Special Education Program

Year 7/1/05-6/30/06

Prepared by MaryAnn Byrnes, Graduate Program Coordinator


This year began auspiciously, with the arrival of Dr. Lusa Lo, our new Assistant Professor. Dr. Lo brings to us a significant background in assessment and in consultation with families whose first language is not English. Lusa’s teaching experience in the Oakland Schools enhances our school based approach and expands our ability to address multicultural issues. Our collaboration to accustom Lusa to our programs – and our area – was a delightful addition to the year. She learned quickly and has assumed significant advising activities this year.

Just when I thought we were back to the faculty strength we had before the departure of Dr. Doris Norman, six years ago, a mixed blessing appeared. Dr. Glenn Mitchell, a long time Lecturer in our program, was tapped to be NCATE Coordinator. Although I am delighted that Glenn has such a prominent role in NCATE (which can – and has been – of great assistance to our program), this change meant we lost _ of her teaching strength and almost all the time she would ordinarily work with us on service. Despite multiple requests to the Deans, we did not receive permission to replace Dr. Mitchell with anything but part time faculty. It appears that Dr. Mitchell will again fill this role in 2006-07, again without recompense to the program. The issue of Dr. Mitchell’s presence within our program troubles me, especially as I depart for sabbatical. While Glenn has graciously agreed to assume programmatic leadership during my absence, this leaves Lusa Lo as the sole full time faculty member for 80 + students, which causes me grave concern.

NOTE: TVI and O&M courses of study.

TVI is a set of offerings designed to prepare Teachers for Students with Visual Impairments throughout New England; it is a track under the C & I special education M.Ed. I worked with Robert McCulley to ensure all courses were designed to be parallel to other special education offerings and could successfully move through governance at the 600 level. Likewise. the Orientation and Mobility courses (all 500 level) were designed in concert with Dr. Glenn Mitchell; these comprise a free-standing certificate or elements of an M.Ed. in special education, without licensure.

Some points to consider about both these offerings follow:
÷ Both offerings are supported administratively by the extensive resources of either the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) or grant funds.
÷ TVI courses and staff are funded through a federal grant and contributions from New England state departments of education.
÷ No faculty lines are dedicated to these offerings; Bob (and now Laura Bozeman) have hired all faculty.
÷ To my knowledge all TVI tuitions are covered by the federal grant.
÷ Most of the TVI courses are delivered online; some of the TVI students take existing courses offered by our program.
÷ I have included TVI lead staff (Bob McCulley and now Laura Bozeman) in all program faculty communications and meetings. They have both endeavored to pattern their licensure applications and accreditation applications after our programs.
÷ I have counseled Bob and Laura that we need to work together to follow NCATE and UMB faculty procedures regarding student admission, practicum, and graduation. I have offered to meet with them regarding these issues. Periodically, we have been in contact to secure my faculty signature on admissions and/or graduation decisions or matters of governance.
÷ Most importantly, should grant funds end, these offerings could not be managed totally by current UMass faculty, especially with the current lack of staff support provided to the special education program.

All information contained below refers to special education programs leading to licensure in teaching children with moderate disabilities. Information on the TVI and O&M programs is kept by the administrative staff connected with those courses of study.

All activities noted below were completed by me, unless other faculty are specifically noted.

I. Applicants

This, and all other information on student numbers, is available either through the Registrar or the Advising Center. There has been no other support staff available to our programs, a fact which has severely limited data gathering and management. No summary reports have been provided to me this year, although I would welcome receiving and reviewing them.

II. Enrollment

Over the past few years, we have enrolled approximately 80 to 90 students. Detailed information is available from Admissions, the Registrar, or the Advising Center

sections offered =
Summer 05 - 4
Fall 05 - 12
Spring 05 – 16

III. Graduation

Information kept by the Registrar

IV. Program Development

÷ Realigned professional licensure M.Ed. & certificate to match revised licensure regulations; shepherded all successfully through governance.
÷ Created program handbook and revised it, with counsel of Glenn Mitchell, Lusa Lo and Mary Brady; copies provided to all part time faculty.
÷ Coordinated and chaired program faculty meetings to prepare for NCATE and CEC accreditation.
o Evaluated assessments to align with CEC and SPA requirements
o Reviewed and disseminated information regarding format of goals/objectives for our students’ professional work.
o Reviewed and revised content assignments and rubrics of SPEG 698: Moderate Practicum (Glenn Mitchell and Mary Brady).
÷ Established strong working relationships with both Madison Park Voc. High School and Chelsea High school – as key sites for practicum and pre-practicum students.
÷ More than doubled the number of practicum placements in urban schools.
÷ Facilitated offering of two new courses: SPEG 646: Gifted and Talented Students (with Nina Greenwald); and SPEG 647: Assessment-Based Instruction.
÷ Revised the rubric for SPEG 691: Research Seminar (with Lusa Lo).
÷ Sent program announcement material to Boston Public Schools newsletter coordinator.
÷ Supported the movement of the O&M course of study from a track in general education to one in special education; courses can be part of the M.Ed. without licensure.

V. Student support

÷ All students are personally, and regularly, mentored, and advised by either myself or Dr. Lusa Lo. Due to Dr. Mitchell’s NCATE duties in the Dean’s Office, she did not assume advising responsibilities for new students.
÷ Every newly-admitted student receives an email from me and a phone follow-up encouraging a meeting with their faculty advisor.
÷ All practicum students submit their Field Placement Applications to me. I review them and approve them, before passing them on to the Field Experience & Licensure Office, which handles paperwork for licensure.
÷ Intervened with students who had not received responses from Field Experience & Licensure Office.
÷ Secured placements for students seeking practicum sites.

VI. Secretarial help

÷ Basically none has been available or accessible. The Advising Center provides some assistance with regard to collecting admissions files, but since the center has moved to the Dean’s office, it is unclear what/how data are being kept regarding admissions, non-matriculated enrollment, or outreach. This situation is troubling to me. I am concerned that we do not have the ability to gather data to analyze.

VII. Future development plans

My sabbatical scholarship comes first, but here are some ideas that I plan to work on during my sabbatical and beyond:
÷ Advocate for the restoration of faculty line lost when Dr. Mitchell moved to the Dean’s Office.
÷ Deepen connections with Madison Park and Chelsea High Schools.
÷ Establish similarly close ties with urban elementary and middle schools.
÷ Adapt programs to the new DOE regulations.
÷ Focus on our secondary licensure program which needs substantial revision.
÷ Explore a special education certificate blended with current math & science offerings.
÷ Explore a 5 year program helping undergrad majors acquire a special education licensure as well.
÷ Create solution to the concerns expressed by Drs. Ebe and Flippo regarding secondary level students and EDCG 646 (see below). It is likely that this will entail creating a new course.

VIII. University-level service

÷ Two faculty staffed the University open house (LL and MAB).
÷ Delivered a seminar on special education to the general education supervisors.
÷ Met with Enrollment Management to discuss possible advertisement options. This is an area that really needs attention. According to this meeting, funds for advertising graduate offerings have declined. I am sure this has impacted at least our non-matriculating student numbers. A coordinated effort, led by the department chair, is in order.
÷ Attended Donor Dinner, at invitation of the Chancellor.
÷ Attend GPD meetings.

IX. Other duties

÷ Created |SWOT analysis (forwarded with this report) for incoming Dean.
÷ Advocated strongly for a realistic timeline within which students must pass MTEL examinations.
÷ Advocated strongly for re-establishment of regularly-scheduled support seminars for MTELs – in Foundations of Reading as well as Communication & Literacy.
÷ Mentored Dr. Lusa Lo in her first year here – helping her learn the program and the advising system.
÷ Designed schedule each semester; secured part-time faculty; met with part time faculty to review their teaching evaluations and instructional concerns.
÷ Discussed EDCG reading courses with Drs. Rona Flippo and Ann Freeman Ebe. As new faculty in this area, they are realigning the content of their courses. There is an issue with EDCG 646: Understanding Reading. This course was created to teach elementary gen ed and all special education students the basics of reading instruction, which is covered by the Foundations of Reading Test. Dr. Ebe feels that secondary level students in special education would be better served by taking a different course. After several thoughtful discussions, it appears no current literacy course addresses these skills and needs. As noted above, it is likely one will need to be created; since the students in question are special education students, I expect to lead this effort, in conjunction with revising our secondary program.
÷ Provided input on revision of GCE Practicum Application.
÷ Created Pre-practicum guide for special education activities in the general education programs.
÷ Coordinated SPA evaluation for CEC.
÷ Chaired successful search for general education faculty member.