The College of Education, under the leadership of Professor Stacy Dymond, has been filling the special education teacher gap for many years now through over $2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education (2009 – 2018). The grants, Accessing Curriculum in Educational Settings for all Students (Project Access) and Innovative ACCESS to Curriculum for Students with Severe Disabilities, fund tuition costs and support the College’s presence in the Chicago area by funding a grant coordinator to work with teachers in the Chicago Public Schools. 

Through a multiyear study funded by a $1.18 million grant issued by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Professor Dorothy Espelage found that the effectiveness of Social-Emotional Learning programs hinges on how well they are implemented—and in the U.S., implementation is often piecemeal.

Project Blend, funded by the U.S. Department of Education for $1.24 million, is a model program for preparing doctoral students who will work in early childhood education, including early childhood special education. Students are prepared to effectively teach children with a wide range of abilities within the same classroom. Susan Fowler, professor in Special Education, is the principal investigator, and Rosa Milagros Santos, professor in Special Education, is co-principal investigator for the project.

This project was supported by grants totaling over $1.9M from the Illinois State Board of Education and the federal Institute of Education Sciences. This new tool makes the process of developing individualized learning plans easier for teachers, and it helps them focus on the instruction that benefits students the most.