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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

PLC (now DLE) and SPED Departments Win New $2 Million Collaborative Grant

Dr. Alberto Ochoa, Professor Ernesto Sanz, Dr. Angela McIntosh, Dr. Regina Brandon, and Dr. Anne Graves have been awarded a National Professional Development Grant of approximately $2 million from the federal Department of Education. The new grant will be known as ADELANTE and will support a bilingual and special education dual credential program to enhance language acquisition and literacy in local schools. ADELANTE is a robust collaboration between the Department of Special Education (SPED) and the Department of Policy Studies in Language and Cross-Cultural Education (PLC).

The central purpose of ADELANTE is to assist English learners in our local schools and to develop the highest professional standards for credential candidates. The grant faculty will achieve this by improving instruction vis-à-vis professional development, university school partnerships, and dual credentials collaborations in bilingual education and special education for candidates who speak both Spanish and English.

The credential program will also provide important opportunities, serving as a pipeline for Latino students who seek jobs in K-22 education. When interviewed Graves said: "Districts want to hire candidates who have dual language expertise." Interested applicants must already hold a bachelor's degree and must fulfill prerequisites, a certificate of clearance, and the CSET, a subject matter competency test.

The ultimate goal of ADELANTE is to transform the environment for local schools by supplying more of the much-needed bilingual special education teachers. Graves went on to express: "Subtractive bilingualism is not desirable instead we're supporting the native language of the child." We wish to prepare candidates to assure that language differences are not confused with or mistaken for disabilities and we also wish to support individuals with certified disabilities who are bilingual in our schools. Candidates in ADELANTE will receive partial to full tuition reimbursement during the four semesters it takes to complete the two credentials. The grant window is five years with a hope to award approximately 60 credential candidates. The two departments are in the process of recruiting a cohort of students to begin in the 2013 semester and will add at least a dozen new students per year. According to Dr. Graves, more and more incoming students are interested in special education as a career. During their practicum training, credential candidates will be placed in local schools with a high population of English learners. Candidates will also teach students with mild-moderate and moderate-severe disabilities.

Story credit to Diane Slagle