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DCOE CSEEP Program Wins Innovation in Education Award

Group shotleft to right: Dr. Steve Tonelson, Dr. Cheryl Baker, Tracy Murray, Dr. Ann Maydosz, Jackie Royster, Dr. Robert Gable

In October 2013, the Commonwealth Special Education Endorsement Program (CSEEP) at Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education was presented with the Southern Regional Association of Teacher Educators 2013 Innovation in Teacher Education Award. This award was established to recognize and honor outstanding teacher education programs that have developed innovative approaches to teacher preparation.

CSEEP's was awarded this honor as a result of the program's effectiveness in preparing special educators to meet the needs of Virginia's students with disabilities by using evidence based practices, technology, and comprehensive assessment. Initiated in 1998 by Drs. Steve Tonelson, Robert Gable, Cheryl Baker, and Jane Hager, the Commonwealth Special Education Endorsement Program was created to address the shortage of special educators in Virginia and continues, with the addition of Dr. Ann Maydosz as Associate Director, to increase the likelihood that Virginia's students with disabilities will achieve academic gains.

The need for the Commonwealth Special Education Endorsement Program is clear.

Each day in Virginia's schools, more than 20,000 students with disabilities are taught by over 2,500 educators who have minimal preparation for the challenges they face. At issue is the need for highly qualified and fully licensed special education teachers, a need which is expanding at a faster rate than the capacity of traditional teacher preparation programs to respond. CSEEP utilizes distance learning technologies in collaboration with partners across Virginia to provide a readily accessible path to evidence-based coursework and full licensure for Virginia's over 3000 provisionally-licensed special education teachers, ensuring a high-quality education for Virginia's students with disabilities.

"The impact of this program is evident, and it is encouraging to know that what we do is seen as vital," says Dr. Stephen W. Tonelson, CSEEP program director and Professor of Special Education and Early Childhood Education at Old Dominion University. To date the technology-rich and innovative program has over 1600 highly effective program finishers.

The program is funded by the Virginia Department of Education, and additional program partners include Virginia's public school systems and state-operated programs as well as Virginia's Community College System. The Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators is a regional professional organization affiliated with the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE). Its purpose is to improve teacher education in the southeastern United States and throughout the nation by its affiliation with the ATE. Member states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

For additional information on the program, contact CSEEP at cseep@odu.edu or 757-683-5372.