State education officials are hoping to use additional federal grant funding to stem the tide of public-school special-education teachers departing their jobs.
Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced Aug. 17 that the Virginia Department of Education has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand state and local efforts to reduce turnover and promote retention of special-education teachers.
The school systems that will share in grant funding will be announced later.
School divisions consistently report special education as their most critical shortage area, state officials said, and the funding will build upon previous grants in the same area.
“Special education has been the commonwealth’s most pressing critical shortage area for 15 consecutive years,” Lane said in a statement. “Reducing turnover and retaining special educators is even more critical now, as all of the commonwealth’s schools prepare to reopen for in-person instruction.”
The grant will support efforts over the next five years in two or three (of the state’s 132) school divisions with acute shortages to ameliorate the factors contributing to the high turnover rate among special-education teachers, officials said.
“Special education is one of the most rewarding teaching fields, but it also can be one of the most challenging,” Lane said. “Our efforts to reduce turnover among special educators are grounded in the research that shows that when teachers are prepared to successfully manage the challenges, they are more likely to stay in the classroom.”