Department of Education Funds PULSE Program to Train California Teachers in Special Education

Phase Two Targets Training of Personnel to Teach Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities.

Claremont, CA, September 13, 2008 --( Claremont Graduate University received a new four-year $800,000 grant from the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs to support CGU’s recently-accredited CCTC special education internship program to prepare teachers for students with moderate/severe disabilities.

The PULSE Pipeline Project: Phase Two (Preparing Urban Leaders in Special Education) is led by Project Director Susan M. Robb, professor of education in the School of Educational Studies, who guided the initial PULSE Phase One 2004-2008. Phase One, which concludes its funding in September, targeted “Teachers of High Incidence Disabilities,” supporting over 90 intern teachers toward full Mild/Moderate Special Education credentials over the last four years.

PULSE: Two will place project participants as moderate/severe intern teachers in schools in the culturally and linguistically diverse Los Angeles basin and the Inland Empire (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties). This project specifically recruits and supports individuals from this dense urban area, CGU’s prime service region. Project elements include concentrated recruitment efforts for those from historically under-represented groups to help improve the delivery of special education services to students with moderate to severe disabilities. According to state data, the enrollment of these students has increased by 22% in California over the last five years.

How the program works: Project participants will be college graduates who take coursework leading to the California State Credential for Education Specialist-Level I and Level II: Moderate/Severe, an English Learner California Authorization, and a Master’s in Education. After initial pre-service fieldwork and course instruction, participants teach with an intern credential with intense field support (meeting highly-qualified requirements), before becoming fully employed in special education in predominately diverse, urban elementary and secondary schools.

CGU monitors and advises subject matter compliance for each candidate and each teaching position. Partnerships with the administrators and special educators in 10 districts have been developed to guarantee appropriate teaching placements, ensuring maximally supportive placements and opportunities for applied research and continued learning.

Background on the Project
In 2006-2007, the Department of Education data indicated that more than 679,600 students with disabilities lived and learned in California with an estimated 110,314 students with moderate or severe disabilities needing to be aligned with the new teaching standards required by No Child Left Behind. Since 2002, there has been a minimal increase (.06%) in total number of K-12 special education students in California. However, during that same time, students with moderate or severe disabilities (autism, emotional or behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities) increased from 90,512 students to 110,314 students, a 22% increase.

In addition, The Center for Teaching and Learning, a nation education research group, reports that high-minority schools have an average of 18% under-prepared special education teachers when compared to 7% in low minority schools. California ranks highest in state population diversity and is three times more diverse than the national average.

What makes PULSE: Two so important is that the need for fully-qualified special education teachers in the LA Basin and the adjacent Inland Empire is even more acute than it is either nationally or across other regions of CA. Twenty-five percent of the state’s special education students learn in one of the 64 school districts where CGU has intern partnerships. Eleven of the districts in this region are among the 40 largest school districts in the state (CDE, 2007). The CGU campus is located strategically in this region, “straddling” both the LA Basin and the Inland Empire. It is estimated that conservative estimate of the number of teachers needed annually for M/S placements in the CGU area would be 23% of county need totals or 322 teachers in the three county CGU service region.

PULSE: Two targets the following objectives
• Recruit quality personnel from under-represented groups to serve the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of students with moderate/severe disabilities;
• Prepare 66 high-quality special education teachers using a standards-based curricula and evidence-based pedagogy inclusively with general education candidates;
• Instill participants with core competencies in special education that merge principles of social justice and accountability, ensuring subject matter concentrations necessary for compliance with NCLB and IDEA ’04 and the preparation of high-quality teachers;
• Integrate effective coursework for K-12 students who have unique culture, linguistic, and diverse exceptionalities (CLDE skill competencies) so interns earn an EL Authorization and can accommodate culturally diverse students with moderate/severe disabilities in inclusive settings;
• Provide optimum support for beginning special educators through a proven, highly effective internship model designed after original PULSE One Project; and
• Create an institutionalized pipeline of moderate/severe special education leadership personnel for the CGU special education doctoral program.

Project outcomes will include
• 66 project graduates who have completed their Level I Credential, EL Authorization, and Master’s degree requirements complying with NCLB and IDEA requirements and competencies;
• 45 of the 66 project graduates will also complete the additional Level II credential requirements during the project;
• recruitment of select participants to pursue a PhD in special education at CGU, building a perpetual pipeline ladder for leadership in the area of moderate/severe disabilities
• budget designation of over 65% annually for student support; and
• the institutionalization of the Moderate/Severe Education Specialist Internship Program, a structure to credential 15 candidates annually, targeting some 50% whom are from under-represented groups.

Claremont Graduate University
Nikolaos Johnson