Special Education

AACTE’s Commitment in Partnership With the CEEDAR Center

AACTE’s equity priorities include a commitment to serving students with disabilities through the preparation of special and inclusive educators. A partnership with the CEEDAR Center supports the infusion of disability-related programming and messaging into AACTE’s work. The Association focuses attention on these issues through the AACTE Annual Meeting and other convenings as well as the Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series, topical action groups, principal preparation initiatives, the Clinical Practice Commission, networked improvement communities, the Holmes Program, blogs, webinars, and more.

Six Guiding Considerations for AACTE's Work in Special and Inclusive Education


Students with disabilities experience marginalization, discrimination, low expectations, and inequity much like other subgroups of students such as English learners and ethnically and racially diverse students.


The intersection of disability status and race is complex and can compound students’ marginalization. For example, students of color have long been overrepresented in special education. Neither over- nor underidentification leads to students’ educational needs being met. The dialogue around this intersection must be elevated and addressed directly with input from both communities.


Like other marginalized populations of students, students with disabilities experience a disparate proportion of unprepared, underprepared, uncredentialed, undercredentialed, and inexperienced teachers, thus significantly limiting their access to learning.


AACTE members seek to prepare all new educators and school leaders – whether in general education, special education, or a related field – to have the skills and dispositions to work effectively and professionally with all students, including students with disabilities, as well as to work collaboratively with members of companion school-based professions, such as school social workers, counselors, psychologists, therapists, and other vital school support personnel, to meet the needs of all learners.


AACTE is committed to promoting effective practices that will diversify the teaching profession so that educators more closely reflect the diversity of the student population; recruiting and supporting educator candidates with disabilities is an important component of this work.


Educators need to experience each child as a distinct and unique learner so that every child can thrive.

Numerous evidence-based practices are available for teaching students with disabilities. The following resources may be helpful to educator preparation programs:

AACTE Initiatives Supporting Special Educator Preparation and Inclusive Education

The CEEDAR Center, whose mission is to support states and institutions of higher education to ensure that all educators are prepared to work with all students, particularly students with disabilities, provides supports to AACTE for the development of several initiatives aligned with AACTE’s commitment to equity. These include:

In January 2018, AACTE’s Clinical Practice Commission (CPC) issued a report, A Pivot Toward Clinical Practice, Its Lexicon, and the Renewal of Educator Preparation, which outlined the essential features of effective clinical practice, identified a recommended lexicon, and set forth a framework to operationalize effective clinical practice in educator preparation.

The report features 10 Essential Proclamations and Tenets for Highly Effective Clinical Educator Preparation, and is intended to serve as guidance for the development, growth, and renewal of clinical practice in educator preparation programs.

In collaboration with the CEEDAR Center, AACTE engaged higher education and PK-12 leaders in applying the AACTE CPC frameworks for clinical educator preparation to address problems of practice encountered when preparing teacher candidates to meet the needs of students who require specialized supports. AACTE convened a Special Education Task Force to identify critical areas and emergent issues in relation to the preparation of special education teachers, as inclusive practitioners and leaders, through the lens of clinical practice and the 10 AACTE CPC Proclamations.

The task force was composed of experts in the field of special education from across the nation. The report is available to all AACTE members.

AACTE is developing two video series which will highlight programs demonstrating exemplary inclusive clinical practice. These videos will feature interviews with key stakeholders, including higher education faculty and administrators, K-12 partners and principals who hire the program graduates, teacher candidates, and program graduates.

These videos will serve as companions to the current AACTE Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series on Clinical Practice and will build on the work of the CPC and the Special Education Task Force.