2009/10 Support Budget II

Additional Challenges

Special Education Teacher Preparation,
$1.2 Million

California has had a chronic shortage of special education teachers to teach the 640,000 students who are entitled to be served under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The demand for credentialed special education teachers in California has grown steadily over the last decade, in part because No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all special needs students be taught by highly qualified teachers.

California prepares approximately 3,350 new special education teachers annually and requires an increase of at least 60 percent above this level to meet current districts’ hiring needs. Projected retirements and attrition increase substantially the need for boosting the number of new special education teachers. The CSU prepares approximately 1,835 or 55 percent of these teachers annually. Expansion of the CSU program will assist significantly in reducing shortages.

The state must assume primary responsibility for increasing the numbers of prepared special education teachers because the need is so large that school districts cannot fill their openings and the failure to do so jeopardizes federal funding to the state. Districts will require approximately 8,650 new special education teachers in 2008/09, more than double the demand of just a few years ago. District special education internship programs produce slightly over 100 special education teachers annually. The proposed increase in special education teacher preparation by the CSU, rising to an annual level of more than 2,000 new teachers annually within two years and increasing at a rate of 10 percent annually thereafter, can assist the state substantially in moving toward meeting federal special education teacher requirements.

This supplemental funding request of $1.2 million in ongoing funds will allow the CSU to expand its recruitment and preparation of new special education teachers by 10 percent in 2009/10 and by an additional 10 percent annually over the next decade. This new source of special education teachers will make a significant contribution to addressing the state’s shortage of these teachers.

The implementation plan has three components: increasing credential pathways, heightened recruitment efforts, and statewide program development and management. Each of these components is described below.

Special Education Credential Pathways Growth: The CSU system and its campuses will increase enrollments and credential production in special education, particularly by building on established programs in order to capitalize on existing faculty resources. This is important because there is a significant shortage not only of K-12 special education teachers, but also of faculty in the field able to prepare additional teachers to meet the severe shortage.

CSU campuses will develop five-year growth plans that include designation of additional annual enrollments and attained credentials and specific strategies for expanding the number of prepared teachers. The growth plans will identify the school districts and schools in which candidates will be placed. This will ensure that the plans address the largest shortages across the various regions of the state and assist districts and schools with large numbers of poor and minority students. Such careful planning is critical because a substantial number of California districts are out of compliance with federal mandates due to shortages in numbers of well-qualified special education teachers, and campuses will be asked to give special attention to these districts.

Comprehensive Recruitment Efforts: Significantly increasing the numbers of candidates who seek special education credentials requires comprehensive and early recruitment. A problem with traditional recruitment of special education teachers is that it has begun late in individuals’ collegiate education. Because of the added rigors of teaching special needs students, potential candidates have often chosen other teaching fields. Early recruitment and financial incentives have been shown to be effective in increasing enrollments in special education. Each of the strategies proposed includes identification of candidates during lower-division study and starting them on a structured path to a special education credential. Students will be made aware of newly available federal TEACH awards of up to $4,000 per year during undergraduate and credential study and APLE loan assumption awards of between $15,000 and $19,000 for special education teachers.

Effective recruitment requires that campuses conduct workshops and seminars, connect candidates with opportunities to work with special needs students, market special education programs, and publicize student financial support through electronic and print media and special events. Special funding beyond what campuses have for ongoing programs is needed for comprehensive recruitment and marketing targeted to a range of populations, including high school and community college students, paraprofessionals, and career changers. The budget includes support for campus activities and for development of electronic and print recruitment and marketing materials at the state level that can be used by all campuses.

Program Development and Management: A program of this scope requires central program development and management. Resources are included for a statewide director, clerical assistance, statewide marketing materials, a statewide website, meetings and conferences, and supplies and expenses. The statewide director will be responsible for initiating the program, planning and overseeing program implementation, managing fiscal resources, ensuring collection of accountability information, and coordinating with other state agencies.

Increases in special education teacher enrollments and credential production will be monitored on a term-by-term basis. Information will also be collected on placements of new special education teachers in high-poverty, high-minority districts, an area of particular concern under federal law.

Increasing Special Education Teacher Production

  FY 2009/10 and Ongoing
Campus Special Education Credential Pathways  
Undergraduate Pathways $200,000
Articulated Community College Programs $200,000
Paraprofessional and Aide Pathway $200,000
Candidate Mentored Intern Programs $200,000
Online Learning Resources $80,000
Subtotal $880,000
Campus Comprehensive Recruitment  
Recruitment and Financial Aid Workshops $160,000
Subtotal $160,000
Program Development and Management  
Statewide Director $90,000
Statewide Clerical Support $30,000
Recruitment/Marketing Materials (brochures, etc.) $15,000
Website Development and Maintenance $10,000
Statewide Conferences, Meetings $5,000
Supplies and Expenses $10,000
Subtotal $160,000
Total Proposed Budget Change $1,200,000