Using strategies to prevent teachers from leaving the profession could save schools money and lead to better outcomes for students, including those with disabilities, said panelists during an Oct. 30 virtual webinar on teacher retention.

Programs such as mentoring, professional development and teacher leadership opportunities can ensure a stable workforce, said the panel members during the National Summit on Improving Effective Personnel for Children With Disabilities. The multi-day summit was hosted by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs.

“The more supported teachers are in their early careers, the more likely they are to stay in the profession,” said OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg, who facilitated the webinars and urged school systems to “challenge the status quo” when developing solutions to retain teachers.

Teachers leave the field for many reasons, including low pay and little support from administrators. Special educators cite job demands such as excessive paperwork as another reason they leave teaching.  A report from the U.S. Department of Education shows that in 2016-17, every state except Illinois and New Mexico reported shortages of special education teachers.

Education stakeholders are also concerned COVID-19 will add to the challenge of retaining qualified special education teachers because of cuts to state funding and an increase in retirements and resignations.

To help combat teacher shortages, the panelists recommend the following practices.

  • Empower teachers through training, leadership
  • Collaborate with other stakeholders
  • Create a value-based culture

Read the full article about helping teachers become leaders by Kara Arundel at Education Dive.