UTA aims to meet demand in special education

UTA project will prepare educators for teaching students with disabilities

Monday, Feb 05, 2024 • Cristal Gonzalez : contact

College of Education

The University of Texas at Arlington's College of Education received a new federal grant that will equip future teachers with the expertise to support students who have disabilities and high-intensity needs.

According to a Texas Education Agency 2022 report, around 11.6% of students in Texas public schools receive special education services. With teacher shortages continuing to rise, the demand for special education teachers is greater than ever.

UTA special education Associate Professor Ambra Green and Assistant Professor John Romig are working to help meet that demand with Project R.E.A.D.Y.–Initial Certification (IC), a program to prepare early intervention and special education personnel for careers serving children with disabilities who have high-intensity needs. Their work is funded through a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the Office of Special Education Programs that will provide six students per year with nearly 100% coverage of in-state Texas resident tuition, fees and auxiliary expenses for additional costs like textbooks, children's daycare and housing.

“Special education in Texas—across the world, really—is struggling to find teachers who are prepared to teach students with various academic and behavioral needs,” Green said. “This grant will help us give future teachers research-based training that will lead them to deliver the scientifically based instruction students with disabilities need to be successful.”

In the last five years, UTA’s special education program has graduated a total of 27 students; there are currently 30 set to graduate by May 2024. Across the College of Education, pass rates for the state’s Content Exams and Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities Exams are 93% and 94%, respectively.

Project R.E.A.D.Y.-IC is open to students pursuing bachelor’s or master’s degrees in special education. In addition to receiving training to serve in special education classrooms, scholars will have unique learning opportunities, such as one-on-one mentoring from UTA special education faculty, the ability to attend leadership academies, and the chance to participate in research or the Texas Council for Exceptional Children (TCEC) Maverick chapter.

“This grant sets up scholars for leadership positions in the future,” Romig said. “I look at these scholars as being especially trained for leadership and able to lead their department three to five years into their teaching careers. Students will have early opportunities to get involved in research and leadership through our TCEC chapter—opportunities that are not common in other preparation programs.”

Students interested in applying for the master’s program in special education must apply by March 1 to be considered for the fall 2024 cohort. Undergraduate applications will open later in 2024. Visit the Project R.E.A.D.Y-IC website for more information.