Cal Poly Pomona has received a $246,322 grant from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to develop a streamlined program that will get special education teachers into classrooms sooner and more efficiently to help stem a critical shortage of teachers.
The current model, in which earning a bachelor’s degree first is required before work can start on a teaching credential, takes at least five years as a full-time student. Cal Poly Pomona’s new Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) would shorten that process to four years by enabling students to earn a bachelor’s in either liberal studies or early childhood studies while also completing the requirements for an education specialist preliminary credential.
ITEP is scheduled to start in fall 2018, which is the same time the university converts to a semester calendar.
“Cal Poly Pomona seeks to remain on the cutting-edge of teacher education while providing our community with quality educators,” says Nancy Hurlbut, interim dean at the College of Education & Integrative Studies. “We’re grateful to the CTC for enabling us to launch this new program that will more efficiently prepare special education teachers without diminishing any of the program quality.”
The California Department of Education projects that more than 1,600 new special-education teachers are needed each year in the Cal Poly Pomona service area, which serves approximately 14,000 students in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
Education specialists traditionally work in two capacities: as a teacher in a specialized academic instruction setting or as a resource specialist going into classrooms and collaborating with general-education teachers to ensure that students receiving services have the same quality of education.
Joanne Van Boxtel, education specialist professor, looks forward to planning the new streamlined curriculum and recruiting students.
“Many special-education teachers begin as instructional aides in classrooms, so the program currently caters to those working during school hours. We plan to continue with that model,” she says. “We already have strong district partnerships which will also help with recruitment. I think we’ll attract a good number of students.”
Cal Poly Pomona was one of 17 California State Universities that received grants.
The grant team included Van Boxtel, principal investigator; Heather Wizikowski, co-principal investigator; Christina Chavez-Reyes, co-writer; Teshia Roby, co-writer; and Hurlbut, co-writer.