Ann Fullerton and Susan Bert
For the first time in Oregon, individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) will have access to an inclusive university experience. A $2.5 million, five-year grant from the US Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education will create a college program that enrolls students with ID in regular PSU classes and culminates in the certification of skills for eventual employability and adult life. Ann Fullerton and Susan Bert, faculty in the Graduate School of Education, are co-directors of the project. Ruth Falco, Director, Research Center on Inclusive and Effective Educational Practices, was instrumental in bringing partners together for the project and in writing the grant proposal, and will serve as the project evaluator. The Think College Inclusion Oregon (TCIO) project is the first of its kind at a four-year university in Oregon.
“For many young adults, college is a path to independent living and preparation for employment in a chosen career area. Traditionally, individuals with intellectual disabilities have been excluded from the college experience, when college can be a critical step toward their success as adults,” said Fullerton.
PSU faculty and staff will design a program that provides inclusive college coursework, the option to live on campus, and preparation for future employment. The grant also provides academic advising and other academic support to help ensure students with ID are successful in their individualized college experiences. The plan is for 35 TCIO students to participate. The project will start small and focus on building capacity over five years. Continue reading
School district representatives travel from as far away as Alaska to recruit PSU’s aspiring teachers and counselors.
School districts hiring at an all-time high
This year Portland metro area school districts scrambled to find enough educators to fill the more than 2,300 positions open in schools. In spring 2015, the PSU Graduate School of Education (GSE) produced 392* new licensure graduates who eagerly anticipated their first assignments. Many GSE cohort leaders reported 100 percent employment for their class. Some GSE graduates had multiple offers, and many were offered positions as early as May for the 2015–16 school year.
“All of my students who wanted them found jobs,” said cohort leader Barb Ruben, who teaches in the Secondary Dual Educator Program that generates middle/high school teachers. Ruben noted that one or two students planned to travel or focus on their families before landing their first jobs, so they were not yet searching. Continue reading
Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG): Factors that Support Racial and Ethnic Minority Students’ Success in Low-Income Middle Schools is a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in its second year at PSU that is designed to study the impact of using garden-based education to support Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) among racial- and ethnic-minority students. The $500,000 project, which is a partnership between PSU and Portland Public Schools, serves sixth through eighth graders at Lent and Lane Middle Schools in outer Southeast Portland. Both schools have high numbers of students who are low income and minorities. PSU’s Learning Gardens Laboratory is one of the sites serving Lane. About 200 sixth graders participated in the first year.
The SciLG is led by long-time school garden pioneer and researcher Dilafruz Williams, with Sybil Kelley in Educational Leadership and Policy, Cary Sneider in the PSU Science Education Center, and Ellen Skinner in the PSU Psychology Department in a unique cross-disciplinary approach.
Two important features differentiate the project. First, while most school garden programs exist in lower elementary grades, the SciLG is designed for middle schoolers. By continuing the study with the same group of students over three years, sixth through eighth grades, investigators are collecting unique longitudinal data on engagement and motivation.
Second, the project is aligned with the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Oregon is one of the lead states that has adopted the new standards, which had not been updated in 15 years. The new NGSS establish what K–12 students will need to know and be able to do upon graduating from high school. Rapid advances in science and technology in recent years and new information about how students learn prompted the update, along with the goal for American students to graduate and better compete in a global economy. The hope is that by increasing skills and interest at the middle school level, Lane and Lent schools’ culturally diverse students will have better proficiency in STEM classes in high school and beyond.
“We at PSU have seized the opportunity to bring together two significant education movements,” said Williams, principal investigator on the grant. “One is NGSS. And the other is the surge of interest in school gardens across the nation. With tens of thousands of school gardens across the country, research shows that school gardens positively impact student outcomes, especially in science.”
According to the 2014 Oregon Minority Teacher report, PSU continues to produce the most culturally and linguistically diverse teacher candidates and, in fact, is the only institution that has had double-digit enrollment figures of diverse students (24.2 percent). The same report states that PSU has the most diverse administrator program completers as well (19.6 percent).
Faculty advisors for the Graduate School of Education’s Initial Administrator Licensure (IAL) program had an enviable problem: too many students. Current enrollment was at 75 students for the one-year program, which prepares aspiring leaders for equity in our K–12 schools. The solution? Find strong school administrators to serve as co-teachers. But IAL professors Susan Carlile and Deborah Peterson also realized they had a unique opportunity to draw specifically from a pool of current administrators who had exceptional competence in cultural diversity.
“Superintendents and human resources administrators have let us know they love how we’re preparing the school leaders they hire. As a result of our students’ success, our enrollment increased significantly this year,” said Program Coordinator Susan Carlile. “The number of qualified teacher leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to equity and social justice expanded, and we wanted to ensure that each student we enrolled had a personalized, high-quality experience.” Continue reading
The PSU Graduate School of Education (GSE) has obtained a grant in the amount $998,650 to train 35 scholars for work in vocational rehabilitation agencies and community-based rehabilitation service providers. The Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program (CLRC) grant is from the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS).
The funding will allow the GSE to recruit higher numbers of graduate students who have backgrounds as members of groups traditionally underrepresented and underserved. “Providing more high-quality culturally competent counselors is essential to meet the growing demand in the clinical rehabilitation field,” says Principal Investigator Tina Anctil. “Our aging population and the continuing needs of groups such as veterans predict that the demand for clinical rehabilitation counselors will continue to grow.”
The CLRC is a 90-credit master’s program that is nationally accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) and is under review by Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) for a new accreditation that became available recently. The PSU Rehabilitation Counseling program is well regarded in the country. In 2014 it was named 18th in the US by US News and World Report. The PSU Counselor Education program opened in 1968.
Zola Dunbar began teaching language arts and reading classes as an adjunct for PSU in 1968 while she was a full-time elementary teacher in the Beaverton School District. She came to PSU in 1979 full-time after earning her EdD at the University of Oregon. For a time she directed the Student Teaching Office, and she was very supportive of PSU athletes, tutoring them even after her retirement.
Dunbar grew up in Central Oregon, attending all 12 grades in a one-room schoolhouse. She graduated from Eastern Oregon College of Education in the late 1940s, as did her husband Don. In 2013, they received the EOU Distinguished Alumni Award. The couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 2013.