New GAO Report on Teacher Preparation of General Ed Teachers for Teaching Children With Disabilities

The Unites States Government Accountability Office has just released a study on the preparation of general education teachers to teach students with disabilities and English language learners. The report is very interesting for a number of reasons.

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Because IDEA require that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment that is appropriate, it is crucial that general education teachers be trained to teach kids with disabilities as a part of their teacher training. The vast majority of special education children spend a significant portion of their day in the regular education classroom.

This study concludes that between 67 and 73% of teacher training programs require at least one course on educating children with disabilities. How can that number not approach 100%? More significantly, only 51 to 58% of teacher preparation programs require some field experience with children with disabilities. The types of field experiences required varied widely.

Another problem unfortunately too common in government found by the study was that there are multiple agencies with responsibility over teacher preparation. The report concludes that better coordination among the six agencies that oversee this topic should be required.

You can read the report here. A one page summary of the report may be found here.

This study raises some serious questions. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the federal Department of Education.
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