Pilot Program Supports First-Year Special Education Teachers

RICHMOND, Va. — Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane and Secretary of Education Atif Qarni today announced a pilot program to provide resources and professional development opportunities for first-year special education teachers.

The program is the result of a partnership between the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), a non-profit professional association dedicated to improving outcomes for students with disabilities.

“Special education is consistently the number-one critical shortage area for teachers,” Lane said. “I want to thank the Council for Exceptional Children for helping us do more to support our new special education teachers, while we seek to recruit more educators into this challenging, but incredibly rewarding area.”

“By supporting new teachers, we increase the likelihood that they will succeed in the classroom.” Qarni said. “I hope every school division in the commonwealth will take advantage of this opportunity to support its first-year special educators.”

Teachers must be registered by their employing school division’s human resources office by November 30 to participate in the pilot. The following teachers are eligible:

  • Special education teachers who are new to the profession and have been teaching special education students since the start of the 2018-2019 school year; and
  • Teachers who have taught other subjects or focus areas but transferred to become special education teachers for the first time during the 2018-2019 school year.

First-year special education teachers participating in the pilot will receive the following:

  • A letter from Governor Ralph A. Northam congratulating and thanking them for choosing special education as a profession and encouraging them to continue in the field.
  • A free electronic version of The Survival Guide for New Special Education Teachers, published by CEC, and authored by two Virginia special educators.
  • A one-year membership to CEC providing access to information, resources and professional development opportunities, including subscriptions to two CEC publications: Exceptional Children and Teaching Exceptional Children; discounts on evidence-based publications; online learning and live events; and access to peer-to-peer support from thousands of special educators,
  • Three hours of professional development, specifically designed by CEC for new Virginia special educators.
  • Free registration to attend the 2018 Virginia statewide CEC conference for special education professionals.

“On behalf of CEC, I welcome these talented educators to their very own peer network that reaches beyond Virginia and includes teachers from across the country,” CEC Executive Director Alexander T. Graham said. “CEC will become their professional home with evidence-based resources and materials to support their practice. I applaud Governor Northam, Secretary Qarni and state Superintendent Lane for their innovative leadership in supporting early-career teachers. CEC seeks to duplicate this effort in other states to support teachers, elevate the profession and alleviate the severe nationwide shortage of special educators.”