Christina A. Samuels and Alex Harwin at Education Week:
For more than four decades, the U.S. Department of Education has asked states to submit information on special education teacher employment, along with a raft of other information that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires to be collected.
But the employment numbers that are submitted to the federal government are sometimes wrong—wildly so. In some cases, state data managers say the mistake is theirs. In other cases, state officials say they aren't sure where the federal government got the numbers, even though states are the ones responsible for submitting them.
Mississippi is another one of several states with implausible personnel numbers. Federal records show the special education teacher count at 3,770 for the 2005-06 school year. The number of teachers reported in federal records drops to 910 in the 2010-11 school year. It jumps again to 4,145 teachers in 2011-12. For 2015-16, the number of special education teachers reported in the state is 5,086.
Patrice Guilfoyle, the director of communications for the Mississippi education department, said that the state's records show that it has had around 4,000 to 5,000 special education teachers over the past decade. She could not explain the federal numbers.