Special Education

Ed. Dept. Awards Grants to Improve Spec. Ed. Training

By Christina A. Samuels — August 04, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education has given grants to 20 universities to revamp their special education teacher-preparation programs, a step the department says is key to increasing the numbers of highly qualified teachers in that field.

The grants, announced last month, are the first of what will be five-year projects at the chosen universities. The teacher-training programs should be making changes as soon as this fall for teacher candidates, say representatives of the universities involved.

“We consistently hear from state, local, and higher education officials that personnel preparation programs for special education teachers should be restructured or redesigned for graduates of those programs to meet the highly qualified teacher requirements in the [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act],” Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said in a statement.

The “highly qualified” standards, as outlined in the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, require that special education teachers, in addition to having knowledge about creating lessons for children with special needs, must also in some cases have academic-subject knowledge. The standard has been a difficult one for some teachers to meet, because many teacher-training programs for special educators focus primarily on teaching methods.

The Education Department said the universities are to upgrade their programs with “research-proven strategies” that will help teachers work with students who have “high-incidence disabilities,” such as mental retardation, emotional disturbance, and learning disabilities.

Colleen Thoma, an associate professor of education at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said her university will be using its initial grant of about $110,000 to make sure teacher candidates have a fundamental knowledge of evidence-based practices, among other projects.

“We’re hoping to offer these classes, not just to pre-service teachers, but to teachers who are already in the field,” Ms. Thoma said.

Another university plans to use the government funds, in part, to instruct teachers-in-training in such topics as differentiated instruction, said Karen Smith, an associate professor in the school of education at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa. Her university received an initial grant of about $139,000.

Texas colleges and universities do not offer education majors, though they may have schools of education that offer methodology courses and certification, Ms. Smith said. College students pick a subject-area speciality, but their direct experience with methods for instructing students with disabilities was very limited, she said.

“We need to be developing teachers who can teach to all kids,” Ms. Smith said.

A version of this article appeared in the August 13, 2008 edition of Education Week as Ed. Dept. Awards Grants to Improve Spec. Ed. Training


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Three Reasons Why Being a Special Education Teacher Is Even Harder During the Pandemic
Special education teachers were often left to navigate the pandemic on their own, a new survey shows.
6 min read
Paraprofessional Jessica Wein helps Josh Nazzaro answer questions from his teacher while attending class virtually from his home in Wharton, N.J.
Paraprofessional Jessica Wein helps Josh Nazzaro answer questions from his teacher while attending class virtually from his home in Wharton, N.J.
Seth Wenig/AP
Special Education Opinion Inclusive Teachers Must Be 'Asset-Based Believers'
Four veteran educators share tips on supporting students with learning differences as they return to classrooms during this pandemic year.
16 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Special Education Opinion 20 Ways to Support Students With Learning Differences This Year
Embed student voices and perspectives into the classroom is one piece of advice educators offer in this third pandemic-affected school year.
16 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Special Education Schools Must Identify Students With Disabilities Despite Pandemic Hurdles, Ed. Dept. Says
Guidance stresses schools' responsibilities to those with disabilities, while noting that federal COVID aid can be used to address backlogs.
2 min read
School children in classroom with teacher, wearing face masks and raised hands
DigitalVision/Vectors/Getty