The Center recently received a grant for $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education to supports Project RITE (Restructuring to Improve Teacher Education) from 2011-2016. As part of the work of this project, a group of project faculty have begun studying and restructuring the teacher education program in special education that is part of the Unified Elementary Proteach program. The restructured program will begin in the Spring, 2013. We will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and improve program components as part of Project RITE until 2015-16. This funding will also allow us to follow up on program graduates to determine the effectiveness of their practices and the impact they are having on student achievement.
The Center has been involved in several research projects related to disability policy and practice. The most recent research has focused on how local school districts develop schools that are both effective and inclusive. As part of this work, we conducted a case study of a highly effective inclusive school, and presented at conferences and published articles regarding this work. These articles and presentations addressed the qualities of effective inclusive schools, the principal’s role in developing and supporting these schools, and the how these settings improve teacher practice using high quality professional development.
The Center is currently engaged in providing leadership for an edited book that addresses effective inclusive schools. This book is under contract with Routledge Publishing, and will be published in 2014. The book includes 38 chapters that address organizational and systemic issues; effective inclusive schools for students with high incidence disabilities; effective inclusive schools for students with severe disabilities; and approaches to support effective inclusive schools in the future. A range of scholars from the U.S., the U.K., and Italy are engaged in this work.
The Center continues to engage in research focused on national trends in responding to the Least Restrictive Environment mandate of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004). The Center also continues to be involved in the development of standards that guide the preparation of special education teachers. Standards for the preparation of Inclusion Specialists were recently approved by the Council for Exceptional Children. Currently, a Center staff member is working with the Council for Exceptional Children in the development of Initial and Advanced Preparation Standards that will be used for the approval of professional preparation programs for all special education teachers. A draft of these standards has been completed, and a final version of the standards should be approved in 2013.
Finally, the Center houses legal documents from Perry Zirkel, a university professor of education and law at Lehigh University. This includes a review of recent special education case law under the IDEA and § 504/A.D.A. Specifically, the contents of this document consist of decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit, and the courts in Florida starting in 1995 and ending on 4/15/12. Also available is an article published by Zirkel and McGuire in the Journal of Special Education Leadership that provides “A roadmap to legal dispute resolution for students with disabilities.” To download these documents, go to the Resources section of this web site.
Center activities have resulted in the following presentations and publications. Copies of several of these publications are available on this web site (go to the Resources tab).
McLeskey, J., Waldron, N., & Redd, L. (in press). A case study of a highly effective inclusive elementary school. Journal of Special Education.
McLeskey, J., Landers, E., Williamson, P., & Hoppey, D. (in press). The Least Restrictive Environment mandate of IDEA: Are we moving toward educating students with disabilities in less restrictive settings? Journal of Special Education.
Hoppey, D., & McLeskey, J. (in press). Principal leadership for inclusive schools in an era of high stakes accountability. Journal of Special Education.
McLeskey, J., & Waldron, N. (2011). Full inclusion programs for elementary students with learning disabilities: Can they meet student needs in an era of high stakes accountability? Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, Eric Document ED529797.
Waldron, N., McLeskey, J., & Redd, L. (2011). Setting the direction: The role of the principal in developing an effective, inclusive school. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 24, 51-60.
Williamson, P. & McLeskey, J. (2011). An investigation into the nature of inclusion problem solving teams. The Teacher Educator, 46, 316-344.
McLeskey, J. (2011). Supporting improved practice for special education teachers: The importance of learner centered professional development. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 24(1), 26-35.
McLeskey, J., Landers, E., Hoppey, D., & Williamson, P. (2011). Learning disabilities and the LRE mandate: An examination of national and state trends. Learning Disability Research and Practice, 26, 60-66.
McLeskey, J. & Waldron, N. (2011). Educational programs for elementary students with learning disabilities: Can they be both effective and inclusive? Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 26(1), 48-57.
McLeskey, J., Waldron, N., & Redd, L. (2011). A case study of a highly effective inclusive school. Presented at the Council for Exceptional Children Annual Convention, National Harbor, MD.
McLeskey, J. & Waldron, N. (2011). Are full inclusion programs for elementary students with LD justifiable? Presented at the Council for Exceptional Children Annual Convention, National Harbor, MD.
McLeskey, J., Hoppey, D., Waldron, N., & Redd, L. (2011). Critical features of principal leadership in a highly effective, inclusive school. . Presented at the Teacher Education Division of CEC Annual Convention, Austin, TX.
Waldron, N., & McLeskey, J. (2010). Inclusive school placements and surplus/deficit in performance for students with intellectual disabilities: Is there a connection? Life Span and Disability, XIII(1), 29-42.
Waldron, N. & McLeskey, J. (2010). Establishing a collaborative school culture through comprehensive school reform. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 20(1), 58-74.
Waldron, N. & McLeskey, J. (2010, July). Inclusion and student outcomes: Can programs be both inclusive and effective? International School Psychology Association Conference, Dublin, Ireland.
Winn, J., McLeskey, J., et al. (2009, November). Proposed standards for the advanced role of Inclusion Specialist. Teacher Education Division of CEC Conference, Charlotte, NC.
Waldron, N., & McLeskey, J. (2009, July). Developing schools that are both effective and inclusive. International Association of Special Education, Alicante, Spain.