Training Special Education Teachers

The American Academy of Special Education Professionals lists ten roles and responsibilities of a special education teacher. Most of these roles especially those that pertain to a classroom no doubt require something in addition to what we expect from a general education teacher. It follows then that a special education teacher not only knows content and pedagogy that apply to all students in general but also specific strategies or toolkits that help address challenges and strengths special students have. Foremost, a special education teacher must be aware of the Golem effect, where lower expectations simply lead to poor performance. Special students after all do not simply have challenges. They also have strengths.

With the additional responsibilities, it does seem that special educators should be the cream of the crop among teachers. What is disconcerting at the moment, as reported by the National Council on Teacher Quality, is that some states in the United States of America actually require less from teachers in special education. Only 11 states currently require both general and special education teachers to pass a reading test as part of the certification process. These states are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Sadly, since educational institutions are often equated to gaining employment after graduation. Without a test, it is unlikely for teacher-preparatory colleges to focus on reading strategies in states that do not require a reading test for a teacher license. Worse, most states do not even require a reading for all its elementary teachers. It is indeed surprising that educators may not be receiving important training on reading skills. The map below shows how widespread this oversight may be.

Above copied from NCTQ



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