Alternative Route Programs and Special Education Teacher Preparation



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In the United States, there exists a chronic shortage of qualified special education teachers to provide instructional services to students with disabilities. One policy solution developed to increase the number of qualified teachers is Alternative Routes (ARs), which are broadly defined as nontraditional and accelerated preparation paths to obtain a teaching license. In this exploratory sequential mixed methods dissertation, I investigate (a) empirical research conducted from 2005-2021 on alternative route programs within special education teacher preparation; (b) the role of linguistic diversity in alternative route programs by examining the experiences of multilingual paraprofessionals advancing their careers to become special education teachers; and (c) the national trends associated with the evolution of alternative route programs and the characteristics of state alternative pathways that are inclusive of special education teacher preparation. Findings reveal that alternative route programs preparing special education teachers are on the rise within the United States, but they vary on their preparation requirements. Implications for future research and policy recommendations needed within the recruitment and preparation of special education teachers will be discussed.



Alternative route, Education policy, Exploratory mixed methods, Special education teacher preparation, Teacher recruitment, Teacher shortage