National Trends in the Sources of Supply of Teachers in Special and General Education

Fall 2007

Source: Teacher Education and Special Education Volume 30, Issue 4 Fall 2007, p. 217-232


This paper provides the first national information specifically on (a) the national demand supply, and shortage of first-time special education teachers (SETs) in comparison to general education teachers (GETs) as a function of the amount of teacher preparation (i.e., extensive, some, or none), and (b) trends from 1987-88 to 1999-2000 in the national supply of entering and continuing teachers.

The main questions addressed by this research were:

1. How large is teacher quantity demand and shortage?

2. To what extent do major sources of supply satisfy the total quantity demand for teachers?

3. To what extent do sources of supply satisfy the quantity demand for entering teachers?

4. To what extent do sources of supply satisfy the quantity demand for first-time teachers

5. What are trends in the annual supply of degree majors in teacher preparation?


Results indicated that the total demand for SETs increased 38% from 240,000 in 1987-88 to 330,000 in 1999-2000, a rate of growth greater than the 26% increase observed for GETs.
For entering teachers, the reserve pool was the predominant source of supply of both SETs and GETs: However, only 46% of first-time SETs completed extensive teacher preparation with degree majors in their primary areas of teaching, whereas the comparable figure for GETs was 82%.
As an indication of the inadequate supply of extensively prepared teachers in special education, about 28% of first-time teachers hired in special education positions had completed teacher preparation in general education.
Finally, a modest decline in the supply of degree graduates in special education has occurred since 1997-98 in spite of the increasing quantity demand for entering SETs.
Updated: Sep. 25, 2008