Improving special education teacher training is a priority in many U.S. districts, especially considering shrinking school budgets. This fall, 22 states received a total of $24 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education to invest in the teachers who have the biggest effect on the outcomes of students with disabilities.
Alabama received $1.2 million, a welcome boost after a $9.2 million budget cut to the state’s special ed programs in 2010. The grant mainly aims to improve professional development. “Teachers must be able to continually upgrade their skills and abilities and keep up with the latest research,” says Susan Williamson, director of the Alabama State Personnel Development Grant program, which provides the funds. “Our grant is for job-embedded, ongoing professional coaching.”
The grant will also explore online coaching, in which an expert watches the lesson via webcam, and provides ongoing real-time coaching, encouragement, or redirection through an earpiece as the teacher is engaged in the teaching process.