Description of the ProjectProject EC-NET: Exceptional Children Need Exceptional Teachers
Recent estimates suggest that there is “considerable need” for teachers in the areas of mild/moderate disabilities, learning disabilities, and emotional/behavior disabilities in the Great Lakes Region, which includes Ohio. The faculty at the University of Toledo’s Special Education program proposes an improved personnel preparation program, anchored in professional standards to address the regional and state identified needs of highly qualified special education teachers. The purpose of Project EC-NET is to prepare high incidence special education teachers in the Northwest Ohio region by (a) revising and restructuring current K-12 special education teacher preparation program in mild-moderate disabilities, (b) recruiting and training content area specialists to provide professional development and mentoring, and (c) undertaking formative and summative evaluations of the re-designed components with emphasis on student teachers’ performance and pupils learning. Project EC-NET includes four major components.
First, an Advisory Board; consisting of parents of children with disabilities, persons with disabilities, and state and local administrators; will be involved in monitoring and advising Project activities; including discussing restructure, mentoring and induction.
Second, under the revising and restructuring component, the Project personnel will (a) integrate evidenced-based interventions aligned with the Ohio Integrated System Model of service delivery and STAR Legacy modules developed by the National Center to Enhance the Professional Development of School Personnel into the coursework; (b) focus on development of collaborative teaming/teaching skills; (c)develop a collaborative online mentoring and induction Website in partnership with area schools; (d) redesign and extend service learning/field experiences in diverse settings; (e) develop and integrate an evidenced-based module/field to prepare teachers to meet the needs of ELL and minority students; and (f) restructure general education core curriculum to include a focus on 30 credit hours of language arts at the UG level.
Third, under the recruit and training content area specialists component, Project EC-NET will provide training for core content specialists (in math, science, social, and language arts) in the areas of evidenced-based interventions and effective designing of instruction, modification, and accommodations for students with disabilities. These specialists will provide relevant on-going training via mentoring, workshops, in-services, and university classes. This will assist special education teachers in meeting Highly Qualified Teacher status through the acquisition of subject matter competence, and in turn, provide quality instruction to students. Further, to provide ongoing university-level support and networking, the Project personnel (faculty and core content specialists) will also provide continued training and meetings through special courses and the online medium for first-year teachers at the University of Toledo.
Fourth, the effectiveness of the revised program on the students’ knowledge of evidenced based practices and skills; their pupil’s learning; and data on the graduates’ employment will be measured. Further, the products (e.g., course syllabi, modules) as a result of the Project activities will be shared through an accessible Project Website and through presentations at national and regional conferences.