Teacher playing with special education student

Special Education by the Numbers

Despite the previous decline in students who received special education services, there has been a recent increase in students who qualify for coverage under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of students ages 3-21 who received special education services in the 2013-14 school year was about 6.5 million, or 13% of all public school students.

Job Outlook for Special Education Teachers Varies State to State

Due to the heightened need for special education services, the demand for special education teachers and professionals has been consistent; however, the job outlook varies greatly from state to state. The number of students in special education may have increased nationally, but it can stay the same or even decrease in a certain state.

On the other hand, a specific state can experience an exponential amount of growth in the need for special education services that outweighs the national growth. According to an article from “Education Week”, the number of students with specific learning disabilities has increased in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years even though it has been on a steady decline since the 2004-05 school year. Interestingly, the state of New York almost solely brought about that change. They contributed 31,000 students out of the 85,000 nationwide increase.

The number of students with specific learning disabilities has increased in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

When assessing the numbers, New York experienced an 8% increase in students requiring special education services compared to the 1.5% increase nationwide. Naturally, this would create more job positions and openings in New York to help accommodate for the drastic increase in the number of students. The need for an increase in special education services can be due to a number of things. A large factor may be how the assessment of students to determine whether or not they require special education has changed. One current thought is that the assessments are being completed more accurately than before, which would surely be a cause for such a dramatic increase.

A Second Thought Originates from New Policies

There are policies in place that may offer an incentive to put more students in special education. Some states might classify low-performing students as special education students instead of regular education students in order to acquire more funding for their schools. That can certainly cause an unexpected and seemingly inexplicable increase in the number of students qualifying for special education services.

Some states might classify low-performing students as special education students instead of regular education students in order to acquire more funding for their schools.

Whatever the case, it is good to remain up to date on statistics in your respective state or any state in which you are interested in teaching. Staying informed on any trends or changes is important to stay ahead of the game.