Special Education by the Numbers: A Look into Today's Schools

As part of a statewide reform initiative, the California Department of Education made a significant change to its teacher education curriculum in the fall of 2017 by including special education in general education teacher preparation programs.

Before this change, the special education and general education programs were separate. This change echoes the inclusion happening in today’s classrooms — more than 60 percent of special education students spend the majority of their time in general education classrooms, a 90 percent increase since 1989.

“In the past, students with special needs were often sequestered in separate classrooms,” said Professor Corinne Hyde, who teaches in USC Rossier’s online MAT program. To her, this teacher preparation curriculum shift only enforces the notion that “teachers must be prepared to celebrate, challenge and support students with varying needs in an inclusive classroom.”

For the 6.6 million special education students in today’s public schools, it’s important to learn more about them. The infographic below shows the special education students behind the numbers: who they are, where they’re learning, and how educators can best support them in and outside of the classroom.

View the text-only version of this graphic.

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Citation for this content: USC Rossier’s Master of Arts in teaching online.