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Special Education
by the Numbers

When districts struggle to fill positions, special education teachers are often asked to do more with less.

An online search for “teacher shortage” will quickly return 435,000 results. Each day yields more news headlines about school districts who struggle to hire enough teachers — more than half of school districts we surveyed in 2016 said they were experiencing a shortage.

Among those districts reporting shortages, special education was by far the most challenging area to fill:

Most common shortages:

(Among districts reporting shortages)
    Special Education
    Secondary Math
    Secondary Science
    Speech Therapists

The special education teacher shortage is widespread.
States that reported a shortage of special education teachers and specialized instructional support personnel in 2013-2014:



Special Education Teacher turnover rate:
At a rate of nearly twice that of general education teachers.
Percentage of special educators who say there aren’t enough teachers and support personnel to adequately serve students with disabilities:


Source: National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services

A growing special education student-teacher ratio.

Since 2005, the ratio of special education students to teachers has risen. There is some good news: from 2014-2015, for example, the nationwide average special education student-teacher ratio dropped from 19:1 to 17:1. Yet across the country in 2015 there were still close to 40,000 fewer special education teachers than there were 10 years earlier.

Teachers: Total # of full-time special education teachers working with students ages 6-21, as reported by each state.
Students: Total # of students ages 6 through 21 served under IDEA, Part B (all disabilities), as reported by each state.
Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Missing Data:
Special Education student population in Vermont for years 2007 & 2008.
Number of Special Education teachers in the District of Columbia for 2006 and in Wisconsin for 2014 and 2015.
 Although the data used in this report has been produced and processed from sources believed to be reliable, we cannot ensure the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information. It is possible that reporting errors or inconsistencies between states and years may be present in this dataset.

Technology can help.

Special education is a labor of love. You and your staff work in this field so you can make a difference in the lives of your students. But as teachers’ plates pile higher, individualized instruction becomes more difficult. Complying with state regulations and handling complex administrative tasks seem to demand an ever-growing amount of time.

Frontline Special Education Management helps you support dedicated and passionate teachers as they work with students with special needs. When teachers are called on to do more with less, our solution equips them to streamline efficiency, write higher-quality IEPs and return time to teaching.

  • Develop high-quality IEPs online with real-time document sharing and role-based permissions for access to student records.
  • Easily align with state regulations and district policies, and validate data at the point of entry to catch errors before IEPs are finalized and state reports are submitted.
  • Monitor student progress, easily generate reports and more efficiently manage the entire special education process.
  • Easily share data between your student information system and Frontline Special Education Management, as well as transfer IEPs between districts.

Ready to Learn More?