The Preparation and Retention of Collaborative, Effective, and Successful Specialists, (PROCESS) Project will restructure the existing Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Teacher Education program in the Department of Special Education at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) which trains teacher candidates to serve students with high incidence (HI) disabilities. Revision of the coursework and field experiences is necessary in order to align with newly released state standards for the preparation of K-12 teachers of students with HI disabilities, and to meet the demand for highly qualified teachers (HQT) with the necessary content knowledge consistent with requirements in IDEA. The PROCESS Project will not only revise, but support program redesign, expansion, and continuous improvement.
Improvement will center around the provision of training and fieldwork opportunities for Education Specialist (ES) candidates to serve students with HI disabilities through (a) supervised field experiences in a variety of settings including general education; (b) an emphasis on collaboration, including learning to work effectively with families, paraprofessionals and general educators; (c) guided instruction and practice in the collection, management and analysis of data including variables that affect student achievement; (d) supervised practice with incorporation of universal design principles and assistive and instructional technology into curricula and instruction; and (e) integration of specific evidence-based instruction and services into curriculum and field experiences in order to promote and increase K-12 student achievement. Additionally, faculty will collaborate with the Department of Secondary Education to develop a pathway for candidates to gain content-specific expertise in math and science in order to pass State required exams in these areas.
New courses planned include an introductory class on collaboration and consultation and a unique 6-week field experience course for all candidates to practice collaboration and consultation in a general education classroom, as a special educator under the mentorship of both a general and a special educator. Supervisors and mentor teachers will be trained on research-based methods for evaluation of teacher effectiveness, including methods for discussing videotaped classroom lessons where specific evidenced-based practices are implemented. In addition, PROCESS Project support will be used to further collaborations with general education faculty in the formation of new and the reevaluation of existing professional development school (PDS) relationships with LEAs and the restructuring of field experiences to take advantage of PDS settings (experiences in multiple grade levels, co-teaching with a Master teacher and with other pre-service candidates, etc.).
The Mild/Moderate Education Specialist Program will undergo continuous systematic review through the examination of data obtained from a variety of sources on teacher candidate effectiveness both in the preparation program and in subsequent employment settings. While in the program, pre-service candidates will receive support through tutoring and mentoring. Once in the field, teachers will receive opportunities for additional mentoring and support. The ongoing collection and analysis of multiple measures of teacher effectiveness throughout the program and in the field will produce teacher candidates that are prepared to plan instruction grounded in evidence-based interventions for K-12 students with high-incidence disabilities, implement effective instruction, collect and analyze data on student progress, and make appropriate instructional decisions that will improve student academic, social and behavioral outcomes.