By Rea Hodge–
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $1.2 million grant to the University of Louisville to train doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in Response To Intervention.
RTI is a teaching model designed to circumvent academic and behavioral problems in high-needs students.
Researchers Terry Scott and Amy Lingo in the special education department of U of L’s College of Education and Human Development, are both nationally recognized experts in the areas of learning and behavior disabilities and learning outcomes, and will lead the project.
The training model relies on early assessment of learning disabilities in students, combined with frequent intervention via teacher-customized academic programs.
“The key to this grant is having Ph.D. students attached to high-needs schools, (defined as high level of poverty and history of failures),” Scott said in an e-mail communication with The Louisville Cardinal. “The students involved in this project will study learning and behavior disorders and also spend time in high need Jefferson County Public schools every week to work with teachers and students to do research that will become the foundation for an eventual dissertation.”
Scott said he is not aware of any other grants of this size in the area of special education.
“The Feds told us that they had no record of the U of L ever receiving this particular ‹Leadership› grant and we were one of 18 national recipients out of more than 300 applicants,” Scott said.
Senior math major, Daniel Coffman, said he has seen friends struggle with the effects of disabilities such as Asperger›s syndrome.
“Any grant for U of L is great news, but this grant seems like it could be helpful for people with those type of problems,” Coffman said. “Those methods seem like a really good idea.”
The grant provides funding to train eight doctoral students and five postdoctoral fellows over a five-year period, according a U of L news release.
According to Scott, the students and fellows have not been selected, but he and Lingo “are currently beginning a recruiting period and expect to have a full initial cohort of four students beginning in the fall. The focus is on training people to be professors of Special Education with a focus on students with learning and behavior disorders.”
Scott said they are looking for people with a master’s degree in education or related field, experience as a teacher or other experience working with students with learning disorders and the ability to attend school full-time for two to three years.
“We expect this to be competitive as the grant pays full tuition/fees, a monthly living stipend of $1500, and national conference travel funds,” Scott said.