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Old Dominion University's Commonwealth Special Education Endorsement Program was prominently featured in the January issue of Public Purpose, the national magazine of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Old Dominion was named one of two 2005 recipients of the Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education by the AASCU in November. The magazine issue ran a profile on ODU's program and highlighted its achievements.

The award recognizes excellence in teacher education programs and aims to advance the field of teacher education by identifying promising practices and critical issues related to measuring the impact of programs on teacher candidate knowledge and the impact of these teachers on pupil learning.

Old Dominion's Commonwealth Special Education Endorsement Program (CSEEP) was recognized for its initiative "Meeting the Needs of Virginia's Children with Disabilities: The Commonwealth Special Education Endorsement Program." The distance-learning teacher preparation program provides a readily accessible path to full licensure and highly qualified status for conditionally licensed special education teachers across Virginia, ensuring a high-quality education for the state's children with disabilities. By providing a network among Virginia Public Schools, state-operated programs, non-public special education schools, the Virginia Department of Education and Old Dominion University, teachers are provided site-based college courses in special education designed to meet the requirements for endorsement in emotional disturbance, learning disabilities, and mental retardation; and integrated content knowledge, technology standards, instructional strategies and Virginia Standards of Learning throughout the course work.

Faculty members Steve Tonelson, Jane Hager, Robert Gable and Cheryl Baker, of the Darden College of Education, initiated this alternative certification program in 1997, and through their efforts and those of the CSEEP staff, have received almost $7 million in external funding from the Virginia Department of Education. The CSEEP program has provided tuition support for more than 1,500 conditionally licensed special education teachers and, to date, has helped 774 of Virginia's special educators to become fully licensed and highly qualified.

"Dr. William H. Graves III and his colleagues combined innovative teaching using sophisticated technology and their considerable talents to provide excellence and access in special education," said President Roseann Runte. "I applaud their success and admire their dedication in the service of educators and education. They epitomize the finest scholars and teachers who change lives daily at Old Dominion University."

AASCU's Christa McAuliffe award, named in honor of the teacher who died in the Challenger disaster, was first presented in the 1980s. McAuliffe was a graduate of Bowie State University (Md.), an AASCU member. In 2001 the AASCU board of directors authorized a change in focus for the award-an emphasis on honoring programs that could document the success of their graduates and their impact on the pupils that they teach.

AASCU institutions prepare more than 50 percent of all new teachers in the United States. Curris noted, "AASCU members are working to increase both the quantity and quality of teachers for America's classrooms."

This article was posted on: January 4, 2006

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Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.