Hear the November 11, 2008 interview on WGLT with Dr. Debra Loomis
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Eureka College receives special education grant
College to transform curriculum in special education over five years
Eureka College will partner with the Associated Colleges of Illinois’ Center for Success in High-Need Schools and four other ACI member institutions in a five-year, $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant will support Transforming Curriculum in Special Education (T-SPED), a collaborative initiative to enrich special education curricula. University of St. Francis in Joliet will lead the T-SPED partnership, which also includes Aurora University, Aurora; Dominican University, River Forest; and Lewis University; Romeoville.
The T-SPED grant was awarded under the U.S. Department of Education’s Special Education Preservice Training Improvement Grants Program, which seeks to improve the quality of special education teacher preparation programs and ensure that graduates meet the highly qualified teacher requirements of No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
“Faculty in the Eureka College education department are very excited about this grant,” said Eureka College special education professor Debra Loomis. “Faculty all have experience in the public school setting and recognize the importance of developing collaboration skills in all teacher education candidates. Commingling the special education and elementary and secondary education programs will further enhance our students’ preparedness for the workplace.”
The T-SPED grant continues the work of ACI’s Illinois Special Education Collaborative, a curriculum development initiative to increase the number of highly qualified special education teachers for Illinois high-need schools. T-SPED also seeks to increase the number of special education teachers who have both the content knowledge in math and science and sufficient knowledge of evidence-based instruction in core subjects to advance achievement among children with high-incidence disabilities; who have clinical experience specific to the challenges of high-need schools, which experience the worst shortages of special education teachers; and who are familiar with response to intervention, a new approach to education now required by the State of Illinois.
The Associated Colleges of Illinois is a group of 23 private colleges and universities, rooted in the liberal arts tradition, which leverages the expertise of its statewide network to provide underserved students with new educational opportunities. Teacher preparation is a core competency at ACI member institutions, which enroll more than 55,000 students and graduate nearly 3,500 new teachers each year. Since it was established in 2004, ACI’s Center for Success in High-Need Schools has supported the transformation of teacher education curricula at 11 member colleges and universities; disseminated a new certification model for multi-categorical special education teachers; helped more than 500 adults begin new teaching careers in high-need schools; provided more than 700 teacher candidates with clinical experiences in high-need schools; and more than doubled the number of ACI alumni who choose to teach in schools serving the neediest students.
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