Abstract of Project
Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education
The Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, or COPSSE, is supported
by a cooperative agreement between the U. S. Department of Education, Office of
Special Education Programs (OSEP), and the University of Florida. The Center is
directed by Drs. Paul Sindelar and Mary Brownell.
In addition to Drs. Sindelar and Brownell, scholars from UF, Johns Hopkins
University, and Vanderbilt University contributed to the project's Phase I agenda.
Ten teacher education research syntheses were written, and, with the assistance of
a Research Design Panel (RDP), these syntheses were used to develop a research
agenda in special education personnel preparation. In Phase I, we also solicited
syntheses of research in 10 related service disciplines and will conduct a design
panel with these authors in February.
RDP members represented the essential disciplines of teacher education research:
special education teacher educators and policy experts, teacher education content
specialists, and quantitative and qualitative methodologists. They helped identify
four guiding questions for our research, presented below ranked by importance and
>What characterizes efficient and effective practice in initial preparation as
measured by beginning teacher quality and retention?
>How do school and district context influence beginning teacher quality and
>How does state policy context affect the shortage of qualified special education
>How does policy context affect the content and process of teacher education?
In Phase II, in collaboration with colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, the
University of Colorado at Boulder, and the Instructional Research Group of Long
Beach, California, we will conduct research drawn from these guiding questions.
Our initial work will focus on validating measures of beginning teacher quality
using measures of student performance as criteria. Next year, we will use these
measures in studies of initial preparation with a larger sample of beginning
teachers. By doing so, we hope to identify teacher preparation practices associated
with beginning teacher competence as well as improved student outcomes. We
also are planning a study of the cost effectiveness of training options.