Special educators say that many of the teachers and paraprofessionals who work directly with students with disabilities are ill-prepared to do so.

In a survey of nearly 1,500 special education teachers across the country, just 8 percent rated the general education teachers they work alongside as well-prepared to serve students with exceptionalities. And, only 12 percent had confidence in the paraeducators who are frequently tasked with supporting kids with disabilities at school.

The newly-released findings come from a survey of special education professionals conducted in fall 2018 by the Council for Exceptional Children, a group that represents special educators.

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“This is problematic, given that inclusion is the most cited strategy for instruction of children with exceptionalities, the majority of whom are served in general education settings,” CEC noted in a report about the survey.

More than half of students with disabilities spend at least 80 percent of their day in general education environments, according to federal data, so the ability of general education teachers and paraprofessionals to serve this population can have a significant impact.

Nearly 70 percent of special educators polled considered themselves and related service providers like speech and occupational therapists well-prepared to work with children with special needs. Just over half said that other special educators were up to the task, but that number dropped to 38 percent when they were asked about novice special educators.

Separately, the CEC survey found that most special educators refer to students’ individualized education programs, or IEPs, daily or weekly, but they reported having too little time available to plan lessons based on the IEPs.

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