“These things begin to complicate one another as you move along into higher math,” Gillespie said.
Special education teachers who are fully certified in K-12 special education often lack preparation in mathematics, Gillespie noted, adding that they typically take one math course which might or might not be college-level algebra.
Alternative certification courses present another challenge, because no math competency is needed in order to be hired for a special education co-teaching position. In some cases, people with no special education competency are hired for special education teaching positions.
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General education teachers face a number of challenges when it comes to educating students with disabilities, including:
- Identifying each student’s area of ability.
- Determining how to address that before the student becomes overwhelmed.
- The proper way to assess a special education student’s progress.
- The special education teacher might know a lot about the subject he or she is in the general education classroom to co-teach, or might know very little about the subject.
Dr. Alyson Mike, outreach coordinator and director of professional development at the New Teacher Center, said it is important to improve teachers’ abilities at the onset of their careers.