|States working to resolve special educator shortages
Several positive developments are emerging from the crisis in special education teacher shortages. States are looking to wean themselves off noncompliant special education emergency licenses, expand pathways that are compliant and create innovative practices that improve teaching practices, meet federal requirements and overcome teacher shortages. Meanwhile, state and local special education offices are teaming up with advocacy groups and higher education institutions for solutions. Alternative licensure programs have also proven successful. One approach in Indiana for example is the Aspiring Statewide Special Education Teacher, or ASSET, program, which supports licensed educators in adding a special education teaching credential. The state is using $238,234 in federal COVID-19 funds for this program and, in total, from July 1 2022 to December 31 2022, the state has issued 1,102 alternative special education licenses in mild interventions, intense interventions, blind/low vision, and deaf/hard of hearing specialty areas. Special education is one of the highest need teacher positions. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 45% of schools with at least one teacher vacancy said they were missing special educators last winter. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data predicted an annual need for 37,600 special educators between 2021 and 2031. Many of those openings, the bureau estimates, will result from teachers switching to other occupations or leaving the labor force.