Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New GAO Report on Teacher Preparation of General Ed Teachers for Teaching Children With Disabilities

The Unites States Government Accountability Office has just released a study on the preparation of general education teachers to teach students with disabilities and English language learners. The report is very interesting for a number of reasons.

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Because IDEA require that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment that is appropriate, it is crucial that general education teachers be trained to teach kids with disabilities as a part of their teacher training. The vast majority of special education children spend a significant portion of their day in the regular education classroom.

This study concludes that between 67 and 73% of teacher training programs require at least one course on educating children with disabilities. How can that number not approach 100%? More significantly, only 51 to 58% of teacher preparation programs require some field experience with children with disabilities. The types of field experiences required varied widely.

Another problem unfortunately too common in government found by the study was that there are multiple agencies with responsibility over teacher preparation. The report concludes that better coordination among the six agencies that oversee this topic should be required.

You can read the report here. A one page summary of the report may be found here.

This study raises some serious questions. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the federal Department of Education.
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  1. My daughter is currently in a classroom with a first year special education teacher. She has never taught children with any disability, and has also never taught a student with autism (my child). It is apparent she is in way over her head, and my child is suffering as a result of her "on the job training". Honestly, if an educator has no special ed. teaching experience, then training should occur prior to taking over a class.

  2. I am working in Michigan as a Special Education Tutor and (quasi) consultant. I am APPAULED at the lack of preparation required for General Education teachers in this state. One of the States schools hasn't revamped it's program in over 20 YEARS!!! To my knowledge none of them (state schools) require even ONE special education class, nor any study of educational law. My experience as a parent has proven that basic pedagogical knowledge is hit or miss. All of this leaves me to wonder, exactly what vision does this state have for it's diverse educational landscape? It appears to be that of a wasteland. I am working pro actively to try and publicize the problem and possible solutions. It is quite scary.

  3. Thanks Stephanie,
    Your comment matches a large number of similar emails.


  4. Thanks Annie,

    It seems as though this GAO report has really hit a nerve nationwide.

    I look for some changes on the federal level.