Special Education Teacher Education Research: Current Status and Future Directions

Feb. 28, 2010

Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, v. 33 no. 1 (February 2010)
p. 8-24.

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors propose an agenda for special education teacher education researchers. The authors emphasize that particular attention should be paid to policy work and studies of innovations in pre-service preparation, induction and mentoring, and professional development.
Because previous research is limited and unfocused, the foundation for future research is weak, but opportunities to study questions of importance and interest are seemingly limitless.

The authors discuss strategies to bolster the research foundation, namely, by oversampling special education teachers in the Schools and Staffing Survey and the Teacher Follow-Up Survey and by fostering the development of models of teacher development and related measures of teacher quality.


The authors conclude that the most serious impediments to developing a coherent and comprehensive body of research on teacher education derives from the absence of
(a) theoretical and conceptual frameworks for guiding the development of innovations and
(b) technically adequate outcome measures with which to assess the effects.

The authors believe that the development and validation of teacher quality measures should be a top priority for teacher education researchers.
Furthermore, current federal databases, such as the SASS and the TFS, as well as state databases are insufficient for studying teacher education policy issues in special education.

The authors urge the U.S. Department of Education to consider oversampling SETs to increase the power of analyses undertaken with this important subgroup of teachers or, alternatively, to constitute a separate but nationally representative sample of SETs.

Finally, the authors are concerned about the future of traditional teacher preparation as the competition among providers intensifies and its cost to consumers is reduced (Carey, 2009). The authors argue that research will differentiate universities from online course providers, and our ultimate value to higher education may lie not in the number of teachers we produce but more so in the knowledge that we generate about preparing them well.

Carey, K. (2009, September/October). College for $99 a month. Washington Monthly. Retrieved October 14, 2009.

Updated: Jun. 13, 2010