Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi this week learned that Oklahoma is one of eight states to receive part of $7.7 million in grants each year for five years from the U.S. Department of Education for training systems to help students with disabilities.
The state Department of Education will receive the nearly $1.2 million annual Special Education-State Personnel Development Grant to assist in reforming and improving systems for teacher training and professional development in early intervention and Common Core State Standards to enhance results for children with disabilities.
“I’m very appreciative of the collaborative effort of my team in putting in this strong grant request,” Barresi said. “I’m anxious to start using it for the benefit of children.”
Amy Daugherty, associate state director for Special Education Services with the state Department of Education, said grant money will enhance initiatives already in place in Oklahoma classrooms and will not be used to start new programs or tell schools how they must educate their students.
In some cases, grant money might provide coaches to work with educators to teach them best practices of helping students with disabilities. In other cases, it might provide evaluation of existing programs.
Because so many students with disabilities are in general population classes in Oklahoma, Daugherty said, the grant actually will end up helping all students, and it will bring broader collaboration between special education and regular education teachers.
Programs will include a blended teaching model of response to intervention and positive behavior support and also will include a parent component, she said.
“Our goal is that not one person can do all this,” Daugherty said. “It takes all the adults, including parents.”
Daugherty said because an emphasis of the training and services offered as a result of the grant will be on early literacy and meeting Common Core State Standards, it goes well with Superintendent Barresi’s 3R Agenda to Rethink, Restructure, Reform. It also fits with legislation passed earlier this year that will require students to demonstrate reading proficiency before being passed to third grade, she said.
Other winning states: Connecticut, $798,885; Louisiana, $1.2 million; Maine, $501,572; Nebraska, $795,662; New York, almost $1.6 million; Oregon, $996,792; and Wyoming, $653,473.