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Special Education
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“Students need to learn that being classified with a disability does not classify who they are as individuals or how they should be treated in school or society.  Students should be empowered and taught how to work through their disability so they can achieve high levels of academic and behavioral successes.” – Ashley Hodge, 2006 Teaching Fellow


Approximately 16% of New York City’s students received special education services during the 2011 – 2012 school year.


The Special Education Achievement Gap

The special education achievement gap is one of the greatest social issues of our time. While New York City has made dramatic progress in raising graduation rates in the city to an all-time high, special education students continue to be left behind.  Only 31 percent of students with disabilities in the class of 2012 earned a high school diploma within 4 years, compared to 71 percent of general education students.


Students receiving special education services have the potential to succeed at a far greater rate. They need supportive and committed educators who believe in them and who will set high expectations for their academic success.


The New York City Department of Education is dedicated to transforming special education services in order to close the achievement gap between students with disabilities and their peers. The New York City Department of Education launched a landmark special education reform initiative in 2012, and the fruits of that effort are already being seen across city classrooms. Special education students now enjoy increased access to and participation in the general curriculum through integrated classrooms, putting them on a path to college and career readiness.


NYC has a critical need for committed teachers who will advocate for their students and ensure they get the excellent education they need and deserve.


Who We Want

Excellent special education teachers can change the life trajectories of their students by providing the support, motivation, and targeted instruction they need to make college and successful careers a reality. Excellent special education teachers…

  • Love working with other professionals. Special educators are constantly collaborating with co-teachers, guardians, and paraprofessionals, so they must be able to motivate and work alongside others to achieve results.
  • Are willing to fight for the needs of their kids. They know that extra resources will make the difference for their students, and they don’t rest until they’re positive that each and every student has the materials and supports they need to be successful.
  • Love data. They track their students’ progress and use the results to inform their next steps.
  • Are problem solvers. They are relentless in their efforts to find a way to reach every kid, to teach every skill that will help their students.
  • Aren’t afraid to set a high bar for their students. They know that if they differentiate their teaching in order to reach every student, their students will succeed.
  • Understand the importance of literacy. They make reading and writing complex texts  an integral part of their lessons so that students have the skills to pursue their dreams in college or careers.

Teaching Special Education in NYC


Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities

Most special education Fellows teach students with mild to moderate disabilities, in classrooms that are integrated in schools serving the general student population.  They may co-teach classes with a mix of general education students and students with special needs, or they may teach small classes of students with special needs.


In co-teaching environments, the special educator in the classroom combines their expertise in explaining complex topics with the content knowledge of their co-teacher. This ensures that lessons are  clear and relatable for every single student.  In small classes comprised only of students with  special needs, the special educator differentiates instruction to meet the needs of each student, adapting pacing and instructional strategies to ensure that every student is engaged, learning  the same content, and able to achieve mastery.


District 75

New York City meets the needs of students with moderate to severe disabilities by providing educational, vocational, and behavioral support programs for students who are on the autism spectrum, emotionally challenged, multiply disabled, speech and language impaired, intellectually disabled, and learning disabled. A small group of Fellows elects to work in this specialized school district, called District 75. The district provides services to students in a variety of supported environments that include multi-sited special education schools, home and hospital instruction, institutional facilities and inclusive settings in community schools and community-based vocational training sites. Schools are located throughout the five boroughs.


District 75 Fellows participate in a specialized summer training program as well as supplemental workshops and development opportunities, and participate in a master’s degree program to ensure that they are fully prepared to meet their students’ needs. For additional information regarding working within District 75 schools, please visit the NYCDOE's District 75 web portal.


Excellent Training for Special Education Teachers

Training for special education teachers is tailored to the needs of the students they will teach, so that every special educator enters the classroom with the skills, strategies, and knowledge they need to be successful with the unique group of students they serve.


Fellows who will teach students with mild to moderate disabilities spend the summer training in schools where they might teach in the fall. Their university coursework provides best practices for working with students with mild to moderate disabilities, and they complete a 10-hour online Special Education Course that gives them a solid understanding of the diversity of special needs populations and the services available to support them.   


Fellows who will teach students with moderate to severe disabilities in District 75 train in District 75 schools, participate in specialized workshops, and complete university coursework specifically designed to meet the needs of teaching in the District 75 setting.  They enter their schools prepared with a depth of experience with students with moderate to severe disabilities and a wealth of strategies to support them.


Teresa Ann takes us inside her special education classroom.

Jessica discusses her teaching experience.

An approach to procedural text.