Campus: CSU Chico -- January 28, 2002

CSU Chico Special Education Program Receives Major Federal Grants

The Department of Professional Studies in Education at California State University, Chico has received two major federal grants totaling $2.3 million to support special education teaching. Both grants are from the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

The first grant was awarded under the competition for the preparation of special education personnel. It was intended to help prepare teachers to serve infants, toddlers and children with severe disabilities. A total of 133 applications were reviewed, and only 33 applicants were funded. Of the 33 grants given, CSU, Chico's was rated number one.

This grant will award 125 CSU, Chico intern teachers over the next five years a stipend of $6,600 to pay for travel, fees, books and supplies while they receive their Education Specialist Moderate/Severe credential and/or Special Education Early Childhood Certificate. This project recruits, prepares and supports special education teachers for pupils with severe disabilities in high poverty rural schools. Specialized recruitment strategies are designed to attract and support candidates from underrepresented populations, especially including those with disabilities.

Individuals interested in pursuing careers as teachers of pupils with severe disabilities may contact their local county schools office regarding qualifications for internship positions. They may also contact Denise Dion, CSU, Chico special education internship adviser, at 530-898-5575.

The second grant was awarded under the preparation for high incidence or mild to moderate disabilities personnel competition. Of the 145 applicants, 27 were awarded the grant. CSU, Chico was rated second in this category. This project provides a long-term response to the challenges of improving the preparation of personnel to serve school-aged children with mild to moderate disabilities and of meeting the staffing needs in a large region experiencing shortages of these personnel.

The four-year grant awards each of the 100 recipients a $5,200 scholarship to cover fees, books and supplies. Individuals interested in pursuing careers as teachers of pupils with mild to moderate disabilities may contact the CSU, Chico Concurrent and Education Specialist Program Office for information at 530-898-6887.

More than $6 million in federal and state grants has been secured by CSU, Chico special education faculty in the past 12 years. Grant funding annually supports full student scholarships and provides mentor teachers to assist special education interns in the program's 46,000-square-mile service range.

The need for teachers in the special education field is increasing for many reasons, such as medical advancements that have made it possible for more children with disabilities to attend public school. Professor Mary Jensen, special education consultant, said, "CSU, Chico special education faculty have developed innovative programs that are distinguished in the state and nation for their ability to prepare teachers for tomorrow's children."

Graduates of the CSU, Chico programs have had a 100 percent employment record, working as special educators or as general education teachers prepared to meet the diverse learning needs of special populations. Retention records provided by public school partners indicate CSU, Chico special education program graduates are retained in their positions at a rate 50 to 70 percent higher than statewide teacher retention averages.

Further training and certification for special education teachers is necessary due to the nature of their work. Jensen said, "I believe these two major awards to our special education program will greatly assist our university and our region's public schools in recruiting very capable and dedicated teachers for children and youth with disabilities."

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