Preservice Preparation of Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments
The purpose of this project is to increase the number of highly qualified teachers who serve children and youth with visual impairments/blindness, ages 3 to 22 years, to alleviate the chronic shortage of personnel in this field. To achieve this goal, 24 highly qualified scholars will be recruited for this master's level program, a competency based program of studies will be developed and implemented, scholar progress and project activities will be continuously monitored/evaluated, and graduates will be mentored and supported to promote retention in the field of visual impairment. Course content and field work experiences will be refined, integrated, and expanded to prepare future teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) to a) include research based practices that improve outcomes for students; b) collaborate with general educators, families, related service personnel to improve student outcomes; c) incorporate/ integrate universal design for learning and instructional and assistive technologies into coursework, field work, and instructional practices; d) collect, manage, and analyze student outcome data to guide intervention/instructional planning to promote student achievement; e) serve high need children with VI; f) meet NCATE and state standards/competencies that promote student access to and attainment of standards within the general curriculum and the expanded core curriculum; g) address the needs of children and families from diverse cultural and language backgrounds in diverse settings (high-need LEAS, high poverty/low performing, rural, suburban schools); and h) serve students (3 to 22 years) with diverse abilities (gifted to severely multiply disabled) and functional vision (20/50 to total blindness) as itinerant TVIs, as TVIs in resource rooms in LEAs, and/or as TVIs in special schools for students who are visually impaired.The progress of scholars will be continuously monitored and evaluated to assure that they complete the program, pass the praxis examination, are highly qualified according to IDEA, and demonstrate the knowledge/skills required for students to meet state achievement standards and to acquire skills from the expanded core curriculum for students with VI. Finally, the PVD will support graduates' success as TVIs by helping them find employment in the field of visual impairments/blindness, linking them with high quality mentors who will provide ongoing support to enhance their retention and success, and maintaining contact with them during their first three years of employment.