options. Need for Additional Fully Credentialed Special Education Teachers: The Commission on Teacher Credentialing reports data on numbers of credentials awarded annually in its Annual Teacher Supply Report. While recent data suggests a 12 percent increase from in the numbers of Preliminary Education Specialist credentials awarded, the total number of newly credentialed teachers still hovers at less than 5,000 per year (4,639 in ). While the Commission does not currently report on the demand of educators in any given specialty or content area, the Commission does have some limited data that can be used as a proxy for unmet demand. These indicators include the number of intern credentials, [emergency] permits (PIPS and STPS), Special Education Limited Authorization Permits (SELAPS), and Waivers.

2 Together, these types of licensing documents were issued to an additional 2,492 individuals in who were assigned to teach students in special education settings. In , data from County Offices of Education indicated that statewide there were more than 2,200 special education assignments in which the assigned teachers not prepared or authorized for the special education services provided. Over 60% of those misassignments represented teachers serving students on the Autism spectrum without the appropriate preparation or authorization. 1 These data suggest that the state may actually need twice the number of special education teachers it produces each year. In addition, there is a need for more comprehensive training to support more effective and costefficient service delivery models and to improve outcomes for students. Previous efforts to address this deep shortage reduced the preparation of special education teachers by removing the requirement for adding special education training to a base (general education) credential. A growing number of special education teachers receive training only in Education Specialist internship programs, where teachers seek to learn this complex data base in only 9 months while they are teaching, often without the benefit of the close mentoring provided by student teaching. The net result of these changes is that credentialing is often out of synch with the needs of districts, who would be better served by being able to offer services in more inclusive ways. In order to support districts that would like to be able to implement Response to Intervention (RTI) initiatives, resource centers that serve struggling students, and push-in services in inclusive classrooms, California needs many more teachers who hold both the general and Specialist credential and who have been well-prepared to serve a more diverse group of students. The current restrictive service provision has proved to be both less effective and less cost-efficient than alternatives. Furthermore, costs are increased when teacher expertise is inadequate, by costly service alternatives, such as one-to-one aides, that often do not improve student outcomes, because the aides also lack the sophisticated preparation that is needed. Need for Autism Spectrum Disorder Credentialed Teachers: There continues to be a shortage of current special education teachers who are authorized to teach pupils identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although current law authorizes local education agencies to assign teachers who holds an education specialist credential and who meet specified criteria to provide instruction to pupils with autism, that statute (Education Code ) becomes inoperative on October 1, After October 1, 2013, the Commission expects a spike in requests for permits, SELAPS, and waivers from currently credentialed teachers in Mild Moderate Disabilities who will no longer be authorized to serve students on the Autism Spectrum scale as the result of the sunsetting of Education Code Over the past few years, the Commission has reviewed and approved 56 ASD AA programs to prepare teachers to earn the authorization needed so they can continue to serve their students. To date, the Commission has not done the analysis of the number of possible current teachers that are likely to need this new authorization, however, given the sunsetting of this law, candidates are likely to enroll in these new programs in record numbers. 1 These data represents only ¼ of all school districts in California as approximately ¼ are monitored for misassignments by County Offices each year.

3 Options Addressing California s shortage of Special Education teachers could be addressed by encouraging more people to earn education specialist credentials, by providing incentives for laid-off teachers to become authorized to teach pupils with disabilities, and by supporting current education specialist credential holders earning the ASDAA. Option 1 Provide Resources to Support New Education Specialist Candidates Who Are already credentialed General Education teachers California s new teacher workforce has suffered a difficult economic environment which has resulted in tens of thousands of layoffs over the past few years. At least some of the new Single Subject and Multiple Subject teachers undoubtedly account for some of the increase in new Education Specialist credentials awarded as they seek to become more employable by earning an Education Specialist credential. Los Angeles Unified, for example, has been proactive in recruiting already credentialed individuals (Multiple Subject or Single Subjects) into their Education Specialist preparation programs. Additional statewide attention and resources could significantly address two convergent needs the shortage of special education teachers and the need for those fully credentialed teachers in MS and SS who are seeking employment in the public schools to become more employable before they choose to leave the education profession altogether. Option 2 Provide resources to encourage non-credentialed individuals to choose special education as a teaching career and to pursue training in innovative Dual Credential or Integrated programs. The Legislature may wish to consider providing incentives similar to the Governor s Teaching Fellowship program, which ended in 2002, to encourage career changers and others considering a career in teaching to consider becoming special education teachers. To strengthen the overall quality of special education teachers and provide needed flexibility for LEAs in the assignment of special education teachers to a variety of instructional settings, this incentive program would focus on supporting teachers who complete preparation leading to a dual authorization, Resources could be provided in the form of forgivable loans (much like the APLE Grants) if the candidate serves in an Education Specialist position for a specified period of time, or through grant assistance, fellowships, or perhaps direct resources for programs dependent on the number of candidates to be served that meet a specified criteria. Option 3 Provide funding to support mild moderate credentialed special education teachers to earn the Added Authorization in Autism Spectrum Disorders. These currently-credentialed special education teachers, who will lose their authorization to teach students with Autism Spectrum disorder after the law authorizing their service to this population sunsets in October 2013, could have the option of continuing to serve students on a Limited Assignment Permit while completing the additional preparation to earn the additional authorization.

4 Cost Analysis Type of Candidate Option 1: Credentialed multiple or single subject teacher Option 2a: Undergraduate in Blended Program leading to BA/BS and dual credentials Option 2b: Candidate with a BA/BS seeking a teaching career in dual credential program Option 3: Credentialed Mild Moderate Education Specialist Credentialed teacher Building infrastructure to support high quality dual credentialing programs Per Capita Cost What Support of Support Covers stipend for one year stipend for two years stipend for 2 years $1,100 (one time cost, based on County Office program) $500,000 per progam Completion of an Added Authorization program in Autism Spectrum Disorder Improvement & expansion of existing programs; creation of new models Number of Total Cost Candidates 500 $5,000, $5,000, $5,000,000 2,000 $2,200,000 $8,500,000 CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING INFRASTRUCTURE: For option 1, there are enough programs to service that workforce; the funding for candidates is what would be most needed. There are 54 IHEs with approved, stand alone special education programs and 6 LEAs. Most of these offer the internship route. For option 2, there are currently 13 dual programs operating in the following institutions: Blended Undergraduate programs leading to BA/BS and dual credentials: - CSU Bakersfield, CSU Long Beach, CSU Los Angeles Programs offering dual credentialing options only (not attached to blended UG program, offered concurrently or in an integrated approach): - CSU: Chico, East Bay, Fresno, Fullerton, Sacramento, San Jose, San Marcos - UC Riverside - Dominican University - Fresno Pacific University

5 For option 2A, there are only three of these types of programs available. Grants of $500,000 apiece could support the development of additional programs. At 20 candidates per cohort, 7 more programs would be needed, at a cost of $3.5 million. For option 2B, we have 10 programs currently focused on offering dual credentials. As with option 2A, development grants of $500,000 could support the development of another 10 dual programs at a cost of $5 million.

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