New federal data shows the number of students with cognitive or profound disabilities in public schools across the nation is growing. But what does that mean for your district moving forward?
Special Education By the Numbers
About 7.2 million students between 3 and 21 years old were served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) last school year. This accounts for 15 percent of all students. Compare this to the 6.5 million students served under IDEA back in 2010, and it’s clear that special education enrollment is on the rise.
Whether the increase is due to a rise in significant disabilities, more careful diagnosis, or improvements in early identification, it’s clear that there is a higher demand for effective special education services.
A Change in Supply and Demand
With the new school year in full swing, all but three states (Arkansas, California, and Oregon) reported a special education teacher shortage to the U.S. Department of Education.
These states reported they have fewer teachers trained to meet the needs of functional skills students than they should for the 2022-2023 academic school year.
Special education is often where districts struggle to fill and retain positions. Over the last several years, the Department of Education database has shown shortages. Now, some districts are even offering sign-on bonuses of $10,000 to attract new teachers.
What’s Fueling the Teacher Shortage?
Teaching functional skills requires adequate planning time, more resources, and specific manipulatives that many districts struggle to provide on their own. Functional skills teachers typically have to plan and prep curriculum on their personal time in order to stay focused on the students during school hours.
As rewarding as it can be to teach functional skills, this lack of planning and preparation provided for teachers causes tough working conditions that are contributing to the shortage. While some districts are filling positions with “emergency certified” teachers who receive temporary licenses, more clearly needs to be done to fill the gap.
Helping Every Functional Skills Student Succeed
As special education enrollment continues to rise, federal funding will be a critical component for schools to deliver the learning experience these students need to succeed. However, districts can also use outside sources to provide ready-made, hands-on tools to improve functional skills outcomes.
The Supreme Court ruled that in order "to meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” OATECA can be your district’s vehicle for demonstrating adequate progress for your students with the most significant disabilities.
The OATECA System empowers educators with an appropriate assessment for these students in three different functional skill areas; cognitive skills, self-help skills, and job training skills. When the holes in each area are found using the OATECA Assessment Kit, the system provides easy-to-use interventions with activities and manipulatives.
Investing in OATECA now can help solve your teachers’ biggest pain points this school year, leading to a healthier work-life balance and — more importantly — greater success for your functional skills students.