What makes special-education teachers special? Teacher training and achievement of students with disabilities
Using statewide data from Florida, we analyze the impact of both pre-service and in-service training on the ability of teachers to promote academic achievement among students with disabilities. We find students with disabilities whose teacher is certified in special education have greater achievement in both math and reading than similar students whose teacher is not special-education certified. However, students without disabilities experience slightly lower achievement when taught by a special-education certified teacher. In-service professional development has no effect on the value-added of teachers in special education courses, but non-disabled students whose regular education teachers received special education training exhibit modestly higher achievement. Similarly, the gain in effectiveness associated with teacher experience is greater for teachers of regular education courses than for teachers of special education courses. Teachers with advanced degrees are more effective in boosting the math achievement of students with disabilities than are those with only a baccalaureate degree.
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