[ skip to content ]


Old Dominion University has been named one of two 2005 recipients of the Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

The purpose of the award is twofold: To recognize excellence in teacher education programs and 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. Ball State University was also recognized by the organization.

In announcing the awards, AASCU President Constantine W. (Deno) Curris said, "Many of our teacher education programs are doing outstanding jobs. We want to recognize the best among those programs."

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."

George L. Mehaffy, AASCU's vice president for academic leadership and change, and whose division oversees the award process, said, "The Christa McAuliffe Award challenges teacher education programs to demonstrate the effectiveness of their programs, an incredibly difficult task. Yet these two award winners have made striking progress in demonstrating the impact of their program on graduates and the impact of those graduates on K-12 students.

"Through this award, these nationally selected programs offer innovative leadership in the continuing redesign and improvement of teacher education," he said. "The proposals we received demonstrate that AASCU institutions are committed to placing highly trained and fully qualified teachers in America's classrooms."

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."

AASCU will present the award at its 2005 annual meeting scheduled for Nov. 20-22 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

This article was posted on: September 7, 2005

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

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