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K-12 Action Plan: How to Find and Retain Quality Special Education Teachers & Service Providers
Managed Services
Jun 20, 2023
May 01, 2024

Special Education departments, struggling to hire and retain qualified teachers and staff, are examining alternative methods to augment their search. Among public schools with teaching vacancies, 45% report a special education vacancy, hastening the urgency for speedy professional placement. Students, in turn, are disproportionately impacted by the shortage of qualified Special Education teachers and qualified service providers. According to the U.S. Department of Education Fact Sheet:

“Preexisting teacher shortages in critical areas such as special education… have only been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These shortages in critical areas have a direct impact on educational opportunity for students—and research shows that educator shortages disproportionately impact students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, students with disabilities, and students from rural communities.”      

U.S. Department of Education

In addition, Special Education positions had the highest vacancy rate (7%) of all teaching roles in public schools in October 2022. 

This K-12 action plan will help your district fill special education positions amidst a national shortage—and keep them filled.

Written By
Amy Radeka

Strategy 1: Evolve your approach by partnering with a Managed Service Provider

Special education is unique in its federally mandated requirements to provide free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students with disabilities. 

Providing FAPE involves: 

  • Hiring teachers and staff with adequate training

  • Crafting well-thought-out Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students who qualify

  • Effectively implementing IEPs for the betterment of the students

No small task for an already overburdened education system.

It’s common knowledge that qualified special education professionals are hard to find and schools are struggling with sourcing, hiring, and onboarding processes to get staff in place.

Evolving your hiring approach by partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) can save time and eliminate headaches when it comes to your contract staffing processes.

Why partner with an MSP?

Working with an MSP that has staffing agency partnerships can multiply your recruiting power and increase your district’s available talent pool. This evolved approach can surface more qualified candidates without putting an additional burden on your administrative team. To learn more, download the free resource: MSPs – New to Education…Not New to Business

Strategy 2: Enrich the work of teachers and staff

You’ve hired your special education service providers; now go the extra mile to support and enrich their work to increase retention and eliminate turnover at your district. A National Education Association survey found 55% of educators said they may leave the profession sooner than planned.

Special education professionals are passionate about improving outcomes for their students but curating and providing top-quality learning content can be hard to manage on your own. 

Teachers and staff often need guidance and support when it comes to assessment and instruction, IEP processes, navigating collaboration with multidisciplinary teams and how to access resources and tools. Providing top-notch support and professional development opportunities from experienced special education clinical experts and industry professionals can mean the difference between successful student outcomes and staff burnout.                                                             

Enriching your special education providers will not only lead to better student outcomes, but also improve the experience for the education professional and increase job satisfaction. See how BlazerWorks’ community of clinical special education advisors can support you.

Strategy 3: Elevate special education in your district

Special education professionals enter the classroom with specialized training in their disciplines, but still face challenges over and above their expertise daily. Elevate your district’s approach to issues by enriching your programs with specialized school-based clinical expertise that can be accessed through one-on-one support, district-level professional development, or remote collaboration.  

Clinical advisors trained in special education specialties like speech therapy, psychology, occupational therapy, and other related disciplines add depth to your special education activities. Integrating clinical expertise into your current learning environment by partnering with a special education advisory service provider can empower your staff with the knowledge they need to help students thrive and grow academically and emotionally. 

With this level of support, you’ll enhance your talent acquisition and retention processes, reduce stress on teachers and staff, and enrich the learning environment of all of your special needs students.

Meet The Author

Jaime Sowers


Clinical Advisory Team Director at BlazerWorks

Dr. Jaime Sowers, is the Clinical Advisory Team Director at BlazerWorks. Jaime earned his doctorate in innovation and leadership in 2018 from Wilmington University in Delaware. Prior to joining the BlazerWorks team, Jaime spent three years as the special education director for Santa Fe Public Schools in New Mexico. He is nearing the 20-year mark in education, spending time as a teacher, coordinator, and principal prior to becoming a director. Currently, he serves on two volunteer school boards and is an active member of the Council of Administrators of Special Education and the Council of Exceptional Children.

Get to know Jaime ›