The field of special education could be headed for troubled times ahead. According to a new study, it appears that there very well may be shortages of PhDs in the area come the next five years, if something doesn’t change.
The report, which comes from the Special Education Faculty Needs Assessment project at Claremont Graduate University, does attribute the bulk of this problem to the fact that many current special education teachers will be retiring, with hardly enough staff to compensate for the amount of people in need. An estimated one half to two thirds may leave their jobs, which is a significant number.
Job shortages in the PhD arena are not uncommon, but special education has had this problem for decades. The demand for qualified teachers remains high, but there aren’t enough prospects. Universities would basically need to triple the amount of doctorate degree graduates annually to sufficiently meet the needs of this market.
So what is being done to correct the problem? Well nothing is set in stone, but according to the study, the Department of Education and other educational establishments will need to arrange a strategy that will accelerate the time it takes for these PhD candidates to graduate. As stated in the report, the one additional year before graduation decreases the odds of becoming a faculty member significantly. There also must be an effort to financially support the students.
The research was partly comprised by Sue Robb, a professor in CGU’s School of Educational Studies. Interestingly enough, Robb conducted her own study back in 2001 regarding the shortages of PhD’s, which brought to light the issue circling special education. “This problem will not go away by itself”, Rob indicated. She continued by also suggesting that after a 10 year interim, the time was right to build upon this substantial and possibly troubling information, and take action.