Dr. Angela Lopez-Velasquez DA 210 G

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1 Graduate Program Title: Concentrations: Advisors (respective to each area of concentration): School: Graduate Program Coordinator: Department Chair: Master of Science in Special Education Adaptive Technology (AT) Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities (ASD/DD) Early Childhood Special Education (EC) Interdisciplinary Special Education Applications (ISEA) Learning Disabilities (LD) Emotional Disturbance (ED) Dr. Deborah Newton Dr. Ruth Eren Dr. Patricia Major Dr. George Olshin Dr. Louise Spear-Swerling Dr. Mary Kiarie Education Dr. Angela Lopez-Velasquez DA 210 G Dr. Ruth Eren 1

2 Graduate Program Prioritization Criteria and Questions/Elements 1. History, Development and Expectations of the Program a. Provide, to the best of your ability, a brief description of the program s history including the evolution of the program over the years. Describe specific changes that have been made to the program curriculum, changes to student demographics and the impact of these changes on the program, and efforts to recruit students to the program. If this is a new program, describe efforts to build the program and the progress of these efforts to date. (550 words) There are several graduate programs in the department of Special Education. The Master s in Special Education leads to a M.S. Degree in Special Education with a choice of concentration in Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities and Other Developmental Disabilities, Emotional Disturbance, Early Childhood Special Education, Adaptive Technology or Interdisciplinary Special Education Applications. This Master s Degree program may be coupled with an initial teacher certification in Special Education for students who wish to obtain state certification in this area or a cross endorsement certification in Special Education for those candidates who already hold a valid Connecticut teaching certification in another area. Although these two certification programs of study may be taken alone, without the Master s Degree, most students who seek a certification in Special Education continue on in our Master of Science Degree Program. The Master s in Special Education is a long standing program at the university. It has been in existence since the 1960 s and graduates by far, the greatest number of students in the state with a Master s Degree in Special Education. This is also true for students who seek Special Education certification on the graduate level at SCSU. The concentrations within the MS Degree program have continually evolved overtime and reflect the trend in Special Education needs within the state and in the country. Driven by the federal legislation, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975 (Public Law , commonly known as IDEA) which identified specific categories within the field of Special Education, the Master s Degree Program concentrations reflect this law and the population growth in each category. Initially, there was one MS Degree which focused on Special Education in general and reflected course work related to individuals with developmental disabilities. Almost immediately, the need for a concentration in Learning Disabilities was identified and this concentration was created to reflect the significant rise in that population of children in public schools in Connecticut. The Emotional Disturbance concentration was also immediately developed to address the growing number of children in our schools who have emotional problems that impact their educational progress. Early Childhood and Interdisciplinary concentrations were soon added as the state developed certification for early childhood programs and students requested an opportunity to explore several concentrations through an inter-disciplinary approach. The concentration in Adaptive Technology was created in the late 1990 s and is one of a kind in the state of 2

3 Connecticut. This was developed as research in the field of Special Education demonstrated the huge impact technology can have on the growth and development of children with special needs. The most recent addition (2004) to the Master s Degree concentrations is the concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities and Other Developmental Disabilities. The first Master s program in ASD in the state, this concentration revised the courses that previously focused on students with intellectually disabilities but added significant new course work to address the growing number of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities in our schools. Again, this illustrates how our Master s Degree program is dynamic and changes to reflect the needs presented by the population of children in schools in Connecticut. 2. External Demand for the Program a. Using the data provided, review and explain the relationship between the program and external factors that impact the: i. number of applicants and percentage of applicants accepted ii. 5-year enrollment trends (450 words) The School of Education Unit at SCSU produces the largest number of first-time teaching/administrative certificates issued by the State Department of Education (SDE). Data from the SDE (2008) shows that by 2008, SCSU yielded 4,985 certifications in the State. The next largest numbers are yielded by CCSU (2,989) and Sacred Heart University (2, 681) 1. Because teachers in Connecticut need to have a Master s degree to maintain their teaching certification, we have a high enrollment of teachers in our Master s program. Many of our own Special Education alumni come back to the Department to pursue a Master s degree in Special Education, focusing on one of the six areas of concentration available. However, we also have many students who do not hold a certification in Special Education, but who are interested in the field and decided to pursue their Master s studies in our department. 1 CT State Department of Education, Bureau of Educator Standards and Certification, September 22,

4 The table below, provided by the Graduate Office for the purpose of this report, shows the number of applicants and percentage of applicants accepted in the MS-SED program. Academic Year Program Applications Accepted Acceptance % MS-SED % MS-SED % MS-SED % MS-SED % MS-SED % 4

5 Enrollments Fall '08 Spr '09 Fall '09 Spr '10 Fall '10 Spr '11 Fall '11 Spr '12 Fall '12 Spr '13 Fall Avg Spring Avg Female Male Total Full-Time Part-Time Fall '08 Spr '09 Fall '09 Spr '10 Fall '10 Spr '11 Fall '11 Spr '12 Fall '12 Spr '13 Fall Avg Spring Avg Students Overall GPA b. Which employers, institutions and/or communities benefit from this program? Describe how the program meets the needs of the state (e.g., economic, cultural, civic, etc.)? (150 words) Many schools and institutions in the State of Connecticut benefit from our graduate programs. Since teachers in the State need a Master s degree to maintain their certification, many teachers interested in acquiring expertise in the different areas of Special Education enroll in our program (See Table from SDE). The majority of our Master s graduated teachers are employed by public schools, and many work in private facilities that serve the needs of individuals with disabilities. Students with disabilities, their families, and the programs that serve them benefit from the teachers that we prepare in our Master s program. c. Is there anything else you would like us to know? (Issues you might choose to discuss could include competition from local, regional, and other institutions.) (100 words) Our graduate programs compete with those in other universities that also offer certification and Master s programs in Special Education. Those programs include the Master s and certification programs at Saint Joseph University, the Master s and certification program at Fairfield University, the Master s program at University of Connecticut, and the certification program at Central Connecticut State University. Comments from many of our applicants, however, indicate that we get a large number of students because our program offers high-quality education. Many of our applicants come to us because they have seen the quality of teaching in our alumni. At times, we accept students who transfer in from other programs in Special Education in the State. Finally, currently Special Education is identified as a shortage area in the teaching profession. Our graduate programs help to fill the need for Special Education teachers in the state of Connecticut. 5

6 3. Internal Demand for the Program a. Using the data provided, please describe how courses in your program serve students in other programs. What percentage of students in your courses come from other programs? Please provide enrollment data for graduate courses offered by your department that are required for other graduate programs. (Some of your discussion in this section may be repetitive, but is important in understanding the internal demand for the program.) (100 words) Teacher candidates in the School of Education Unit are required by the SDE to take SED 225: Introduction to Exceptionalities or SED 481: Teaching Exceptional Students in Elementary Education Classrooms (elementary teachers); or SED 482: Teaching Exceptional Students in Secondary Education Classrooms (secondary teachers), and IDS 471: English Language Learners in the Mainstream Classroom (required for all). Given the State climate of inclusion of students with exceptionalities in general education, many general education teachers from other programs take the introductory courses of our concentration areas (i.e., SED 530: Approaches to earning disabilities: Issues and Research; IDS 553: Grant writing and funding sources; SED 550: Early childhood Special Education; SED 523: Developmental intervention with the seriously emotionally disabled; SED 517: Introduction to adaptive technology; SED 520: Nature and needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities and other developmental disabilities). b. How is enrollment for your graduate program influenced by enrollment in your undergraduate program? Is there potential for a formal pathway between the two programs? (100 words) Our Department has an established pathway from undergraduate to graduate Special Education. Many of our students who finish the undergraduate program in Special Education and/or initial certification program in Special Education continue with us to pursue their Master s degree in Special Education. Undergraduate students in certification programs other than Special Education may enroll in our cross-endorsement program of graduate study to take the courses needed to pursue a certification to teach Special Education. It is less common that non-special Education certified students enroll in our Master s program only. When this happens, it is in the case of a general education certified teacher who wants to learn more about a particular area of Special Education. How reliant are you on non-program students taking your courses? (100 words) We do not rely on non-program students to fill our courses. We believe the number of students in our Master s program is enough to sustain our need for enrollment. 6

7 c. Does the program produce services needed by other parts of the campus (e.g. clinics, testing services)? (100 words) The graduate program provides services to the community through the Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Hamden Transition Academy. The Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders works with the SCSU Disability Resource Center (DRC) and with International Studies. The Hamden Transition Academy provides student workers to offices on campus. In our Master s program, reading clinics are available to the community as our students acquire the skills to assess and implement appropriate instruction in the LD concentration. In addition to reading clinics, each concentration offers a clinical practicum in neighboring communities. Our graduate students from the ASD concentration provide a summer clinic in Bridgeport public schools. Our graduate students in LD and ED provide a summer clinic in New Haven, Hamden, and Branford public school. 4. Quality of Program Inputs and Processes a. Please provide a narrative of how the qualifications and assignments of your full- and part-time faculty align with and support the program. Please include a discussion of the challenges and successes the department faces in providing qualified faculty to meet the needs of the program. In those programs where it is appropriate, please discuss the integration of adjuncts into the program s curriculum. (450 words) Our faculty is highly qualified to support the Master s program. Faculty are assigned to courses based on their area of expertise. Our concentration area heads regularly contribute to advancing their fields of specialization (e.g., Louise Spear-Swerling is nationally recognized in the field of learning disabilities, and Ruth Eren is nationally recognized in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities). Our faculty also pursues grants through the federal government when appropriate to support their area of expertise. One current challenge in our department is acquiring an expert in the area of Emotional Disturbance. This area head position has been vacant for a number of years and the department is currently conducting a search to fill the need of this specialization. An additional current challenge is to replace Dr. Deb Newton as the area head in the AT concentration due to her reassignment to the Dean s office. The department is in need of an area head for the AT concentration. This need is critical due to the impact that technology can have on the growth in development of children with disabilities. Our department is strong and possesses abundant expertise. Most of the core courses in the Master s program are taught by full-time faculty. Very few adjuncts teach our Master s level courses, but some are still required to provide instruction in some of the area of concentrations (i.e., LD, ED, AT). When adjuncts are used in the other areas of concentration, it is due to a temporal low in full-time faculty (e.g., due to a sabbatical leave or a leave of absence). 7

8 b. Briefly describe the merits and logic of your curriculum. (250 words) Our curriculum is aligned with national accreditation agencies such as the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Our Master s program is dynamic. Areas in the Master s program such as learning disabilities, adaptive technology, and Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities are of high interest for our students. Changes in the program curriculum are based on new developments in the research and practice literature in each area. All of our courses align with the Council for Exceptional Children s (CEC) standards for each area of concentration. The curriculum of each area is constituted by an introductory course to the concentration area, a number of courses for in-depth exploration of the area in theory and practice, courses on assessment and intervention, and a culminating clinical practicum experience. All of these courses include fieldwork experiences. This sequence provides our Master s students with a solid knowledge base in the area of concentration, accompanied by a number of clinical experiences to apply their knowledge in real contexts. b. How dynamic is your program? Please identify and describe what procedures are in place to provide continued, regular evaluation and review (include formal and informal activities). Describe the impact of the review on the program and curriculum (include FAAR data as evidence). (300 words) In the concentrations where an area head exists (i.e., ASD, LD, EC, and ISEA), our Master s program is very dynamic. Our students in these concentrations receive an end-of-program survey, where they evaluate program outcomes. Our current challenge is extracting the same data from the concentrations that do not currently have an area head (i.e., AT, ED). Our programs are driven by changes in the field, which lead to refining course content to reflect the most current research and evidence-based practices. Each concentration has a comprehensive exam that evaluates students mastery of the content in the area of concentration. The following data reflects the results from a graduate survey and was sent to us for inclusion in this report by the Graduate Program Prioritization Committee. 8

9 c. Is there anything else you would like us to know? (Issues you might discuss could include the quality of your incoming students, or a comparison of your curriculum, courses, assessments, experiences to similar programs. How does your program better serve students than similar programs offered elsewhere?) (200 words) Our department was the first in the state to offer a Master s concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities. The Master s areas of ASD/DD, LD, and AT are cutting-edge. We have transfer students from other universities with Master s programs in Special Education who want to pursue our program due to these areas of concentration and the expertise of our instructors. 9

10 5. Quality of Program Outcomes a. How does your program use assessment data to ensure quality of student outcomes? Describe the quality of your program outcomes. (e.g., G.P.A., Student Opinion Surveys, course evaluations, alumni surveys, professional assessment/evaluation, and other assessments). (900 words) All students in the Master s program are required to take a comprehensive exam after the completion of the courses in their area of concentration. This comprehensive exam has 4 to 5 questions, each related to coursework in the area of concentration. The data from this evaluation helps us to determine the effectiveness of our course instruction and guides changes in course content, course alignment, and the implementation of instruction. The table below shows the overall GPA for our students throughout the past 5 years. An average GPA of 3.8 illustrates that our students are highly successful in our courses. (Missing in table: Spring Average: 265 student, 3.80 GPA) b. Is there anything else you would like us to know? (Issues you may choose to discuss could include preparing your students for employment or further scholarly pursuits. Where possible provide data driven examples, e.g., number of students who pass the licensing exam). (300 words) We have very few full-time graduate students, mainly because due to the fact that most of our graduate students are currently working as educators in the field. Students who complete a Master s degree with us are able to maintain their current position and receive permanent certification by the SDE, or if full-time graduate students, they are able to acquire a teaching position within two years of graduation, if not sooner. Each year, school districts contact us directly seeking to employ our graduate students. 10

11 6. Size, scope and productivity of the program a. How many credit hours does the program generate? (table) b. What degrees or certificates are awarded? (This is a simple list of degrees and will list only one degree or certificate unless you are one of the programs approved to report your data in combination)(in table form with item c) Master s of Science in Special Education with a Concentration in one of the following areas: Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities, Emotional Disturbance, Early Childhood Special Education, Adaptive Technology, and Interdisciplinary Special Education Applications. b. How many degrees or certificates have been awarded (five year data)? 11

12 c. Using the data provided, present and discuss the record of the graduate faculty in research/creative activity. (200 words) Category Counts by Program Faculty Productivity Data Master of Science in Special Education Report Run Date: February 9, 2014 Report Date Range: July 1, 2009 to June Type of Publication Book, Chapter in Non-Scholarly Book-New Book, Chapter in Scholarly Book-New Journal Article, Academic Journal Journal Article, Professional Journal Other Professional Presentations Presentation Type Keynote/Plenary Address Lecture Oral Presentation Other Paper Poster

13 Professional Conference Participation Role Attendee Other Contracts, Grants and Sponsored Research Type Contract Grant Sponsored Research Our faculty contributes their work to a number of different publications. The data presented above shows that the bulk of our faculty s contributions to the field are in the realm of academic journal articles. This speaks to our interest in staying current with the research in our different fields of expertise. Our faculty are frequently accepted to present their work at local, regional, and national professional conferences. The professional development that results from the interchange of ideas with colleagues from other institutions helps us to maintain and upgrade our graduate courses. The productivity data shows that the acquisition of grants, contracts, and sponsored research is not abundant in our department. One of our current challenges is to increase the number of faculty who actively pursue grants and sponsored research opportunities. d. What types of student or student/faculty research or creative activity have been developed and or produced (e.g., include theses, dissertations, special projects)? (100 words) The large majority of our students work full time and attend classes at night. Their busy lives leave little room for participating in research with faculty. The Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders has included students in research projects. Currently, two faculty members are working with students in their creative activity. Faculty in the department have supported students to apply for research and teaching assistantship awards provided by the School of Graduate Studies. It is expected that if these awards are granted to our students, the participation of our graduate students in faculty research will be enhanced. Again, our challenge is that most of our students are full-time employees in 13

14 schools, and have little if any time to devote to research and collaborative activities with faculties. In your narrative discuss how all these data impact or have impacted the size, scope or productivity of your program. (200 words) We are fortunate to have students applying to our program regularly throughout the year. Our Master s program is large and interested students keep the program dynamic and updated. Due to the shortage of Special Education teachers in Connecticut and the longstanding sterling reputation of our Special Education department, our enrollment remains consistently high and it s expected to increase with the addition of an area head in the concentrations of ED and AT. e. Is there anything else you would like us to know (this might include a discussion of equipment purchased solely for the purposes of the graduate program). (100 words) The department has acquired a number of mini ipads to specifically teach courses in Adaptive Technology and Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities. The department utilizes the technology lab located in Davis Hall to enhance our students knowledge and use of adaptive technology with children with special needs. The department also stays current with the latest assessments and tests for Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities and Learning Disabilities. The department currently offers a summer institute in collaboration with the Yale Child Study Center on assessment for individuals with ASD. 7. Revenue and other resources generated by the program a.what are the sources and how much revenue does the program generate through student enrollments? Tuition & Fees Other Revenue Total Revenue Program Fiscal Year MS-SED ,133,579 1,309,070 4,442,649 MS-SED ,933,745 1,293,080 4,226,825 MS-SED ,467,338 1,183,917 3,651,255 14

15 c. What are the sources and how much additional revenue does the program generate through fees such as laboratory or special user fees? (50 words) Our department does not generate revenue through fees other than the fees generated from professional development activities conducted by faculty and staff in the Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Current revenue from these activities averages about $30,000 per year. d. What are the sources and how much revenue does the program generate by services (e.g., external or to other programs)? (50 words) The Center of Excellence for Autism Spectrum Disorders generates some revenue through professional development. Additional revenue is generated by faculty-acquired grants. e. In the narrative on this section discuss how the revenues and other resources impact the size, scope and productivity of your program? (100 words) The revenue generated by the Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders allows the department to have a greater presence in public schools throughout Connecticut. The professional development activities and conference offered by Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders attracts many students to our Master s level programs and request for possible cohorts in other parts of the state. 8) Costs and other expenses a. What are the total costs of the program? (table) Employee Compensation Operating Expenses Allocated Indirect Costs b. What is the ratio of costs to revenues? (table) Total Costs Ratio of Costs to Revenues 3,217, :1.00 3,411, : ,064, : 1.00 Total Costs (1,611,901) (89,717) (1,515,986) (3,217,604) (1,829,718) (95,017) (1,487,000) (3,411,734) (1,749,532) (65,032) (1,249,510) (3,064,074) 15

16 d. What investment in new resources does the program require? (200 words) As mentioned before, we are in need of a faculty member to lead the Emotional Disturbance and Adaptive Technology areas of concentration. There is currently a search in place to only fill the ED position. If these two concentration areas could be developed, the potential enrollment could possibly equal the enrollment in the LD and ASD/DD concentrations, our two current highest enrollment areas. Our second priority need is space. Our faculty offices are limited and small and the Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders is currently located in a former closet. This leaves no room for the development of a viable resource center for teachers in the field to visit and get materials, resources, and journals in best practices in ASD. This opportunity alone could possibly generate an increase in enrollment in this concentration. Finally, a space to provide a resource center for Special Education in general for teachers in the state to access could enhance the enrollment in our program and possibly increase collaboration with area districts in the form or professional development and consultation from faculty in the department. d. What demonstrable efficiencies exist in the way the program is operated (e.g., summer courses; cross-listed courses, etc.)? (100 words) To efficiently maintain high enrollment in all classes, we have a cyclical pattern in our course offerings. This prevents under-enrollment and last-minute course cancellations. In the summer, we offer the practica required for each one of the areas of concentration. We also offer cross-listed courses. 9) Impact, justification, and overall essentiality of the program a. How does this program connect to the University s mission statement and/or the Graduate School s mission statement? (100 words) Our Master s program is aligned to the University s and Graduate School s mission in that it is committed to excellence in teaching and learning, it promotes, supports, and celebrates diversity of all kinds, thus striving constantly for social justice. Our program works hard to provide access and to serve the public good. b. How does this program respond to societal needs that the institution values? (e.g., producing a critical thinking, educated citizenry; improving the state s workforce; meeting health care needs of the community, etc.)? (100 words) We respond to the societal need of producing high-quality educators who understand disability as an intrinsic part of the human experience, and who can serve the educational needs of individuals with disabilities. Through their work in schools and with many children and persons with disabilities, these educators extend what they learn in our 16

17 program to serve the needs of their communities. Graduates from our Master s program help address the shortage of Special Education teachers in Connecticut. c. To what extent does this program help the institution differentiate itself from similar programs at peer institutions? (100 words) We are proud to have a strong program, with high-quality faculty, courses, and instruction. Our program is closely connected to the Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders, a unique resource in the State that provides services and education to schools, families, and communities on evidence-based practices for individuals ages 3-21 with Autism Spectrum Disorders/Developmental Disabilities. Also, our faculty in several of the concentrations are nationally recognized in the field they represent. Finally, our faculty come with direct experience in the classroom and offer students in the program pragmatic strategies in addition to well-grounded research and knowledge regarding evidence-based practices in the field. 10) Opportunity analysis of the program a. Describe the external opportunities for strengthening your program. (300 words) We look to maintaining and strengthening our existing collaboration with New Haven, Branford, Bridgeport, and Hamden Public Schools. We have extended our Master s program to North Branford and East Lyme. One opportunity we envision is to expand our accessibility to the Master s program by opening satellite programs in the North East and North West corners of the State, which are identified as needing advanced teacher preparation programs for teachers and related providers for individuals with disabilities. A future opportunity is to develop a cohort in each of the areas of concentration in these places. b. Describe the internal opportunities for strengthening your program. (300 words) Financially, acquiring more grants and funding for projects and research to involve our graduate students is one opportunity we look forward to. Currently, we are seeking a grant in collaboration with the department of Communication Disorders to make available an additional certificate to our students. Academically and professionally, we look to explore special bilingual education as a potential additional area of concentration for the program in the future. Currently, an interdisciplinary team constituted of four faculty members of our department and four other faculty members from TESOL, Communication Disorders, and Elementary Education, is working on developing this area of expertise. Finally, if space were available, we could increase clinical opportunities for our graduate students and children in the community in the areas of reading instruction, social skill instruction, 17

18 activities to promote emotional stability and wellness, and assessment and recommendations in assistive technology. 18

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