The California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) College of Education has been awarded a five-year $1.25 million grant from the United States Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services to recruit, prepare and retain highly qualified special education teachers dedicated to serving students with disabilities who attend inner city schools.
According to statistics, California mirrors national special education teacher shortages, especially in low-performing urban schools. The grant would establish the Secondary Special Education Teacher Interventionist (SSETI) project, allowing the CSUDH College of Education to expand its accredited special education credential program and assist in addressing disparities within the Los Angeles Unified School District, where approximately 12 percent of the district’s 650,000 students qualify for special education. It is estimated that SSETI will credential 80 special education teachers with expertise in instructing students with mild to moderate disabilities. Currently, between 80 and 90 students earn their preliminary education specialist credential in special education from CSUDH on an annual basis.
“We are looking forward to working with our LAUSD partners on another quality project,” said associate professor of education Kamal Hamdan, who is co-director on the grant with Kate Esposito, professor of special education. “Our partnership continues to grow stronger through our commitment to the preparation of the most qualified teachers.”
The grant will enable the CSUDH College of Education to implement a number of best practices in the field of special education teaching, with the ultimate goal of integrating them into the teacher education curriculum. This includes an emphasis on educating credential candidates not only in the theory of teaching special education, but also in evidenced-based methods of instruction. The program will specifically focus on teaching credential candidates how to implement multi-tiered systems of intervention techniques that have proven to support students with learning and behavioral disabilities.
Key components that officials believe will result in a pool of effective and dedicated teachers include:
- A rigorous application process that will select candidates with demonstrated competency in math, science, English or history.
- An intensive 12-month program that will place candidates in high-need schools as paid university interns while they complete their preliminary credential.
- Multiple opportunities to practice the integrated skills they learn through more than 50 hours of pre-program observations and 80 hours in a clinical lab school setting.
- Substantial mentoring and peer support throughout the program and during the first three years of teaching.
For more information about SSETI, call (310)243-2668.