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      U.S. Department of Education - Doctoral Level Leadership Grant

Grant Overview
Knowledge and Skills

Doctoral Leadership Grant

September 2008 - May 2013

The purpose of this doctoral level training grant was to train leaders in speech and language pathology who effectively collaborated with school personnel to improve outcomes for students with communicative disabilities. The speech language pathology doctoral students received training in collaborative intervention and leadership skills necessary to become effective faculty leaders who educate our future speech language pathologists who will serve the public schools.

The doctoral trainees enrolled in this project participated in a graduate program that led to the acquisition of knowledge and skills that promote improved educational outcomes for students with communicative disabilities. Over a period of 4 years the speech language pathology doctoral students benefited from a course of study that provided training in collaboration, supervision, organization and management, and service delivery. The doctoral students were expected to: 1) supervise masters level students engaged in practica in the public schools; 2) teach college level courses in the speech language pathology and special education program; and 3) conduct research related to the provision of speech language pathology services in the schools. In addition, doctoral students were given the opportunity to complete a state or Federal level internship to increase their awareness of the affects of social and educational policy on the practice of speech language pathology in the schools.

The Department of Communication Disorders and Special Education Concentration at the University of Massachusetts collaborated on the implementation of this project by blending a shared a knowledge-base about best leadership practices and policies for serving students with communicative disabilities and evidence-based approaches for school environments. With the adoption of No Child Left Behind, speech language pathologists were called upon to deliver services to students with disabilities within the general education setting. The intent of this grant project required doctoral trainees to minor in special education so they were able to communicate the knowledge traditions and demonstrate evidenced-based practices in both speech and language pathology and special education that enabled them to confront possibilities and problems associated with creating "inclusive" learning environments for students with communicative disabilities from diverse backgrounds. Accountability for performance results and high standards and efforts to educate students with communicative disabilities in the general education classroom have become the focus in the public schools.

Funding was provided for a 48-month period to support a total of five (5) doctoral trainees who completed course work and successfully earned a Doctoral of Philosophy in Speech Language Pathology. Doctoral trainees completed a minor field in Special Education that was outside the Department of Communication Disorders. The majority of course work in the minor area was limited to offerings in the Special Education Concentration so that it led to a clearly defined minor area of study in Special Education Concentration.

The 5 full-time equivalent (FTE) doctoral trainees were funded per academic year (9 months). The doctoral trainees engaged in academic study, conducted doctoral research, and engaged in teaching and supervision of Masters’ students completing ASHA practica/internships in the public schools with students who have communicative disabilities, ranging from learning disabilities to complex communicative disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In addition, a special emphasis was placed on the skills necessary that speech language pathologists need to possess to effectively address increasingly complex demands in the field amidst the increasing diversity among the students with communicative disabilities. The doctoral trainees collaborated with the Department of Communication Disorders and the Special Education Concentration in completing not only their course work, but their doctoral dissertation research on topics related to these areas.

This grant provided support over 4 years for 5 FTE doctoral trainees. Of the total direct costs, 70% directly benefited trainees.  The direct costs covered tuition, curriculum fees, stipends, health benefits, and student travel including the costs directly related to supplies/materials, duplicating and printing, and telecommunication services used by the doctoral trainees.