Pitt’s School of Education Receives Nearly $4 Million to Fund Three Special Education Projects

Issue Date: 
February 6, 2012

The University of Pittsburgh School of Education has been granted nearly $4 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Programs for three separate five-year projects that focus on personnel development designed to improve services and outcomes for children with disabilities.

Faculty in the special education program of the Pitt School of Education’s Department of Instruction and Learning received funding for the three projects, whose titles are “Apprenticeship in Special Education Instruction, Research, and Leadership” (ASPIRE), “Early Intervention/ Early Childhood Special Education Autism Specialization,” and “Restructuring and Improving Special Education” (RISE).

ASPIRE, funded for $1.25 million, focuses on the preparation of leadership personnel in special-education research. Beginning in Fall 2012, a cadre of full-time doctoral candidates will be trained to provide in-service and preservice preparation for teachers of highneed students with disabilities. The project’s design emphasizes an apprenticeship model in which fellows are mentored into the field of special education by supportive training and opportunities for supervised independence in research, teaching, and leadership. Additionally, the program requires a leadership internship in which fellows will spend a minimum of one semester being mentored by special education leaders who work in a high-poverty, high-needs school.

ASPIRE coprincipal investigators are Naomi Zigmond, Distinguished University Professor; Louise Kaczmarek, professor; Christopher Lemons, assistant professor; Douglas Kostewicz, assistant professor; and Amanda Kloo, research assistant professor, all in Pitt School of Education’s Department of Instruction and Learning. Applicants interested in learning more about the program can contact Christopher Lemons at lemons@pitt.edu.

The second project, “Early Intervention/ Early Childhood,” also awarded $1.25 million, will provide support for master’s degree students specializing in early intervention for children with autism. It will address state and national needs for more appropriately trained early interventionists and early childhood special educators to work with children under age 5, primarily in urban and suburban settings. This preservice program will prepare 40 early interventionists and early childhood special educators who also will receive specialized training in intervention strategies for young children with autism, including parent-implemented interventions.

“Early Intervention/ Early Childhood,” coprincipal investigators are Louise Kaczmarek and Diana Knoll, research associate in the Department of Instruction and Learning.

RISE, funded for $1.495 million, is designed to revise and redesign Pitt’s Special Education Pre-K-Grade 8 program, developing a new dual certification master’s level program in special education and secondary content areas. A minimum of 100 teaching candidates will fulfill a field experience enhanced by collaborative general and special education mentors. Program graduates will participate in an intensive induction program for multiple years while working in high-need schools.

RISE coprincipal investigators are Christopher Lemons; Sheila Conway, clinical assistant professor; Amy Srsic, program coordinator; Douglas Kostewicz; and Steven Lyon, professor, all in the Department of Instruction and Learning.