General educators' perceptions of preparedness to teach students with special needs

To determine whether general educators perceived that they are prepared to teach students with special needs in their classroom, the author designed a survey which was administered to general educators in various elementary schools in a unified school district. One hundred and twenty-two individuals participated in the study. Current educational research and subsequent practice support including students with special needs in the general education setting; therefore, ensuring educators are prepared to teach students with diverse learning needs is vital to student achievement. The findings of the study clearly revealed that general educators perceive that they are unprepared and further, lack the pedagogical knowledge to teach students with special needs in their classrooms. The results suggest a need for teachers to attend professional development courses in order to receive specific training and experience educating students with special learning needs. As well, pre-service training that is offered at the university level needs to be developed and expanded, so that education programs embed special education pedagogy and concept development within teacher credential programs. By law, students with special needs are entitled to receive an equal education alongside their non-disabled peers, taught by educated professionals who understand and implement positive techniques in order to address their diverse learning needs. KEY WORDS: general educator preparation, students with special needs