Long-Term Trends in the National Demand, Supply, and Shortage of Special Education Teachers
With a focus on both teacher quality and quantity at the national level, this research examined longterm trends in the demand, supply, and shortage of special education teachers for 16 school years, from 1987/1988 through 2002/2003. These trends were based on data published in annual reports to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Rapid growth in teacher demand for students with disabilities aged 3–5 years was found, whereas the growth in teacher demand for students aged 6–21 years was more gradual and paralleled the rate of growth in teacher demand in general education. Although teacher demand was mostly satisfied by growth in the supply of fully certified teachers, the shortage of fully certified teachers for students with disabilities aged 6–21 years has been chronic since 1987/1988 and has increased annually, from 7.4% in 1993/1994 to 13.4% in 2002/2003 (a shortage of approximately 54,000 special education teachers, including estimated vacant positions).