Retaining Effective Personnel to Serve Children with Disabilities (May 2019)

Virtual Event
Meeting Who

The event was open to current OSEP Grantees (State and discretionary)

This symposium focused on strategies to retain effective personnel in areas of critical need. The event opened with a message from the OSEP Director, Laurie VanderPloeg, and featured experts and practitioners who discussed strategies for retaining personnel by increasing their knowledge and understanding of evidence-based practices, enhancing their professional development, and supporting their ability to address challenges that detract from longevity in the profession. 

Symposium Recording and Meeting Resources

Presenter Information


Symposium Prework

Retaining Effective Personnel to Serve Children with Disabilities: Resources

This webpage contains resources that are provided for the user’s convenience. The inclusion of these materials is not intended to reflect its importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered. These materials may contain the views and recommendations of various subject matter experts as well as hypertext links, contact addresses and websites to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. The opinions expressed in any of these materials do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any outside information included in these materials

College and Career Readiness Success Center

  • Grow Your Own: A Systemic Approach to Securing an Effective Educator Talent Pool
    This learning series supports SEAs, LEAs, educator preparation programs, and community organizations interested in developing and implementing Grow Your Own (GYO) programs in their state, region or district. GYO is a local approach to developing an educator pipeline that leverages existing talent to meet local workforce needs. GYO strategies can address educator shortages and retention issues, promote a more diverse workforce and support college and career readiness development in high school students.

National Center for Systemic Improvement

  • Exit Interview Questions
    The purpose of the exit interview is to gain the perspective of the person leaving and gather information about revisions that may have to be made to the position for the person coming in, as well as to inform hiring decisions.
  • My Position Roadmap
    There is a high rate of staff turnover in Part C. A few states from the NCSI Social and Emotional Outcomes Cross State Learning Collaborative came together to produce a fillable document that provides a way to communicate information from a current holder of a position to the incoming person taking over that position to support continuity. The form provides a way to document the who, what, when, where and why of a position. This can be used when a staff person is transitioning or for all staff to complete to document their positions at all times. It includes both the technical and adaptive parts of a job.
  • Effective Practices for Coaches
    This module is the first in a series on coaching, a form of professional development for teachers who work in the kindergarten-12th grade setting. Module 1 addresses the four practices coaches can use to improve teaching and student learning. These practices include observation, modeling, providing performance feedback, and using alliance-building strategies.
  • Measuring the Fidelity of Coaching
    This module is the second in a series on coaching, a form of professional development for teachers who work in the kindergarten-12th grade setting. Module 2 addresses how to measure the fidelity of coaching practice to increase the impact it has on teaching and learning.

Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center)

  • Introduction to Intensive Intervention (Self-Paced Module)
    Great teachers do more than promote the student's academic learning–they teach the whole child. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is critical to the introduction of college and career readiness standards, which increase the demands on students' ability to engage in deeper learning and shift the focus and rigor of instruction.
  • Equitable Access Supports
    Every student deserves teachers and principals who can help them achieve their potential. Yet research consistently shows that many students do not have consistent access to excellent educators. In comparison with other students, students from low-income families or rural backgrounds, students of color, students with special needs, and English language learners have less access to excellent educators, which hinders their ability to succeed in school and beyond.  To support states as they develop high-quality state plans, and to support them as they implement these plans, the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) has created the Implementation Playbook and the Equitable Access Toolkit. 
  • Improving Teacher Recruitment and Retention: Featuring the 2019 State Teachers of the Year
    This video features several state teachers of the year sharing their perspective on how to improve teacher recruitment and retention. 

Project STAIR: Supporting Teaching of Algebra

  • Tailored videos on mathematics strategies for struggling learners
    The long-term goal of this model demonstration project is to contribute empirical evidence on the effectiveness of a system of instructional practices for supporting the algebra readiness of middle-school students with specific learning disabilities in mathematics. In this system, three theoretical and practical frameworks intersect, including (1) the process of data-based individualization (DBI), (2) the principles of explicit and systematic instruction, and (3) key components of algebra readiness. Following ‘Core’ Professional Development (PD) for all teachers, ‘Tailored’ PD in the form of supporting demonstration videos is utilized with teachers through coaching.

IRIS Center

  • Teacher Retention: Reducing the Attrition of Special Educators
    A revision of Addressing the Revolving Door: How to Retain Your Special Education Teachers, this module highlights the key elements for school administrators who seek to support special educators and increase teacher retention (est. completion time: 1 hour).


  • Innovation Configurations
    Recognizing that evidence-based practices (EBPs) account for at least part of the effects of teachers on achievement and the critical role of teacher preparation, the CEEDAR Center professionals, along with their partner Great Teachers and Leaders, offer innovation configurations (ICs) to promote the implementation of evidence-based instructional practices in teacher preparation activities. ICs are designed to evaluate current teacher preparation and professional development (PD) by determining the extent to which EBPs are taught, observed, and applied within teacher preparation and PD programs. 
  • Responding to the Need for New Local Special Education Administrators: A Case Study
    This paper provides an example of how one state is addressing the challenge of special education administrator turnover. The case study presented here describes the State of Washington’s approach and initial results.

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials

  • New Educator Online Course
    This is a free professional development opportunity to improve the accessibility of instructional materials. When materials are accessible, students who need them can use the same materials as their other classmates. This course includes 5 modules and can be taken at your own pace.

National Center on Intensive Intervention

  • Introduction to Intensive Intervention
    This interactive self-paced module provides the foundational information for users interested in learning more about intensive intervention and DBI. The module defines intensive intervention and DBI, describes how intensive intervention fits within a tiered system such as MTSS, RTI, or PBIS, demonstrates how intensive intervention can provide a systemic process to deliver specialized instruction for students with disabilities, and provides two case examples to allow viewers to apply new knowledge.
  • Features of Explicit Instruction
    This course includes four modules that can support faculty and professional development providers working with pre-service and in-service educators who are learning to implement explicit instruction.  The course provides learners with an opportunity to extend their understanding of explicit instruction through in-depth exposure to the explicit instruction model and supporting practices required for effective implementation.
  • Taxonomy of Intervention Intensity
    Taxonomy of Intervention Intensity is used to systematically select or evaluate an intervention platform used as the validated intervention platform or the foundation of the DBI process. It can also be used to guide the adaptation of intensification of an intervention during the intervention adaptation step of the DBI process. The Taxonomy of Intervention Intensity includes seven dimensions (strength, dosage, alignment, attention to transfer, comprehensiveness, behavioral or academic support, and individualization). A handout with the definitions for academics and behavior as well as recorded webinars with case examples for reading, mathematics, and behavior are available.
  • Voices from the field: How can DBI help special educators improve outcomes for students with disabilities?
    In this video, Amy McKenna, a special educator in Bristol Warren Regional School District shares her experience with data-based individualization (DBI). Amy discusses how she learned about DBI, the impact her use of the DBI process had on students she worked with, and how DBI helped changed her practice as a special educator.
  • Intervention and Assessment Tools Charts
    NCII has developed six tools charts intended to assist educators in becoming informed consumers who can select academic and behavioral assessment tools and interventions that meet standards for technical rigor and address students’ specific needs.
  • Literacy Strategies to Support Intensive Interventions
    These reading lessons are examples of brief instructional routines that may be used to supplement reading interventions, programs, or curricula that are currently in place. These lessons are designed to illustrate concepts and supplement, not supplant, reading instruction and interventions for struggling readers.
  • Mathematics Strategies to Support Intensive Interventions
    NCII developed a series of mathematics lessons, videos, and guidance documents to support special education instructors, mathematics specialists, and others working with students who struggle with mathematics. These lessons and activities are organized around six mathematics skill areas that are aligned to college– and career-ready standards and incorporate several instructional principles that may help intensify and individualize mathematics instruction to assist teachers and interventionists working with students who have difficulty with mathematics.
  • Behavior Strategies to Support Intensifying Interventions
    NCII developed a series of behavioral strategies to support teachers working with students with primary academic deficits and challenging behaviors. Each strategy incorporates key terminology, an overview of the purpose, and all associated materials. The strategies also integrate approaches for intensification for students with more challenging behaviors.

The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems

  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go with Data on Personnel
    This presentation contains information on the benefits of building a comprehensive system of personnel data. It also addresses the functions of a data system with regard to personnel and uses of data to address important questions about personnel.
  • Using Data to Answer Critical Questions about EI/ECSE Personnel
    This presentation uses concrete examples to demonstrate how state and local program administrators can use data to answer questions about EI/ECSE personnel, such as “What are the demographics of our program personnel?” and “What is the annual turnover rate for EI personnel in the state?”.
  • Critical Questions about Personnel
    This handout contains critical questions that state and local leaders should ask early intervention and early childhood special education personnel.
  • State Data Systems and Critical Questions about Personnel
    This presentation provides information on the importance of state data systems in answering critical policy and program questions about the early childhood workforce.
  • The Importance of Personnel Data
    This presentation provides information on why states need to be able to answer critical questions about personnel and introduces the DaSy Data System Framework as a tool for improving state data systems.
  • State of the States: Overview
    A series of state maps show the current status of Part C and Part B 619 in building high quality data systems.  One of the maps shows which states have data systems with personally identifiable data on personnel and another shows which states have linked personnel data to child data.
  • The Early Childhood Workforce Data Landscape
    This presentation provides information about the importance of comprehensive workforce data collection and an overview of the primary sources of data at the state and regional level, including Part C, Section B 619, early childhood and trainer workforce registries, state teacher certification systems, and others.
  • Data Partnerships to Ensure that Professionals Who Work with Children with Special Needs are Represented
    This presentation discusses the importance of including IDEA programs and services in states’ workforce registries and reviews standards and tools that support states’ efforts.

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA)

  • The Practice Improvement Tools
    The Practice Improvement Tools are designed to build state and local capacity to implement evidence-based practices. The tools are resources, based on the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) Recommended Practices, guide practitioners and families in supporting young children who have, or are at-risk for, developmental delays or disabilities across a variety of early childhood settings. They include performance checklists, practice guides, illustrations of the practices, and guidance materials.

The Early Childhood Personnel Center (ECPC)

  • ECPC Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) Framework
    The ECPC collaborated with the Early Childhood Technical Assistant Center (ECTA) to create an Early Childhood Systems Framework for Part C and section B(619) Coordinators to evaluate their current systems, identify potential areas for improvement, and develop more effective and efficient systems that support implementation of evidence-based practices in each of six main areas. The ECPC’s work resides in the Personnel/Workforce (PN) component of this framework, which addresses the necessity of understanding workforce capacity in order to provide timely and consistent services by prepared personnel in early childhood.

Oregon State University’s Adapted Physical Education Program

  • Master's Grant in Adapted Physical Education
    The School of Biological and Population Health Sciences has received funds to support full-time and part-time master's degree students in the area of adapted physical education. This grant is consistent with the emphasis on appropriate physical education for students with disabilities as mandated in the IDEA 2004 amendment (PL 108-446). Those who complete the degree will also meet all requirements for the Oregon TSPC Add-on Endorsement in Adapted Physical Education. This grant is available from 2019-2023

Humboldt University’s Adapted Physical Education Master’s Program

  • Adapted Physical Education Handbook
    The handbook helps guide scholars through all program and fieldwork requirements. The Handbook is also shared with all faculty and mentors so that program requirements are clear to all.

Other Resources

  • Personnel Improvement Center
    Federal funding for the National Center to Improve Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Personnel for Children with Disabilities (Personnel Improvement Center) ended on December 31, 2013, but this website will remain online as a resource. Please use the information here to help facilitate your work in personnel recruitment, preparation and retention, as well as to become better informed about careers in special education, related services and early intervention.
  • National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services
    The National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services (NCPSSERS) is a national coalition comprised of 30+ participating member organizations, dedicated to addressing the issue of shortages in special education and related services personnel in schools.
  • Hope Street Group
    Hope Street Group understands that meaningful teacher engagement is essential for successful changes in education policy and practice. Our Teacher Fellows Network provides states and districts with the tools, data and infrastructure to foster teacher communities, formulate innovative ideas and directly solve education challenges.
  • New Teacher Center
    New Teacher Center builds capacity among districts and district partners to drive student learning, educator effectiveness, and teacher and leadership development. We do this by providing PreK-12 teachers and school leaders with evidence-based skills and supports needed to create optimal learning environments that will help end educational inequity. As your partner, we can help you identify the solutions to meet your needs.
  • National School Boards Association
    Working with and through our state associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. We believe education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential.
  • AASA The School Superintendents Association
    Excellence in Leadership in our nation’s public schools has never been more vital to our children's success than it is today. The AASA Leadership services department is THE place for aspiring, early career and veteran superintendent to develop the dispositions, skills, knowledge and professional networks they need to become the excellent leaders our children and our nation, deserves.
  • Solving the Teacher Shortage How to Attract and Retain Excellent Educators
    This brief reports on a research review that finds that the most effective policies for attracting and retaining strong educators include increasing their compensation and improving their preparation, professional support, and working conditions, as well as improving district and school management practices that otherwise create obstacles to recruitment and retention. We describe research-based strategies at the district, state, and federal levels that can be used to enable schools to strengthen teacher quality.
  • Diversifying the Teaching Profession: How to Recruit and Retain Teachers of Color
    This report finds that while the population of teachers of color overall is growing, Black and Native American teachers are a declining share of the teacher workforce and the gap between the percentage of Latinx teachers and students is larger than for any other racial or ethnic group. The report also examines how the lack of diversity in the teaching workforce impacts students, and offers district and state policy solutions.
  • Pilot Program to Support First-Year Special Education Teachers
    The program is the result of a partnership between the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), a non-profit professional association dedicated to improving outcomes for students with disabilities.
  • Challenges of Successful Recruitment and Retention of School-Based SLPs
    ASHA's 2016 Schools Survey identified important considerations for SLPs seeking employment, including large amount of paperwork, high workload/caseload size, limited time for collaboration, working conditions, low salary and professional environment. Each presents its own barriers related to recruitment and retention of qualified SLPs in school settings.

Symposium Postwork

Special Needs

Mobile Website

Lodging, Dining, Activities

Call for Proposals

Speaker Bios

Laurie Vanderploeg headshot

Laurie VanderPloeg is the Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), at the U.S. Department of Education. VanderPloeg ensures the effective implementation of OSEP's legislative mission, advises the Assistant Secretary on federal education policy related to individuals with disabilities, and provides leadership in addressing issues of American education for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities through OSEP activities and within the context of the policies of OSERS, the Department, and Congress.

Prior to joining the Department, VanderPloeg served as Director of Special Education at Kent Intermediate School District (Kent ISD) in Michigan. Also at Kent ISD, she served as assistant director for monitoring, compliance and parent support. Prior to Kent ISD, she served as a local supervisor of special education, and a special education teacher in the Grand Rapids Public Schools. VanderPloeg also served as an adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University in the special education administration program. She is a parent of an adult with disabilities.

VanderPloeg graduated from Grand Valley State University with a master’s degree in special education administration and a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State College. She holds administrative approvals as both supervisor and Director of Special Education and certification in learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, emotional impairment, and K–8 regular education.

Liz Bettini headshot

Elizabeth Bettini, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Boston University's Wheelock College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). Dr. Bettini's research is motivated by the belief that educational systems have a responsibility to provide teachers with supportive working conditions that facilitate their commitment to the profession and effectiveness in serving students. She focuses on special education teachers' working conditions, especially beginning special educators and those serving students with emotional/behavioral disabilities. Her work has been funded by the Institute of Education Sciences and the Spencer Foundation, among others, and has been published in 27 peer reviewed journal articles and 8 book chapters.

Allan Phillips headshot

Allan Phillips has been involved in the disability field both personally and professionally for 40 years. For 30 years he has served as the Director of Fairfax County Early Intervention Program, a large local government program in Virginia. He currently is the State Part C coordinator for the District of Columbia. He also is a board member of the Infant and Toddler Coordinator Association which is the national association for State Part C programs.

Margo Candelaria headshot

Margo Candelaria, Ph.D., is the Co-Director of the Parent, Infant, Early Childhood team at the Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She has extensive clinical and research expertise and training in infant-early childhood mental health (IECMH) screening, diagnosis, assessment, and evidence-based practices (EBPs), and parent-child interactions across multiple community systems. She has worked with young children and families in medical systems, community mental health agencies, early intervention agencies, and Head Start/Early Head Start (as a consultant).  Dr. Candelaria also has a history of working in the NICU and Growth and Nutrition Clinic with medically fragile and substance exposed infants, and is the current psychologist in the NICU Follow-Program.  She participated in the development of the SMART Clinic in Carroll County Maryland focusing on building a developmental clinic to serve children with behavioral and developmental needs and their families, including creating a network of providers to server families and tracking referral and assessment processes and outcomes. She currently serves as the evaluation PI for several Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health focused projects – including two early childhood SOC grants; two federally funded projects focusing pregnant and parenting youth; an MD AAP pediatric provider training initiative; and two MD grants for statewide National Pyramid Model (NPM) implementation including two statewide data management systems focused on evaluation/CQI outcomes for early childhood mental health consultation and NPM implementation. Across all these projects, she has focused on program evaluation and implementation science aimed to improve programs for families with young children by using data and engaging in a continuous quality improvement processes, with an emphasis on workforce development.

Michael Kennedy Headshot

Michael J. Kennedy, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Special Education in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.  Before completing his Ph.D. at the University of Kansas, he was a high school special education teacher for six years.  Kennedy's main area of research is the design, implementation, and experimental testing of multimedia-based interventions to support pre- and in-service teachers' knowledge and implementation of evidence-based and high-leverage practices.  He also creates instructional vignettes to support literacy-related outcomes for students with high incidence disabilities and implementation of high-leverage practices.  Please visit, and to find free resources for teaching and learning.  Kennedy has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles, and received two doctoral training grants from the Office of Special Education Programs, and an early career research and mentoring grant from the Institute for Education Sciences in 2013.  He is Co-Editor of The Journal of Special Education Technology.  

Rebecca Zumeta Edmonds headshot

Rebecca Zumeta Edmonds, Ph.D., is a principal researcher at the AIR, where she serves as the Co-Director of NCII, and as Project Director for an Investing in Innovation and Improvement (i3) Development Grant. She previously coordinated services for the Response to Intervention Center at AIR and led the Knowledge Utilization service area of the National Center on Systemic Improvement (NCSI). Prior to AIR, Dr. Zumeta Edmonds worked for the Washington State Department of Special Education providing technical assistance to support RTI and alternate assessment implementation. She also worked on randomized controlled trials of elementary mathematics interventions at Vanderbilt University, and has extensive experience presenting to researcher, policymaker, and practitioner audiences. She has co-authored several papers, chapters, and essays on RTI, mathematics intervention, special education policy, implementation, and progress monitoring assessment. In addition, she taught special education in public and private lab schools in the Seattle area. She earned a Ph.D. in Special Education with a concentration in quantitative research methods from Vanderbilt University, an M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of Washington, and a B.A. in Psychology and Politics from Whitman College.

Terry Scott Headshot

Terrance M. Scott, Ph.D., is a Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville and is Director of the Center for Instructional and Behavioral Research in Schools (CIBRS). His research interests focus on school-wide prevention systems, the role of instructional variables in managing student behavior, functional behavior assessment/intervention, and scientific research in education. A former teacher of students with emotional and behavioral disorders, Dr. Scott received his Ph.D. in Special Education at the University of Oregon in 1994. He has successfully competed for more than $22 million in grant funding, has more than 120 publications - including four books, and has conducted over 1000 presentations and training activities throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Daniel Sherlock Headshot

Daniel Sherlock, is a special education teacher with District of Columbia Public Schools. He works also as a research assistant at the University of Maryland, College Park in the Cognition and Development and the Bilingual and Biliteracy research labs. He has worked for the past 15 years with individuals with disabilities in a variety of educational, clinical, and recreational settings. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology from George Mason University and a master’s degree in special education from Vanderbilt University.