According to KidsData.org, 11.5% of K-12 children in California are enrolled in a special education program. With more than one in ten kids in need, the demand for qualified special education teachers is greater than ever.
Yet, teacher shortage is a concern, and special education teacher shortages top the list, both in California and across the nation. A 2017 Learning Policy Institute report predicts that 25% of special education teachers in California who were teaching in 2014 will have retired by 2024, with that figure rising to 86.5% in some counties.
This demand for qualified special education teachers will drive employment growth in the education sector. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that by 2026, employment of special education teachers in the U.S. will grow by 8%.
On-campus college and university degree programs account for 60% of California teachers’ educations. The growing need for special education teachers in California makes programs such as the University of Redlands’ online Master of Education Arts in Learning and Teaching (MALT) attractive options. The program combines the fundamental elements from a traditional master’s in education program with California’s requirements for the Education Specialist Preliminary Credential, with an added emphasis on Mild/Moderate Disabilities; thus, educators leave the program prepared to serve this growing population of students. The online format is a flexible and affordable option for K-12 teachers who wish to earn their master’s degree in special education as they continue to teach elsewhere.
Proper Certification: Preparing Teachers to Teach
The need to address the growing demand for special education teachers in California is imperative. School districts are seeking teachers with the right certification and broader academic preparation to fill vacant or newly-created special education positions. Programs that offer a focused special education curriculum are essential for preparing graduates who are passionate about serving as advocates for the disenfranchised and underserved.
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) recently updated its credential standards after studies showed that two out of three special education teachers hired in California between 2016 and 2017 held inadequate credentials. Therefore, many special education jobs in California are open to those who hold the right qualifications. But teachers who wish to earn an advanced degree in the field must ensure that the program they opt for has an updated curriculum that meets the CCTC requirements.
Opportunities in Special Education
All students should have access to quality education; indeed, those who require extra skills and attention deserve a special focus. Special education teachers make a world of difference to the lives of those with learning difficulties, who are often underserved. Individuals interested in a rewarding career as a special education teacher may opt for an online special education credential in California.
Programs such as the University of Redlands’ online Master of Arts in Learning and Teaching pave the way for a wide array of teaching careers. They focus on teaching students with mild to moderate disabilities. Graduates learn how to teach through evidence-based instruction techniques and interventions. This gives them a strong foundation in the field of special education, including also issues of inclusion and community that special education students face. Furthermore, these programs focus on social justice principles in order to help create transformational leaders who can inspire their students and help to change lives.