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Special Education

Concentration-specific Indicators

  1. Since Fall Semester 2008, the Special Education Concentration has acquired funding for three separate projects (two through the U.S. DOE, Office of Special Education Programs and one through the JEHT Foundation) totaling $1,674,411.  A third U.S. DOE, Office of Special Education Programs research to practice grant totaling $781,774 will come to completion this year. The Special Education Program also has a contract to support the Journal of Special Education Leadership in the amount of $13,000 per year. Prior to receipt of these grants, the Special Education Concentration had one other U.S. DOE, Office of Special Education Programs, grant in the amount of $620,000.


  1. Past involvement with the public schools includes Special Education’s use of gift money exceeding $75,000 to develop a postsecondary transition project with the Springfield, Lowell, Worcester, Boston, and Lawrence Public Schools. The most recent use of this money involves work with secondary students in Springfield through the newly developed Center for Youth Development and Engagement.


  1. The Special Education Concentration has worked closely with other Departments across the University on grant funded projects and in two instances has been directly responsible for the acquisition of funds. The latter includes two grants with Communication Disorders totaling $1,529,809 that focus on training masters students in Communication Disorders to provide services in the public schools to students with autism.
  1. Editor for a major journal in Special Education Leadership and Administration, The Journal of Special Education Leadership (which has a circulation of 6,000). This editorship has created national connections for students and faculty across the country and within the School of Education.


  1. The Special Education Concentration has played a pivotal role in promoting the national special education thought the involvement of senior faculty serving in key leadership roles for professional and service organizations; one is a board and executive committee member for the Council of Administrators of Special Education and also serves on the Council of Exceptional Children Sub-Committee on Professional Knowledge and Skills.
  1. The above grants have supported over 37 students in the past year and a half, providing them with tuition waivers, paid their fees, and given them a stipend. In addition, the Special Education Concentration has supported the offering of two sections of EDUC 325 each year, contributing to the concentration and department’s SCH profile.
  1. The Special Education Concentration enjoys national recognition as a member of the Higher Education Council of Special Education (HECSE), a membership open only to doctoral degree granting institutions in the U.S.  The purpose of the organization is to enhance doctoral education and to coordinate and promote the national research agenda.
  1. Special Education has been committed to training leaders, both teachers and administrators. Over 25 of our graduates are now either supervisors or directors of special education, principals, and superintendents in leadership positions within Commonwealth school districts, as well as districts across the country and internationally. In the past year alone 5 of our students have moved into leadership roles.
  1. The Special Education Concentration has worked closely with school districts and state education agencies in the Commonwealth, nationally, and internationally providing technical assistance, evaluations, and professional development.  Most of the work completed locally has been pro bono, e.g., Agawam Public Schools, Amherst Public Schools. 
  1. In meeting the professional development needs of school personnel, the Special Education Concentration has 12 doctoral students already working in districts and well over 20 graduates who received their doctorates in the past 15 years filling faculty, school district, and state agency leadership roles.


Quality Indicators

  1. Successful track record of securing funding support from major state and federal agencies, as well as private foundations that have resulted in the receipt of U.S. DOE Personnel Preparation Leadership grants and grants from private foundations.


  1. The Special Education Concentration has been involved in national initiatives ranging from the reauthorization of IDEA to the development of national research agendas that will drive the field for years to come.
  1. The Special Education Concentration continues to have a strong presence and involvement at the local, national, and international levels that are evidenced by the extensive working relationships with school districts, state and federal agencies, and professional organizations.


  1. Strong history of graduates assuming key leadership roles in schools, universities, and state agencies within the Commonwealth, across the country, and internationally.
  1. The strong leadership roles are evidenced by the number of refereed journal review boards on which the Special education faculty actively serves (Journal of Communication Disorders Quarterly, Journal of Emotional and Behavior Disorders, Journal of School Finance, and Journal of Multiple Voices), in addition to the editorships they hold and the journal for which they have served as ad hoc reviewers.


  1. Nationally recognized senior faculty and very talented junior faculty working in cutting edge areas of the relation of literacy to math disabilities, the relation of literacy to adjudicated youth with disabilities, assessment accommodations, anchored instructional practices, and special education leadership practices.
  1. The Special Education Concentration has received national recognition as a member of the Higher Education Council of Special Education (HECSE), a membership open only to doctoral degree granting institutions in the U.S. 


  1. The Special Education Concentration has demonstrated an unending commitment to students with disabilities and their families through their advocacy efforts.
  1. Special Education junior faculty has developed a research Center for Youth Development and Engagement that has been approved by the Department and the School, and is under review at the faculty senate.



  1. Continuing success and effort to secure external grant and contract support with has led to the ability to fund talented graduate students.


  1. Ability to influence national policy and research agendas through involvement with national professional organizations and associations.
  1. Integration of student training and faculty research that links students to nationally recognized scholars and policy makers through grants, editorships, and centers.


  1. Focus of faculty and student research on critical issues related to success of public schools, e.g., leadership, alternative education students, special needs students, learning disabilities, transition to postsecondary education and careers, and mathematics learning disabilities.
  1. Contribution to health of the department through the generation of UG student credits hours through the offering of multiple Introduction to Special Education course sections and Opportunities for Academic Success with Individualized Support course sections that support the development of postsecondary learning skills in students with disabilities and those at risk of failing.


  1. Abundance of high quality graduate students applying for admission and undergraduates enrolling in courses in Special Education.
  1. Interdisciplinary focus of faculty research across campus and in the community


  1. Current research partnerships with Springfield Public School, Amherst Public Schools, Agawam Public Schools, and the Shannon / Chicopee Shannon Safety Initiative.


  1. Acquire grant support through available sources, e.g., IES, OSEP, EOPSS, NIH, Department of Labor, and the Department of Justice, should improve as the faculty becomes more established.


  1. Further the Concentration’s national visibility and increase the impact on the field of special education through publications, grants, and involvement with professional organizations.
  1. Create partnerships with urban schools that provide opportunities to demonstrate the efficacy of the research in the areas of literacy, assessment, instruction, and leadership and the important connection to postsecondary opportunities that lead to employment.


  1. Provide leadership to the Commonwealth and nation on key policy and research initiatives in special education
  1. Expand both pre-service and inservice professional development opportunities through the use of satellite campus facilities and blended instruction to promote effective instructional and leadership practices in special education that in turn will help to alleviate shortages of highly qualified special educators.


Strategic Initiatives

  1. Secure more research grants through IES, OSEP, EOPSS, NIH, Department of Labor, and the Department of Justice by expanding interdisciplinary connections and partnerships to further expand networks and research and grant opportunities for faculty and graduate students in the Special Education Concentration.


  1. Promote the Center for Youth Development and Engagement as a vehicle for initiating large scale funding projects that include faculty and student participation from across the SOE and university.
  1. Further develop the already existing focused strands of research to expand the Special Education Concentration’s already established national presence in special education.


  1. Increase the participation of graduate students in professional organizations and societies through memberships and involvement by presenting and publishing research papers that contribute to the national research agendas in special education.
  1. Expand partnerships between the Special Education Concentration and local school districts and federal and state agencies to promote policies that benefit students with disabilities and their families.


  1. Engage the use of technology and multi-media to expand communication with prospective, current, and former students.