THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

California Institute of Technology

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I know that this idea has been floated out there before, but I really believe that it needs to be looked more closely. I strongly believe that it would increase aschool’s ability to provide Special Education services to our students and reduce the high levels of stress that is in the Special Education field.

In my opinion in Special Education, there should be two distinct career paths:

  • Special Education Case Manager
  • Special Education Teacher

Special Education is simply too broad and has too many responsibilities for an individual to become an expert in both of these important parts of the profession.

Now at best you can become good at one or the other and adequate in the other area, but to say that the average Special Education teacher can become expert in either one would be an unrealistic expectation.  The reality today is that we are expected to an expert in both areas by parents, administrators and other teachers.  These unrealistic expectations are directly related to the high flame-out (not just burn-out) rate that is experienced by Special Educators.

I know that everyone will say it can’t be done in the current fiscal situation, but I think it is something that should be looked at much more closely and I think that it could be done in many, if not most school districts.

The Special Education Case Manager could focus on the paperwork and legal aspects of our provided Special Education services.  In other words do all the scheduling of meetings, initial referrals, PET meeting work, preparing IEPs and interfacing/advocating when students are having educational or other issues.  This split would also allow the Case Manager to have a larger caseload than the joint position currently does.  Much as case managers do for other agencies.

The Special Education Teacher would implement the IEP and supports in the classroom.  The teacher could develop their teaching, actually read the IEPs for all their students, actually differentiate in the classroom, use more of a Universal Design approach than many currently use, learning the differences between different disabilities and being able to learn appropriate intervention techniques to assist their students more professionally.

Also, this split would allow Special Education Teachers to learn to perform their “forgotten” job of test administrator at a higher level of competency.  How many Special Educators do “testing” without proper training to do so?  Too many.

This split would allow a much greater focus and the ability for the Special Educator to actually have to opportunity to attain a level of expertise in the area they have chosen that is not available today.

It would also allow some who are better teacher’s get away from the heavy paperwork load and those that have found they are better with the paperwork (or aren’t any good with kids) to get away from the classroom. We have teachers in either category those that love to teach but hate the paperwork and those that don’t mind the paperwork and all it entails, but hate the classroom (those ones usually move into a Case Manager position at some agency or for the State’s Human Services Office).

Personally, even though I am pretty good at the paperwork, I love being in the classroom.  If I could focus my attention to just this part of the job, I could provide a much higher quality level of instruction to my students and give more professionalconsultation to regular education teachers who need assistance in teaching our students.
So from my rather simplistic view it would be a win-win situation for those in Special Education (everybody).

Realistically there are probably issues that would have to be addressed such as:  Union contracts, certification questions, looking at the case managers as “them” and many others that I haven’t thought of.

If we are looking at re-inventing or re-looking at things that improve teaching our students, this would improve Special Education programs in my opinion.

Has anyone had any experience with this sort of split and how it worked?  If you have could you comment on how it worked for you.


  1. I have been playing around with this idea for the past two years and it's at a point where I have at least one school administrator interested and wanting a proposal written up. I have heared that New Jersey public schools have a similar set-up, but finding literature on it is proving difficult. My difficulty is finding special educators in my building that would rather do case management than teach. Go figure! It's no wonder why special education has a higher attrition rate than regular education…the paperwork gets in the way of working with the students.


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