GSE Publications

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Journal Article

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After decades of growth, the number of special education teachers (SETs) has begun to decline. In 2009, U.S. schools employed 13% fewer SETs than in 2006. The number of annual new hires of SETs also dropped dramatically in some states. The onset of these declines predated the economic downturn of 2008 and resulted in part from a steady decline since 2005 in the number of students with disabilities (SWD) served. We consider factors that may be contributing to declining demand for SETs, among them the number of SWD, service delivery, the economic downturn, and present supporting evidence. We also consider the potential impact of reduced demand on SET supply, teacher education, equitable distribution of teachers, and, most importantly, outcomes for SWD. We call for vigilance and monitoring of SET employment data to assure that all students receive the appropriate education to which they are entitled.


Boe, E. E., deBettencourt, L. U., Dewey, J., Rosenberg, M., Sindelar, P., & Leko, C. (2013). Variability in demand for special education teachers: Indicators, explanations, and impacts. Exceptionality: A Special Education Journal, 21(2), 103-125. doi: 10.1080/09362835.2013.771563

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Exceptionality: A Special Education Journal, 2013, © Taylor & Francis, available online at:


special education teachers, teacher supply and demand, employment trends



Date Posted: 05 June 2014