There is a new report out from the Council for Exceptional Children, “The State of the Special Education Profession Survey Report.” It is more a report about how special education teachers feel about the state of Special Education than a real characterization of how the profession is actually performing, but it does reveal some interesting patterns.
The respondents to the survey were predominantly very experienced, with 68% reporting 10 years or more of experience. Perhaps that is why so many of them – the majority, in fact – report consulting a student’s IEP on at least a weekly basis. We hear so much about how irrelevant many teachers consider IEPs that we wonder whether it is the same for special educators with less experience.
One of the survey findings that may be less surprising is that respondents had overall a pretty dim view of their colleague’s preparation to support IEP goals. Only 8% felt that their general education colleagues were very prepared, only 18% of district general education administrators and just 26% of building principals. So, while special educators seem to base their efforts on the IEP, that doesn’t seem to translate to general classroom teaching.
The disconnect extends into the evaluations special educators receive at work where they prioritize outcomes on IEP goals to a greater degree than their managers and place much less emphasis on outcomes on high stakes tests than their evaluators.
The report concludes that there is a need for more time for special educators, IEP teams and general educators to collaborate. There is no question, from what we see, that time for this collaboration is critical. We also strongly suspect that that is not enough, especially given the goals for closing the gap for students with IEPs that districts and school have set for themselves. In our experience, IEP goals are seldom about closing the gap but that’s what other teachers and administrators are asked to do.
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