The Division of Curriculum and Teaching in the Graduate School of Education (GSE) was recently notified that it will receive $1.25M in funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (U.S. DOE – OSEP) for Project PACTS (Preparing Affirmative Collaborative Teachers and School Psychologists for Students with High-Intensity Intervention Needs in Elementary Schools). Under the leadership of Associate Professor of Curriculum and Teaching and project director Dr. Su-Je Cho, the 10 Fordham faculty members and supervisors implementing the project will help address the issue of demonstrated existing shortages of highly trained, qualified special education teachers and school psychologists in the field. Even more specifically among school psychologists, there is a chronic shortage of those who are bilingual.
To address these critical needs, Project PACTS will prepare a total of 35 scholars in two cohorts over a five-year period. Of those, Dr. Cho expects that 27 scholars will work on earning a Master of Science in Education (MSE) degree with a New York State (NYS) certification in Students with Disabilities for Grades 1-6, and eight will earn certification in School Psychology with a Bilingual Extension. Tuition support from the Graduate School of Education and the grant will fund approximately 70% of costs for special education degree candidates and approximately 50% of costs for the school psychology scholars. Upon completing the program, graduates will be expected to demonstrate the practical knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for productive work related to their respective certificates and degrees as well as collaborative work with professionals in related fields. GSE Dean Virginia Roach commented, “This is exactly the kind of structured interdisciplinary program needed to provide vital training for teaching and psychology professionals who are faced with more and more young children in classrooms with extensive learning needs. Our goal in preparing GSE graduates in this way is to make a meaningful impact on their professional skills that will in turn result in significant positive outcomes for the students they teach.”
Overall, the program’s five segments will provide targeted, interdisciplinary learning to aid scholars in becoming effective collaborators in designing and supporting focused instruction and intensive individualized interventions for New York City (NYC) elementary students with high-intensity needs. In addition, scholars will become skilled in behavioral interventions based upon the framework of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). PBIS is a proactive approach to establishing behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success. Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a set of procedures developed to ascertain the purpose or reason for behaviors displayed by individuals with severe cognitive or communication disabilities (e.g., individuals with autism).