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Nevada is Increasing the Number of Special Education Teachers to Accommodate a Growing Student Population
The 2016-17 school year in Nevada began with an urgent call for more educators. The shortage is so dire in Nevada that the state declared it an emergency, which allows vacancy-filled schools to hire teachers from out of state without a local license. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval released a statement announcing that teachers licensed in another state can get a provisional license to teach in Nevada.
In the Clark County School District, the shortage is particularly serious, given the increase in population due to a growing economy and a surging population. The school district even reported that they cannot accept students who move into the district and meet the needs of its special needs program. The Clark County School District, the nation’s fifth largest school district, is at capacity.
Clark County began a campaign called “Calling All Heroes” to attract national teaching talent. Their recruitment efforts extend all the way to Boston, where they spelled out the district’s website URL in the city’s mountains of snow.
Washoe County has also been in the spotlight, reporting a need for 50 teachers for the 2015 school year—half of which were for special education teachers.
Nevada’s Special Education Programs Rely on Master’s-Prepared Teachers for Successful Outcomes
The Nevada Department of Education, Office of Special Education, maintains a commitment to ensuring that all students are college- and career-ready upon exiting the public school system. In order to accomplish this, the Office of Special Education partners with education stakeholders across the state to promote educational success through:
- Rigorous academic programs
- Evidence-based practices
- Sustained professional development
- Technical assistance in data-based decision making
- Building partnerships with schools, parents, and districts
The Office of Special Education provides oversight to ensure that state and federal regulations are followed and that the state is able to meet the educational needs and services of students with disabilities and their families through the proper administration of state and federal funding.
As of the 2014-15 school year, Nevada was home to 459,095 public school students. Of those, 53,755 were identified as special education students. The largest number of special education students in the state (36,486) were in the Clark County School District, followed by the Washoe County School District, at 8,840.
In Clark County, the largest number of special education students were identified as having a learning disability (15,349), followed by:
- Speech/language impairment: 4,877
- Autism: 4,586
- Developmental delay: 4,278
- Mental retardation: 1,469
- Emotional disturbance: 1,322
- Multiple impairments: 991
How One Master’s-Prepared Educator is Making a Difference in Nevada
Robert Schaefer, a special education department chair and special education teacher at Rex Bell Elementary School in the Clark County School District, has been awarded the 2016 Nevada CLD Teacher of the Year Award.
The Council for Learning Disabilities recognizes educators who “consistently provide quality instruction to students with learning disabilities.”
Schaefer, who has been a master’s-educated (MAT) special education teacher in both Illinois and Nevada, ensures all of his students have equal opportunities to understand and master the curriculum, making use of assistive technology and strategic instruction.
He believes a curriculum must be coupled with love and respect and a deep connection between student and educator.