Arkansas State Personnel Development Grant

1401 W. Capital Ave.
Suite #450
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (501) 319-7333
Fax: (501) 379-8387

Overview:  The Recruitment and Retention of Highly Qualified Special Education Teachers and Special Education Paraprofessionals



Arkansas has significant present and future challenges in producing an adequate supply of qualified staff to serve students with disabilities. In order to achieve a balance between supply and demand of qualified special education personnel, Goal 4 of the SPDG focuses on the recruitment, retention, and training of highly qualified special education teachers. Emphasis is placed on activities that support aggressive and strategic recruitment, mentoring and staff development to improve special education teacher retention, and training support for full licensure As an outcome of the activities, sufficient numbers of qualified personnel will be available to ensure that all students with disabilities, especially in high poverty schools, are taught by highly qualified teachers utilizing scientifically-based literacy, mathematics, and behavioral instruction and intervention strategies, who will remain in the field beyond their third year of teaching.

Recruitment Information

Teacher retirements and attrition have created a large number of vacancies in special education. The Arkansas Department of Education has identified special education as a critical academic teacher licensure/endorsement shortage area. Recruitment strategies and activities are necessary to build capacity of highly qualified teachers within the state’s school districts and education service cooperatives. SPDG staff is available to provide recruitment services to districts requesting assistance on assessing their local resources to assist in the development of strategic plans for recruiting teachers to their local schools. Additional information/materials available for recruitment are available through these resources.


This website is maintained by the ADE, Office of Teacher Recruitment and Retention. Information is provided on becoming a teacher, employment, teacher licensure, financial aid, Praxis I preparation by ETS, and recruitment events.


Arkansas Partners in Education

The ADE Special Education Unit, in partnership with the National Center for Special Education Personnel and Related Service Providers offers a website to assist in the recruitment of special education personnel. The website provides information on the 2 and 4 year college teacher preparation programs as well as resources for financial aid support, licensure and educational requirements, mentoring, and career opportunities.

This database is a free service to teachers, administrators and other education related personnel who are looking for employment. Local educational agencies who subscribe to the database can post positions and conduct national searches for teachers licensed to teach special education as well as other related service personnel.


Personnel Improvement Center (PIC)

The national center is a cooperative agreement between the United States Department of Education and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. The site is designed to improve recruitment and retention of qualified personnel for children with disabilities. Information on their website is intended to increase the nation’s capacity of special education personnel through knowledge development, technical assistance and dissemination, and leadership/coordination. 


Teach Each One

This video, along with training materials and lesson plans, is available to educators who teach Career Orientation courses as well as school counselors. It can be used to attract middle and high school students to teaching careers in special education and related services. Requests for the video can be made by contacting the SPDG office.  



The retention of highly qualified personnel is critical to growth in student achievement. The SPDG recognizes that there is a high rate of attrition for beginning teachers. To retain and enhance the skills of teachers who are in their first year of teaching special education there must be high quality professional development, induction and mentoring programs. Teachers who have less than one year of teaching experience are considered novice teachers and participate in the Pathwise Mentoring Program.

Information about the Induction/Mentoring program can be found in the licensure section on the ADE website.


Training Support/Stipend Information

The SPDG provides financial support for individuals interested in pursuing special education licensure. Reimbursement/stipend programs to help defray tuition costs are offered as incentives to increase the number of special education teachers working in Arkansas’ public schools. Opportunities are available for paraprofessionals and teachers who are interested or are currently working in special education. Individuals may apply for a limited number of stipends each year.



A one-time non-renewable stipend of up to $1,000 will be awarded to 20 prospective paraprofessionals each year who(will) work in an Arkansas school district; with the highest number of special education teacher vacancies; the fewest number of fully licensed special education teachers; identified by Title II with hiring inequities; and/or high attrition rates of licensed special education teachers. The stipend will help defray tuition and incidental costs for obtaining the state-required coursework or experience needed to become fully qualified.

Priority will be given to paraprofessionals who:

  • Are currently employed by school districts/cooperatives
  • Are currently enrolled in education related courses
  • Agree to work in an Arkansas public education agency, in special education, at the completion of this signed program for a period of time not less than the same length of time stipends were provided
  • Are listed on the ADE Paraprofessional Registry as having completed the CORE Training Requirements ( Foundations of Special Education, Behavior, and Special Health Care Needs)

Paraprofessionals interested in pursuing the stipend program will be required to submit a completed application, a letter of recommendation from their principal, and a letter from the special education supervisor. Upon selection for the stipend, paraprofessionals will be responsible for completing all necessary enrollment procedures through an accredited college or university. Paraprofessionals must satisfactorily complete each course and follow procedures for submitting documentation necessary for the reimbursement.



Teachers who are willing to pursue, or who are in the process of adding, special education licensure endorsement may apply for the SPDG teacher reimbursement program. A maximum of $3,500 will be awarded to 20 teachers each year. Interested applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a resident of Arkansas
  • Be currently employed in a school district with a high proportion of less than fully licensed special education teachers
  • Be enrolled in an Arkansas regionally accredited public or private college or university with an approved special education program taking a minimum of three required course hours per term or semester
  • Agree to obtain their special education licensure within three years
  • Agree to teach special education for at least two years after receiving special education licensure in an Arkansas public school needing fully licensed special education teachers

Announcement of the program and deadline for applying is made yearly through a Commissioner’s Memo. Teachers interested in applying for the tuition reimbursement program must complete the application in full and receive notification of approval prior to submitting documentation needed for the reimbursement payment.

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