Education Bridges

Abstract of grant

Rationale Statement for Exceptional Student Education Program Area

Need for Highly Qualified Teachers - National:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that during the next ten years, between 135,000 and 200,000 new special education teachers will be needed nationwide (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998; Kozleski, Mainzer, Deshler, Coleman, & Rodriguez-Walling, 2000). Almost 98% of the nation’s school districts report shortages of special education teachers (Fielder, Foster, & Schwartz, 2000; Shepard & Brown, 2003). There were 30,000 special education vacancies in 1998 and only 20,274 potential special education teachers who graduated that same year (U.S. DOE 1998, 2000). More than 12,000 special education teaching positions went unfilled or were filled by substitutes during the 1999-2000 school year (McLeskey, Tyler, Flippin, 2004). Almost 50,000 out-of-field teachers (11.4% of all teachers) who did not have proper certification filled special education teaching positions during the 2000-2001 school year and this number was up 23% from the previous school year (U.S. DOE, 2003). Carlson, Brauen, Klein, Schroll, & Willig (2002) estimated that the shortage of almost 50,000 special education teachers impacted about 810,000 students who were taught by teachers without proper credentials.

Need for Highly Qualified Teachers-State:

During the fall of 2006, the state of Florida needed 30,000 new teachers due to the increase in the number of students, the rate at which current teachers were retiring, and a constitutional amendment that required a reduction in class sizes (FL DOE, 2003). Over the next decade, Florida will need to hire between 20,000 and 28,000 new teachers per year and over a five year period will lose 40% of its new teachers (FL DOE, 2003). The Florida HQT Plan of 2006 indicates that in 2005, 73% of Florida schools did not make AYP and 88% of these were secondary schools (FL HQT, 2006).

The ethnic composition of Florida’s special education teachers in 2006 was as follows: 75% White; 15% African American, non-Hispanic; 10% Hispanic; .9% Asian/ Pacific Islander; and .3% American Indian/Alaskan Native (FL DOE, 2007). When one considers that the ethnic composition of the special education students they teach is over 44% from CLD backgrounds, the disparity is obvious.

Need for Highly Qualified Teachers-Local:

As of December 2006, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), which is the home county for UCF, is the states’ third-largest county and employs 11,312 teachers. Thirty-one percent of those are considered minority teachers. Of the 1,590 special education teachers in OCPS, 67% were white, non-Hispanic, while 44 % of the special education students they teach are CLD (FL DOE 2007). Clearly the diversity evident in the classroom is not reflected in the diversity of the teaching force.

“For all NAYP Schools statewide, most recent data reflect that the number of core classes that were not HQT was 65,837, of which 46,150 (70.1%) are accounted for by 10 of FL’s 67 regular school districts: (one was Orange)” (p.3 FL HQT Plan, 2006). During the 2001-2002 academic year, the University of Central Florida (UCF) graduated 203 new special education teachers in the following areas: MH (21); SLD (47); EBD (18); varying exceptionality (54); and speech pathology (63) (FL DOE, 2003).

Need: The proposed program enhancements of the Exceptional Student Education program at the University of Central Florida would increase the number of graduates that will not only receive certification in Exceptional Education, but that will also meet the requirements to become HQT according to the state of Florida. Specific program enhancements would prepare graduates to work in middle school math and science classrooms and teach students with HID from CLD backgrounds. Efforts to recruit students who are CLD will be increased.

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