The Commonwealth Special Education Endorsement (CSEEP) Programs are a technology-rich, innovative approach to teacher preparation in special education. Grant finishers have proven to be teachers who are well equipped to meet the diverse academic and behavioral needs of their students. At any given time, as many as 2,500 teachers hold provisional licensure in Virginia and must expediently complete the remaining course work to become fully endorsed. CSEEP has assisted over 1800 of these individuals in achieving full teaching endorsements. Additionally, our data indicate that over a ten year period, 86% of our fully licensed grant participants remain in special education, making the CSEEP programs a highly cost efficient means to meet the increasing need for fully licensed special educators.
In 1997, Old Dominion University (ODU) responded to a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) request for proposals for alternative routes to licensure by successfully designing and implementing the Commonwealth Special Education Endorsement Programs. The primary mission of these programs is to provide a readily accessible path to full licensure for the more than 2,500 provisionally licensed special education teachers across the Commonwealth and other qualified school personnel, and, in doing so, to ensure a high quality education for Virginia's children with disabilities.
The CSEEP program is designed to overcome the significant geographic, opportunity, cost, and support barriers that prevent teachers from accessing the high quality special education courses necessary to complete the requirements for full licensure. CSEEP program goals are to:
- utilize state of the art distance learning modalities that can be accessed from home, school, and community colleges to provide high quality special education courses to individuals with provisional licenses throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia;
- establish a collaborative relationship among the Commonwealth's public school systems and state operated programs; the Virginia Department of Education; Virginia Community Colleges; and Old Dominion University to facilitate endorsement for special education teachers with provisional licensure.
- integrate content knowledge, technology standards, instructional strategies, and the Virginia Standards of Learning throughout the course work, using evidence-based practices;
- evaluate all components of the project including curriculum design, course content, teacher application of knowledge and skills, and overall success in providing full endorsement for special educators;
- assess K-12 student academic and non-academic change over time in grant participants' classrooms; and
- assess teacher retention of grant participants.
As one measure of this program's success, CSEEP has won a number of state and national awards. These awards attest to the success of the CSEEP program. Specifically, CSEEP won the Southern Regional Association of Teacher Educators' Innovation in Teacher Education Award in 2013. In 2010, the Virginia Educational Research Association awarded CSEEP the Charles Clear Research Award for consistent and substantial contributions to educational research and scholarship. In February of 2007, the CSEEP program was a finalist in the Association of Teacher Educators' Distinguished Program in Teacher Education. The CSEEP program also won the American Council on Rural Special Education's Exemplary Program Award in February 2006. The American Council on Rural Special Education strives to provide leadership and support that will enhance services for individuals with exceptional needs, their families, and the professionals who work with them, and for the rural communities in which they live. In 2005, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities awarded the Christa McAuliffe Award for Teaching Excellence to the CSEEP program.
More important than these awards, the success of the program is measured by participants' actions. In a survey of program finishers, 93% rated the program components as very beneficial or somewhat beneficial and 92% reported being adequately prepared, well prepared or extremely well prepared to meet VDOE licensure competencies. To date, CSEEP has enabled over 1,800 teachers to achieve full licensure and to acquire the skills necessary to educate their students with disabilities effectively, the overwhelming majority of whom are still in the classroom.