Texas public schools provide special education services to almost 500,000 students. Despite these services, students with disabilities perform significantly lower on state assessments in reading and mathematics than their same-aged peers. To address this discrepancy and improve both student outcomes and teacher preparation, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) developed a Strategic Plan for Special Education based on input from stakeholders across the state.
Two goals of the strategic plan relate to preparation and staffing of educators of students who receive special education services. Specifically, the strategic plan called for the following:
- Educator Preparation: TEA will explore options related to possible improvements in educator preparation and continuing education, in partnership with the State Board for Educator Certification. TEA will explore updates to the continuing education requirements for certified teachers in Texas to include a more explicit focus on special education practices.
- Sufficient Special Education Staffing: TEA will convene a special education personnel forum and will invite the State Board for Educator Certification, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Colleges of Education from across the state, and professional organizations. This policy forum may discuss and develop a report with recommendations about how Texas will meet the staffing needs in special education.
To address these charges, TEA convened a series of forums from October 2018 to January 2019. Forum participants included individuals within the field of special education who provided a set of recommendations intended to strengthen Texas' special education certification process.
Rethinking Special Education Certification in Texas summarizes the recommendations made by the forum participants.