$1 million grant will help support special education teachers across Virginia

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This article was published on WFXR by Kim Yonick on August 17, 2021.

(WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has received a $1 million grant to help reduce turnover and promote retention of special education teachers.

The funding will give VDOE the ability to build upon efforts supporting the recruitment, development, and retention of special educators.

“Special education has been the commonwealth’s most pressing critical shortage area for 15 consecutive years,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said in a statement on Tuesday, Aug. 17. “Reducing turnover and retaining special educators is even more critical now as all of the commonwealth’s schools prepare to reopen for in-person instruction and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, especially on students with disabilities and other vulnerable learners.”

The money will support efforts in two to three school divisions that are dealing with special educator shortages due to high turnover rates. The grant will focus on creating evidence-based classroom systems, defusing disruptive behavior, and data-informed decision-making practices over the course of the next five years.

“Special education is one of the most rewarding teaching fields but it also can be one of the most challenging,” Lane said. “Our efforts to reduce turnover among special educators are grounded in the research that shows that when teachers are prepared to successfully manage the challenges, they are more likely to stay in the classroom.”

VDOE will announce which school divisions will be participating later this year.