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Special Education

Podcast: Deep Dive into the Special Education Teacher Shortage

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The word is out — special education in the U.S. is experiencing a severe teacher shortage, and recent data about the shortage speaks loudly:

  • Forty-eight states plus the District of Columbia have identified shortages of teachers in special education and related services.[1]
  • Half of all schools and 90% of high-poverty schools are struggling to find qualified special education teachers.[2]
  • The shortage in special education is now so severe that some districts are actively recruiting teachers from countries outside the U.S., including the Philippines.[3]
  • 12.3% of special education teachers leave the profession — that’s nearly double the rate of general education teachers.[4]
  • 82% of special education teachers and SISPs report that there are not enough professionals to meet the needs of students with disabilities.[5]

The question is no longer, “Is there a shortage?” but, “What can we do to turn the tide?”

In this podcast, we explore root causes of the shortage at the district and school levels — starting with pre-service teacher education and continuing through teacher recruitment, onboarding, retention and professional growth.

Dr. Tom Reap and Cydney Miller listen and respond to recent quotes from administrators serving on the front line of K-12 special education. Cydney, a former human resources director for Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, and Tom, a former director and administrator with over 20 years’ experience in special education, combine their unique perspectives to address the concerns of a current superintendent and special education director.

Does your organization have a system to recruit, hire and support special education teachers that will grow with your team? Consider how Frontline Education can help you find, develop and retain the right teacher talent.


[1, 2] Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2016). A coming crisis in teaching? Teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the US. Washington, DC: Learning Policy Institute. Retrieved from:
[3] EdWeek. (2017). School Districts Look to Philippines to Fill Teacher Vacancies [Blog post]. Retrieved from:
[4, 5] National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services. (2016). About the Shortage. Retrieved from: