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Defining and preparing high-quality teachers in special education: What do we know from the research?

Personnel Preparation

ISBN: 978-1-59749-274-4, eISBN: 978-1-84950-527-7

Publication date: 3 June 2008


Research over the last decade or so has made it clear that quality teachers matter to student achievement. What is less clear is the ways in which they matter and how we can prepare such high-quality teachers. Nowhere is this lack of clarity more evident than in special education, where we have few studies on teacher quality and even fewer studies on the type of preparation opportunities that would lead to high quality. Thus, it is difficult to make evidence-based decisions about how quality special education teachers should be defined and prepared. As a field, we have to turn to research in general education to provide a sense of some of the dimensions of teacher quality and effective teacher education. In this chapter, we provide a summary of the research on characteristics of highly qualified teachers and what we know from the research on teacher education and professional development that might foster these qualities, both in general and in special education. Part of our discussion centers on the concerns surrounding this body of research and the challenges of applying the findings to the field of special education. Although these challenges pose considerable problems, we are optimistic that potential solutions exist and can be reached through an alignment of initial teacher education and induction.


Brownell, M.T., Leko, M.M., Kamman, M. and King, L. (2008), "Defining and preparing high-quality teachers in special education: What do we know from the research?", Scruggs, T.E. and Mastropieri, M.A. (Ed.) Personnel Preparation (Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 35-74.



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