New Grants Focus on Preparing Special Education Personnel
By Matthew Gianino, Institute On Disability / UCED
July 25, 2007
With the startling increase during the past 20 years in diagnoses of children
with autism, developmental issues, and other disabilities which affect
the ability to learn, significant attention has been given to the overall
lack of properly qualified special education teachers.
In New Hampshire, special educators are in short supply, especially those
with expertise in the areas of early childhood special education (ESCE),
augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), and the education of
children with low-incidence developmental disabilities.
The Institute on Disability at UNH, in collaboration with the departments
of education and communication sciences and disorders, hopes to address
this critical shortage through three new graduate-level certification programs
supported by three U.S. Department of Education grants totaling $2.4 million.
These funds, to be received over four years, will aid in master’s
level training for 120 teachers. More than 60 percent of all funding will
be used to support graduate students’ tuition and fees associated
with completing the programs.
The Preparing Excellent Teachers for All Young Children grant, a community-University
partnership, will prepare 40 New Hampshire-certified ESCE teachers and
develop a teacher education program that could be applied nationally. Participants
in this two-year master’s of education degree program will gain the
knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to serve the needs of young
children with disabilities and their families.
Participants will benefit from seminars via distance technology, a full-year
internship experience, and a mentoring network for support in the program
and after graduation. This grant is a partnership between the Institute
on Disability and UNH department of education.
For many students with significant disabilities, the use of augmentative
and alternative communication (AAC) techniques, including the use of assistive
technology, is a part of daily social interaction and learning. Yet there
are few university degree programs in New England that prepare teachers
and therapists to teach the general education curriculum to students who
use AAC. The Preparation of Speech Language Pathology Personnel in AAC
grant will support more than 40 master’s level graduate students
in speech language pathology, specializing in AAC assessment and intervention,
to apply AAC techniques to promote the learning of core academic content
by students with disabilities. Participants will benefit from full-time
coursework at UNH, advanced content modules available via distance education
at several other New England universities, and hands-on classroom experiences
which promote increased membership, participation, and learning within
the general education classroom by students with disabilities.
The Beyond Access for Teacher Education grant will support the preparation
and certification of 40 teachers who will collaborate with families, general
educators, related service providers, and other school personnel to assure
that students ages 6-21 with low-incidence developmental disabilities learn
core academic content from the general education curriculum and achieve
their Individualized Educational Program (IEP) goals. Innovative coursework
will focus on developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, augmentative
communication, literacy, and positive behavior supports, as well as effective
collaborative teaming and facilitation skills.
For more information about the Institute on Disability and its programs,
visit www.iod.unh.edu or call 2-4320.