$1.25 million grant to benefit special education doctoral students

Monday, September 11, 2017

A $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will fund five future UNC Charlotte special education Ph.D. students’ training in an important specialization in the field.

Awarded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), the grant builds on and intertwines with the Cato College of Education’s current programming in special education by preparing scholars to be higher education faculty with a specialty in multi-tiered academic and behavioral interventions.

“Multi-tiered systems provide a framework of support for early intervention and intensive intervention for students at risk for or with disabilities,” explained Charles Wood, a professor in the Special Education and Child Development Department. He submitted the grant with departmental colleague Ya-yu Lo. “In a Response to Intervention model, for example, an elementary school’s core reading curriculum should be appropriate for most students (Tier 1). Students who need extra support may receive small-group instruction in reading (Tier 2). Students who continue to struggle (especially those with disabilities) may need more intensive support and intervention (e.g., Tier 3 daily small-group or individual instruction).”

The grant, which is the second of its kind Wood and Lo have received, will provide funding for tuition, conference travel and a stipend for five full-time doctoral students through their graduation from the program.

“Due to the growing body of research related to improved school outcomes, higher education special education faculty need to prepare teachers to implement multi-tiered academic and behavioral interactions with students at risk or with exceptionalities,” Wood said. “Our graduates will have a thorough understanding of these models and will conduct research on academic or behavioral interventions at various levels of intensity.”

Scholars funded by this project will follow the core curriculum of the full-time Ph.D. program and complete the specialty requirements through co-teaching, seminars and research and leadership experiences centering on multi-tiered academic and behavioral interventions. They also will establish their skills through hands-on experience in a variety of settings including high-needs, high-poverty and low-performing schools.

Since its launch in 2001, the Cato College of Education special education doctoral program has established a strong record of success. In 2015, the U.S. News and World Report ranked the program in the top 20 nationally — its sixth year of national ranking.

Wood and Lo will begin the new project in January 2018.