Attract, Prepare, Retain

Attract, Prepare, Retain: Effective Personnel For All - Information and Resources

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is focusing on strategies to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel—general and special education teachers, early childhood personnel, and related services providers—who have the knowledge and skills needed to provide effective instruction, interventions, supports, and services to children with disabilities. This is a topic that is important for schools, states, communities, businesses, districts, and professional organizations. This topic disproportionately affects children with disabilities and their families due to the many unfilled positions and high attrition rates among special education teachers, early childhood personnel, and related services providers. This page provides research and resources for stakeholders to explore potential strategies and innovative approaches to address this critical need.  On this page you will find: 


Video Vignettes 

These videos offer the perspectives of educators and related service providers from around the country. The participants share what inspired them to become educators, what innovative approaches were incorporated into their preparation, or what motivates them to remain in the field. Some participants also describe how their thinking about effective teacher attraction, preparation, and retention has evolved over the years. OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg introduces the video series with an inspiring story of her own motivation to become and remain a special educator. We hope you find these videos both informative and uplifting!

Laurie VanderPloeg – Director, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education.  Director VanderPloeg shares how the passion, dedication, commitment, and the sacrifices that her mother made during her 50 years as an educator influenced her own decision to go into the same field.


Please enjoy these additional videos from educators and related service providers from around the country as they give their answer to "Why I Teach".

  • Kaitlin Ayers, Teacher of Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities shares what attracted her to the education profession and what made her want to stay (Attract, Retain)
  • Lisa Hill, Director for East Georgia Learning Resource System shares how great mentors throughout her career have kept her in the field of education for 30 years.  (Retain)
  • Yvette Mere-Cook, School Based Occupational Therapist shares how the support from her administrators have been critical in her retention in the field of education.  (Retain)
  • Adrea Truckenmiller, Assistant Professor of Special Education, Michigan State University shares several innovative approaches that were implemented in 2019 and how they have been able to show how these different approaches have been able to demonstrate how they have been effective. (Prepare)
  • Rebecca Vitelli, Early Childhood Special Education Teacher with the Colonial Early Education Program and 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year shares how her parents, who were both in education inspired her to join the field.  She also talks about her goal to make learning exciting and meaningful for all students.  (Attract)
  • Fanica Young, K6 Exceptional Educator High Incidence Disabilities shares how her teacher preparation program and the OSEP Project CREED (Culturally Responsive Exceptional Educators for Diversity) Preparation Scholarship prepared her to use innovative approaches in her classroom. (Prepare)


If you are interested in submitting a video to be highlighted on the website, please feel free to submit your video here


OSEP 2020 National Summit on Attract, Prepare, Retain 

OSEP hosted a virtual summit focusing on strategies to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel—general and special education teachers, early childhood personnel, and related services providers—who have the knowledge and skills needed to provide effective instruction, interventions, supports, and services to children with disabilities. The topic disproportionately affects children with disabilities and their families due to the many unfilled positions and high attrition rates among special education teachers, early childhood personnel, and related services providers.  Improving how we attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel for children with disabilities is a critical need that will only be resolved by prioritized and collaborative efforts.

The 2020 Summit brought together various stakeholders and explored potential strategies and innovative approaches to address this critical need. The virtual event was held over three days and allowed participants to register for each event individually or attend all three.

Each event was recorded and you will find the archived recordings, as well as information on each of the speakers on the 2020 National Summit Archive Page.


OSEP Symposium Series

Each year OSEP  conducts a Symposia Series to provide high-quality, timely, and evidence-based strategies to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.  The 2019 OSEP Symposia Series focused on strategies to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel to provide effective instruction, interventions, supports, and services to children with disabilities. These symposia highlighted current research on this topic and explored promising practices that are making a difference in programs, districts, and States.


Attract, Prepare, Retain: Resources

To explore resources from Federal centers and organizations, state specific resources, and resources from other organizations please click on the plus (+) sign to expand each section.

Federal Centers and Organizations

The following resources include reports, briefs, and tools created by Federally funded centers and grants. OSEP funds over 50 centers that provide a diverse range of services to special education stakeholders. 


Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO)

This page offers several readings, webinars, and other resources related to increasing and promoting the retention of the birth through third grade teaching workforce.

Collaboration for Effective Education Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center

This brief describes strategies for leveraging teacher candidates in school buildings as assets to help alleviate teacher shortages in many content areas and to provide individualized learning support for students with the greatest needs. 

This brief, created to inform policymakers, State educational agency personnel, district personnel, and preparation providers, offers an overview of short-term evidence-based strategies as well as long-term systemic solutions to special education teacher shortages. 

This planning framework from the CEEDAR Center provides guidelines to support educator preparation programs to integrate evidence-based and high-leverage practices within coursework and clinical experiences.

Due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the candidate pool of career changers to enter the teaching workforce is greater than ever. This brief provides guidelines for leveraging these potential candidates to address critical shortage areas.

This brief outlines short-term strategies for addressing Special education teacher shortages that, when paired with long-term comprehensive strategies, can be used to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel to serve students with disabilities.

This policy analysis, produced in collaboration with the New Teacher Center, summarizes State policy context in all 50 states related to how educators are prepared and continuously supported to serve the needs of students with disabilities.

College & Career Readiness & Success Center

This four-part learning series, developed through a collaboration among sis federally funded technical assistance centers, supports State education agency, local education agency, education preparation program, and community organization personnel in developing and implementing Grow Your Own programs in their state, region, or district.

Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center

This page lists reports, highlights state initiatives, and links resources developed by ECTA partners on the topic of the recruitment and retention of effective personnel.

IRIS Center

The IRIS Center offers a module for school administrators and other stakeholders who seek to support special educators and increase teacher retention. This module offers various perspectives and resources, concluding with an end-of-module assessment.

Center on Great Teachers and Leader (GTL Center)

This toolkit created in collaboration between the GTL Center and CEEDAR Center to support states and districts in identifying both short-term and long-term evidence-based strategies to address teacher shortages in special education.

The GTL Center’s Shortage Strategy Selection Tool provides resources, program exemplars, and research that will help teams identify, select, implement, and continuously improve strategies to address special education teacher shortages.

National Center to Improve Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Personnel for Children with Disabilities

The Personnel Improvement Center provides a collection of initiatives targeted at personnel recruitment and retention offered by a variety of organizations.

This report from the Personnel Improvement Center analyzes interviews with eight states to examine policies and strategic approaches for the recruitment and retention of personnel to serve students with disabilities in their states.

This practice brief, written in partnership with the National Coalition on Personnel Shortages, highlights strategies that various states, school districts, and Part C programs have used to recruit and retain qualified related service providers.

In 2010, the Personnel Improvement Center administered a survey to obtain information on state-level strategies for the recruitment and retention of special education personnel and related service providers. This policy analysis brief analyzes the results of the survey after being administered to 41 states.

National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI)

This brief from the NCPMI highlights strategies for improving school climate through pyramid model practices to promote teacher retention for teachers serving students with disabilities.

Regional Education Laboratory Midwest (REL Midwest)

This report summarizes a partnership between Regional Education Laboratory Midwest and a Michigan district to address strengthening teacher pipelines and diversifying the workforce. This report outlines considerations for data analysis, root-cause analysis, and goal setting that can be replicated by districts looking to implement a similar approach.

This resource provides guidance for school and district leaders to better target efforts to improve teacher retention through the use of teacher exit surveys.

This webinar, hosted by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest (REL Midwest), highlights actionable strategies to support teacher attraction, preparation, and retention, particularly in rural communities and contexts affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional Education Lab Northwest (REL Northwest)

This series, compiled by REL Northwest, presents evidence-based research, data, and resources to help practitioners and policymakers address teacher recruitment, preparation. and retention in their local contexts.

San Diego State University

This program aims to attract, mentor, and later transition prospective African American special educators and school psychologists into the teaching workforce while providing ongoing mentorship.

Texas Comprehensive Center

Grow Your Own Teacher Initiative Resources aims to answer critical questions using evidence and exemplars related to the implementation and effectiveness of Grow Your Own programs in order to recruit and retain high-quality educators.



The following tools, program exemplars, and resources related to educator shortages are created by various organizations aimed at attracting, preparing, and retaining educators in their individual states. Please note that OSEP does not own the following resources.


This resource, from the Alabama State Department of Education, provides an overview of alternative routes to certification and temporary certification options in the state.

This mentoring program works to improve teacher retention by providing novice teachers in hard-to-staff areas in participating Alabama districts access to ongoing mentoring and support by an experienced teacher.

This page aims to address teacher recruitment in critical shortage areas, such as autism, speech pathology, and gifted education by providing a list of financial incentives available for new hires in high-needs districts.


This infographic presents a current overview of educator retention and turnover in the State of Alaska.

This collection of resources from the Alaska Department of Education features a variety of strategies and program exemplars relating to the recruitment, preparation, and ongoing support of teachers in Alaska.


This program, primarily funded by the Arizona Office of the Governor, offers prospective teachers full-tuition scholarships for any K-12 licensure area in exchange for a commitment to teaching in an Arizona public or charter school for as many years as they received funding.

This loan program is designed to offer a maximum forgivable loan of $7,000 per year for Arizona residents looking to enter the teaching profession, primarily in critical shortage areas such as math, science, and special education.

This report, prepared by the Arizona Educator Retention and Recruitment Task Force, offers recommendations that leaders across Arizona could pursue to address factors that impact educator shortages in Arizona. Recommendations were organized by stakeholder group, such as policymakers, State education agency personnel, and local education agencies.

This loan repayment and stipend program aims to reduce related service provider shortages in specified regions by offering incentives of up to $25,000 for speech-language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, and child psychologists who provide early childhood development services.

Teach Camp is a program that aims to increase educator retention and development by offering a system of professional learning to first and second year teachers in topics such as special education essentials, law, and best practices.

The SETTA program provides tuition assistance for in-service paraprofessionals that seek to earn a special education teaching certification.

This guide, created by the Arizona Department of Education provides a variety of resources related to the assessment of teacher recruitment and retention needs as well as the recruitment and retention of teachers in areas identified as being of highest need.


This supplement to the Arkansas Equitable Access to Effective Educators Plan reviews various efforts to eliminate equity gaps for all students by examining strategies aimed at recruiting, preparing, and retaining high quality educators to serve critical shortage areas, including special education.

The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) reimburses for all assessments associated with chronically critical academic shortage areas, including all areas of special education.

The ADE Office of Educator Licensure and Department of Career Education offers a pathway for high school students to enter the educator workforce. This pathway begins by providing high school students with targeted coursework, later working as a paraprofessional, while continuing to pursue higher education and in a teacher internship, while completing an educator preparation program.

This program offers tuition reimbursement grants to Arkansas teachers and administrators pursuing higher education for up to six college credit hours each academic year, with priority given to those taking courses in high-needs areas such as special education.


This scholarship program gives up to $4,000 a year in funding for classified school employees, such as paraeducators, to complete a teacher preparation program to earn certification in special education, math, or science.

This research report from the Learning Policy Institute presents an overview of special education shortages in California. This report examines possible root causes and key challenges of the shortage and offers policy considerations and potential solutions.

This interactive map provides a district-level analysis of the teacher supply and demand in California, examining indicators such as percent of beginning teachers, percent of teachers of color, certification program enrollment, and attrition rate.

This report highlights data on the teacher workforce in the State of California. This includes an examination of the trends in areas of critical shortage, such as special education, and how these trends vary by location and student population.


This interactive dashboard uses data from the 2018-2019 Colorado Educator Shortage Survey to compare educator shortages throughout the State in various endorsements, including endorsement areas that serve students with disabilities.

This program from the Colorado Department of Higher Education offers an annual payment of up to $5,000 for up to five years for applicants serving in a rural district and/or a content shortage area, such as special education.


In partnership with the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority offers teachers in state-identified shortage areas, such as comprehensive special education, below-market interest rate mortgage loans to help teachers become homeowners in the communities where they work.


This page, compiled by the Delaware Department of Licensure and Certification, highlights an alternative certification program for individuals aiming to earn an initial teaching certificate or add-on certificate in special education.

This toolkit supports district and school administrators and staffs to develop a comprehensive approach to the selection of effective educators in areas of greatest need by offering examples of effective practices, resources, literature, and other references.

District of Columbia (Washington D.C.)

The Leadership Initiative for Teachers (LIFT) is a five-stage career ladder aimed at retaining teachers in areas of high-need, including special education, by providing high-performing teachers in District of Columbia Public Schools with opportunities for career advancement inside the classroom. Each stage of the career ladder involves additional responsibility and increased recognition and compensation.


This report investigates the effects of Florida's Statewide program designed to increase the supply of teachers in designated "hard-to-staff" areas, such as special education.

This program aims to aid highly qualified paraprofessionals who are currently working in Florida public schools to earn a Bachelor's degree and teaching licensure in special education.


The Georgia Teacher Pipeline summit is an annual event in which various Georgia stakeholders, including State education agency personnel, educator preparation programs, alternative preparation programs, local education agency personnel, school-level staff, and OSEP leaders, work collaboratively to develop a comprehensive approach for improving and strengthening the teacher pipeline in Georgia. Teams focus on short- and long-term talent management strategies to attract, prepare, and retain effective teachers and leaders for all students, including those with disabilities.

GaTAPP is an alternative preparation program, available in various districts throughout the State of Georgia, that aims to transition individuals into the teaching field from other career paths while providing ongoing mentoring and support as well as job-embedded clinical practice opportunities. Additionally, special education candidates participating in GaTAPP receive additional instruction throughout their time in the program.

This mentoring program provides first and second year Special Education Directors in the State of Georgia as they enter the workforce with ongoing mentoring and support through a professional learning community.


This incentive program offered by the Hawai’i State Department of Education aims to retain teachers in state-identified critical shortage areas by providing annual pay differentials in addition to their current salaries. Through this program, special education teachers would receive a pay differential of up to $10,000 a year.

This 2020 bill supports efforts to increase teacher recruitment and retention in Hawaii by allocating 25 million dollars in funds to create competitive salaries and equitable compensation for Hawaii teachers. This bill also establishes additional pay for special education teachers as well as teachers in hard-to-staff geographic locations.

This program assists service members and veterans to transition into teaching positions in areas designated as having the greatest need by the Hawaii State Department of Education, such as PK-12 special education, while financial and placement support as well as ongoing mentorship.


This infographic provides a current overview of educator retention, turnover, caseloads and workforce gaps in the State of Idaho.


This teacher training program aims to support prospective teachers by providing funding, as well as, academic and emotional support for individuals completing preparation programs in exchange for a commitment of teaching in a high-needs school or high-needs position for at least 5 years.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission offers tuition exemptions for up to 250 students seeking initial licensure in special education at an accredited Illinois university.

This report analyzes teacher shortage data in Illinois, including longitudinal data that demonstrates critical shortage areas, and identifies promising approaches to alleviating shortages in these areas, such as special education.


This page describes several alternative teacher preparation programs in Indiana, including all state-approved Transition to Teaching programs.

The Indiana Department of Education’s Office of Innovation offers this free module to provide guidance to districts looking to better develop strong mentoring and induction processes for new teachers to increase the retention novice teachers.

The Teacher Leaders Bootcamp aims to recruit, retain, and develop high-quality educators across the State by providing active teachers with skills and strategies to develop their personal leadership capacity. Program completers receive a $3,000 stipend and professional development credit.


This program aims to attract promising new teachers with competitive starting salaries, and retain effective teachers with leadership opportunities, increased compensation, and incentives for collaboration between teachers.

The Teach Iowa Scholar Program (TIS) offers loan repayment assistance for a maximum of five years for teachers in designated shortage areas, including the areas of visual impairment, deaf or hard of hearing, mild-moderate disabilities, and school counseling.


This program’s goal is to lower the attrition of teachers in critical shortage areas, especially special education, by providing one-on-one or small group digital mentoring and targeted support to novice teachers.


This resource, created by the Teach KY initiative, provides guidance for local education agencies looking to establish Grow-Your-Own programs throughout the State of Kentucky.

This legislation enacted by the Kentucky General Assembly, aims to recruit educators into critical shortage areas and diversify the educator workforce by establishing eight state-approved options for alternative certification in Kentucky.


This Fellowship is a year-long comprehensive program aimed at increasing the retention of special education leaders in Louisiana by offering in-person training and coaching.


This report presents overviews and policy implications and examines the effectiveness of five “Grow-Your-Own” (GYO) programs in the State of Maine. This report highlights the success of these five programs on teacher placement and retention in special education in particular.

MACM is an alternative preparation program that attempts to address Maine’s need for highly qualified special educators by giving conditionally-certified special educators with intensive mentoring and coursework that culminates in full certification.


This page describes several alternative teacher preparation programs in Maryland, with an emphasis on programs related to certification in high-needs regions and subjects as well as diversifying the educator workforce.

This bill supports efforts to address teacher shortages in Maryland by allocating funds towards digital outreach efforts for educator recruitment in critical shortage areas. This bill also features language specific to efforts for the recruitment and retention of special educators.


To ensure that students with disabilities are served by high quality special education Directors and Early Childhood Coordinators, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides four Leadership Institutes. These four Leadership Institutes gives participants collaboration opportunities and ongoing technical assistance and coaching.

This grant program provides tuition assistance for in-service paraprofessionals that seek to earn a teaching certification in a high-need discipline, such as special education.

Teach Western Mass (TWM) is a one-year teacher residency program that aims to provide aspiring teachers without prior education coursework in the State of Massachusetts, accelerated training and eventual licensure in special education (moderate disabilities) or other shortage areas.


This report summarizes a series of listening sessions involving over 120 educators, including special education teachers, general education teachers, school leaders, related service providers, district leaders, and preparation providers. These listening sessions resulted in a list of solutions for policymakers to consider to address teacher shortages in Michigan.


The Minnesota Department of Education has partnered with Region 10 Low Incidence projects, local districts, and regional institutions of higher education to implement several initiatives related to the recruitment and retention of special educators. Initiatives include tuition support, mentoring systems, and other collaborative recruitment activities.

This loan repayment program provides teachers with student loan repayment assistance if they are teaching in a designated geographical region or shortage area, such as special education.

This program, led by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Special Education Division, aims to better prepare current preparation program students and recent graduates by pairing them with an experienced mentor educator who is certified in the same licensure area.

Minnesota Low Incidence Project offers tuition support for individuals pursuing certification in the areas of Blind Visually Impaired (BVI) and Physical/Health Disabilities (P/HD)


This loan forgiveness program aims to address speech-language pathologist shortages in Mississippi schools by offering a forgivable loan to speech-language pathologists who commit to serving in Mississippi public or charter school districts for at least one year for each year of funding received.


The Teacher Workforce Outreach Plan outlines the priorities of the Missouri Department of Education’s teacher recruitment efforts as well as strategies the State is implementing to increase teacher retention.

Troops to Teachers Missouri seeks to place retiring military personnel into teaching positions in critical shortage areas such as special education, math and science as well as non-instructional positions such as paraprofessionals, counselors, psychologists, school nurses, speech therapists, audiologists, and physiotherapists. 


This infographic presents a current overview of educator shortages in Montana, including shortage subject areas, mobility and retention, as well as the implications of Montana’s educator shortage.

The OPI Special Education Endorsement Project addresses the shortage of special education teachers in rural Montana by placing a licensed educator  in a non-special education area in a special education classroom, while concurrently giving  mentoring and coursework to gain endorsement in special education. Teachers admitted to the project must serve in a special education teaching position for two years after obtaining the special education endorsement.

This loan assistance program, established through House Bill 211, provides loan assistance to educators serving rural schools in subjects defined as critical shortage areas, including special education.


This legislative bill aims to alleviate teacher shortages and diversify the educator workforce by allowing non-citizens who are in the United States on work permits to become certified in a state-identified critical shortage area, such as special education, following the completion of a preparation program.

Nevada’s Coalition to Address Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services created this page to assist special educators and related service providers who are seeking loan forgiveness programs and resources.

New Mexico

This bill supports efforts to increase teacher recruitment in New Mexico by establishing Grow-Your-Own programs in high-needs areas and giving loans for educational assistance to earn licensure through these programs. 

This program, established by the New Mexico Public Education Department, seeks to reduce teacher turnover by offering financial rewards to high-performing teachers and school leaders. This program gives priority to teachers and leaders in low-performing schools as well as areas with teaching shortages, such as special education.

This alternative licensure program aims to attract and retain special education teachers in central New Mexico by allowing teacher candidates the opportunity to co-teach with an experienced teacher while earning a first-year teacher salary and benefits and concurrently completing coursework for licensure.

New Jersey

The Urban Teacher Academy attracts high school students to pursue a career in teaching by providing practicum experiences and exposure that focus on teaching in high poverty schools and state-identified high shortage subject areas, including special education. 

New York

This guide, created by the New York City Department of Education aims to support new hire induction and retention by providing an overview of hiring initiatives in New York, as well as onboarding guidance.  This guide also includes guidance specific to prospective teachers of students with disabilities.

This fact sheet provides an overview of educator shortages in New York, including shortage subject areas, the impact of retirement, and teacher preparation data.

North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction offers several resources and archived presentations related to recruitment and retention of teachers to serve exceptional children.

This page highlights resources and strategies for the recruitment of related service providers for students with disabilities.

North Carolina Teachers of Tomorrow is a state-wide alternative preparation program in North Carolina that certifies teachers in high-needs areas, such as special education, through virtual, self-paced preparation for individuals who already hold a four-year degree in any subject.

North Dakota

This discontinued program was designed to help North Dakota school districts recruit and retain qualified teachers by providing the opportunity for teachers serving in critical need or shortages areas to receive loan forgiveness.

This bill would allow individuals who do not have a teaching license to receive a year-by-year certification to teach non-core subjects, such as special education, if they meet certain criteria and have relevant work experience.

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction's Office of Special Education awards traineeships in priority areas of disabilities to North Dakota teachers who wish to pursue graduate level re-training in the field of special education.


This collection of resources from the Ohio Department of Education illustrates a variety of strategies, considerations and program exemplars related to the attraction, preparation and retention of teachers in Ohio.

The Ohio Related Services Workgroup was established to address causes and solutions for the shortage of related service providers in school settings. This report summarizes root causes of the related service provider shortage in Ohio and offers recommendations for strategies and approaches to alleviate the shortage.

This section of the Ohio Special Education Profile highlights background information and data surrounding Ohio’s special educator and related service provider shortage.


This page describes several alternative teacher preparation programs in Oklahoma, with an emphasis on programs related to certification in high-needs regions and subjects.

In 2019, several bills were introduced in Oklahoma that aim to strengthen teacher recruitment and retention pipelines in order to address the critical teacher shortage in the state.

This program aims to improve early-career educator retention by pairing novice teachers with mentors to provide ongoing support as well as to increase the use of evidence-based practices.

This study examines trends in the educator pipeline, certification, and mobility by subject area in order to calculate projections for future educator workforce demands in Oklahoma. Specifically, this study projects an increase in educator certification in areas related to serving students with special needs.

“Boot Camp”, established through OK HB 1233, is a 150-hour non-traditional special education teacher certification program aimed at providing prospective teachers a provisional license to teach in the area of mild/moderate or severe/profound disabilities.


This grant program seeks to address speech-language pathologist shortages throughout Oregon by providing up to $10,000 in scholarships to individuals seeking licensure in speech-language pathology or audiology.


This report, written in collaboration between the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Learning Policy Institute, examines root causes, policy implications, and strategies for addressing teacher shortages in Pennsylvania. This report highlights specific challenges surrounding and strategies for addressing special education shortages in the state.

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Teacher Preparation Index tracks the graduation to hiring rate of educator preparation program (both traditional and alternative) graduates. Additionally, the Teacher Preparation Index also shows long-term performance reports in specific certification areas, including special education.

South Carolina

PACE is an alternative certification program in South Carolina aimed at designing a pathway for career changers to earn certification over a three-year period in a critical needs area, while working in a classroom.

SC-Create is a scholarship program that offers tuition-free coursework to in-service teachers looking to transition to or add-on a licensure in several areas related to serving students with disabilities. These areas include, but are not limited to, special education, speech-language pathology, and school psychology.

The South Dakota Department of Education offers student loan forgiveness for teachers working in critical need geographic areas as well as critical need subject areas.


This resource serves to enhance teacher preparation and retention in Tennessee by providing a framework for the development, implementation, and monitoring of partnerships between educator preparation programs (EPPs) and local education agencies (LEAs).

This report provides an overview of the retention, movement and attrition of Tennessee public school teachers, with emphasis placed on high-needs content areas, such as special education and career & technical education (CTE).


This resource list compiled by the Texas Education Agency lists several programs and grants that provide financial assistance to individuals seeking teaching certification with an emphasis on alternative preparation programs.

This program aims to retain certified classroom teachers in designated shortage fields, including PK-12 special education, by offering up to $2,500 per year in loan repayment assistance.

The Texas Education Agency attempts to address teacher shortages and diversify its teacher workforce by offering competitive grants for districts to develop Grow Your Own programs aimed at attracting high school students to pursue a career in education.


This program provides increased support from the Utah State Board of Education to special education directors and leaders to build effective and compliant special education programs through the expansion of district-level coaching and mentoring in charter as well as some public school settings.

This report analyzes strategies, policies and incentives that have been used to address the attraction and retention of high-quality teachers in Utah in order to assist districts and schools in examining their own recruitment and retention practices.

This bill supports efforts to increase teacher recruitment in high-needs areas, including special education, by awarding grants to districts to enhance professional development and offer stipends to teachers in American Indian- and Alaskan Native-concentration schools


This program, created through a partnership between the Virginia Department of Education and Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), aims to improve teacher retention by providing free membership to CEC and professional development support specifically designed by CEC.

This program is designed for educators who desire to pursue a position in special education leadership. It offers year-long workshops, seminars, and field experiences that culminate in special education director certification.

This Grow Your Own program addresses teacher shortages in critical shortage areas and hard-to-staff schools by identifying, training, and, later, financially supporting high school students interested in a teaching career.


Recruiting Washington Teachers is a teacher academy program that aims to support high school students to pursue teaching careers in State-identified shortage areas, including special education.

This report, from the National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) examines data surrounding teacher preparation experiences and workforce entry of graduates of special education teacher education programs in Washington.

This report presents a toolkit of recommended strategies for growing and sustaining Grow Your Own programs in Washington as well as mini case studies of the sustainability of these programs.

West Virginia

This page, compiled by the West Virginia Department of Education, provides alternative certification program and partner district information for individuals seeking to earn a provisional teaching certificate in special education.


This module series provides prospective teachers with guidance on the various pathways to licensure in Wisconsin. This series includes a module on alternative preparation routes to certification in shortage areas such as special education, mathematics, and science.

The 10 Sped program is an alternative route to cross-categorical or early childhood special education teacher certification that is aimed at career changers who are currently employed full time.

This bill would create an alternative pathway for special educators in Wisconsin to become licensed by showing competency that is comparable to that of testing requirements for licensure.

This bill aims to increase the teacher workforce in Wisconsin, especially in critical shortages areas such as special education, by creating a license reciprocity pathway for individuals who hold teacher licensure in another State. 


This program seeks to address teacher shortages by providing teacher candidates pursuing certification in special education, math, science, reading, or teaching English as a second language with loan repayment assistance in exchange for a minimum of two years of service in a Wyoming public school.



Other Organizations

The following resources include research papers, briefs, program exemplars, and tools created by various organizations. These organizations are not affiliated with OSEP but align with the goals and strategies of OSEP’s efforts to attract, prepare, and retain effective personnel to serve students with disabilities.

Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health (AAIMH)

This video introduces and highlights pathways to various types of endorsement for infant mental health practitioners.

These guidelines are intended to serve as a tool for building a comprehensive infant and early childhood mental health system by creating a shared framework for in service provider preparation as well as professional development.

The School Superintendents Association (AASA)

The School Superintendents Association offers several academies aimed at utilizing cross-institutional partnerships to effectively prepare school and district leaders, particularly those from diverse backgrounds.

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)

This segment of AACTE's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion video series highlights three approaches that AACTE is taking to address the shortage of highly qualified special education teachers.

This brief provides an overview of research identifying factors that influence special education teacher shortages and suggests a systemic approach to improve special education teacher retention.

This NIC attempts to address the problem of special education teacher shortages through a partnership between eleven specially-selected preparation programs in higher education. Members of the NIC are implementing a range of strategies, which aim to positively impact the special education teacher shortage by the Fall of 2022.

American Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

This webinar features speakers from various institutions, including OSEP grantees, and focuses on the preparation and retention of an effective early childhood workforce to serve students with disabilities.

American Institutes for Research (AIR)

This resource collection highlights reports, briefs, videos and infographics produced by the American Institutes for Research on trends, projections and research on critical teacher shortages in the United States.

In 2017, seventeen states submitted their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans. This page, from the American Institutes for Research, provides an overview of ten overarching ways in which these seventeen ESSA plans address critical teacher shortage areas.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

AOTA’s Pediatric Fellowship Programs aim to increase the retention of occupational therapists by providing training programs that advance the knowledge and skills of licensed occupational therapists in focused areas of practice.

These two pages present briefs, videos, scholarship information and other resources aimed at attracting prospective students to pursue a career in occupational therapy.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

In 2019, ASHA hosted a town hall on the need to expand the school-based SLP workforce through innovative strategies and solutions.

This resource collection provides an overview of the challenges surrounding the school-based SLP shortage as well as resources related to the recruitment and retention of school-based SLPs.

Center for American Progress

This interactive map provides examples of programs and initiatives across the country that aim to improve systems for attracting, preparing, and retaining educators.

This report from the Center on American Progress presents the findings from a national survey on school districts’ human capital practices and analyzes the impact of those human capital systems on teacher attraction and retention.  

National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER)

This report analyzes data on special education and STEM teacher shortages in Washington State and outlines a number of potential solutions at the school, district, and State levels to improve special education and STEM teacher pipelines.

This report investigates the effects of Statewide teacher incentive programs in hard-to-staff subjects, such as special education. This report finds a relationship between financial incentives, such as loan forgiveness, and decreased teacher attrition in shortage areas.

Clemson University

This program works to recruit, retain, and develop certified African American male teachers in schools and content areas where they are highly underrepresented, particularly in elementary and middle school settings.

Coalition for Teacher Quality

The Coalition for Teacher Quality includes over 100 organizations, over a dozen of which are centered on students with disabilities. This series of briefs aims to provide various stakeholders with strategies, resources, and tools to build strong and diverse teacher and leader pipelines.

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

This program matches novice special education teachers and teacher candidates completing their residency with a more experienced mentor to provide ongoing support to the teachers as they begin their careers.

Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

This resource page lists strategies, highlights State initiatives, and links program exemplars on the topic of strengthening teacher pipelines in order to attract, prepare, and retain educators to serve all students.

This interactive map provides an overview of strategies for building teacher pipelines in each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.

This campaign spotlights innovative practices, policies and stories of progress that States are adopting to strengthen educator preparation, especially in critical shortage areas.


Education Commission of the States

This collection provides an overview of State-specific shortage data that have been published in the past five years. This collection does not include States’ Shortage Area Listing reports that are reported to the U.S. Department of Education annually.

This resource collection compiles 50-State comparisons of state-specific information related to various aspects of teacher shortages, such as data reports, State policies, financial incentives, mentoring and induction programs, and more.

This brief explores how alternative certification can be used to address teacher shortages by providing an overview of the research, State exemplars, and considerations for policymakers considering developing legislation on alternative certification.

Education Commission of the States provides an overview of various legislation proposed and enacted in States across the country to attract teachers to high-need schools and subjects through targeted recruitment efforts. 

This brief series examines five strategies States are using to address teacher shortages in the United States: alternative certification, financial incentives, induction and mentorship, evaluation and feedback, and teacher leadership.

Learning Policy Institute (LPI)

This research review examines strategies for attracting and retaining educators at the Federal, State, and district levels.

This report reviews research and examines State initiatives focused on six strategies to attract, prepare, and retain educators, with an emphasis on critical shortage areas. These six strategies are: Service scholarships and loan forgiveness; high-retention pathways into teaching; mentoring and induction; developing high-quality school leaders; competitive compensation; and recruitment strategies to expand the pool of qualified educators.

This brief highlights the significant role principal leadership plays in teacher recruitment, retention, and attrition.

This resource presents a variety of interactive tools, research briefs, and strategies for addressing teacher shortages in the U.S. This toolkit includes a specialized section on special education teacher shortages.

This interactive map highlights factors that reflect and impact teacher supply and attrition in each of the 50 States, focusing on indicators such as teacher attractiveness, teacher equity, compensation, and working conditions.

National Association of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP)

This report provides an overview of the shortage crisis in direct support professional workforce through an examination of various data sources, research, and other related policies.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

This research summary explores the school psychologist shortage, emphasizing the regional and differences in which these shortages take place and preparation program availability.

This resource guide provides specific recommendations for how best to address the shortages in school psychology and recruit effective personnel to serve students at all levels.

This project aims to leverage current practitioners in order to expose high school students and undergraduates, especially those from diverse backgrounds, to school psychology as a career.

These two pages support attracting and preparing high-quality school psychologists by offering a variety of resources, preparation program information and licensing information to prospective school psychology candidates.

National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)

This report highlights five diverse educator preparation programs that take innovative approaches to special education teacher certification.

The National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services (NCPSSERS)

This resource collection provides reports and data about the special education teacher and related service provider shortage.

NCPSSERS provides a dialogue guide for individuals seeking to discuss personnel shortages for students with disabilities with various stakeholders, including policymakers, institutes of higher education and school administrators.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

These reports highlight essential questions and policy options to support State legislators considering policies to recruit, prepare and retain effective teachers.

This report highlights the overwhelming need for each State to building the education work force that is based on their State's specific needs.

National Education Association (NEA)

This report summarizes policy recommendations for addressing the recruitment and retention of teachers for high-needs schools that were developed through a series of summits on teacher recruitment and recruitment. Over 2,000 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) from seven states participated in these summits over the course of two years.

National Education Policy Center (NEPC)

This document offers a variety of research and policy reviews as well as resource guides related to the topic of teacher employment and retention through a policy lens.

New America

This resource highlights the impact of Grow Your Own programs on overcoming barriers that lead to critical teacher shortages and provides State exemplars of successful Grow Your Own program implementation.

Northeast Regional Resource Center

The Northeast Regional Resource Center and key partners offer a framework for action to support State, district and school leaders in retaining quality teachers, especially those in special education.

The PARAprofessional Resource & Research Center (PAR²A Center)

This resource library highlights research studies, briefs, and program exemplars on educator recruitment and preparation through paraeducator career ladder programs.

Teacher Incentive Fund

This brief provides guidelines and a framework for school and district leaders, human resource personnel, and policymakers to develop a strategic accountability approach to managing teacher retention, mobility, and turnover.

University of Central Washington’s School of Education

This brief provides a comprehensive strategy to address teacher shortages in Washington with an emphasis on growth in critical shortage areas such as special education. This strategy includes eliminating financial barriers for teacher candidates and implementing virtual student teacher supervision.




If you know of any additional resources relating to attracting, preparing, and/or retaining educators to serve students with disabilities that you would like to share with the Office of Special Education Programs, please send them through our SmartSheet form.