New Program Trains Teachers for Diverse, Inclusive Classrooms
Author: Laura C. Jundt, Office of University Communications, 503-725-8555
Posted: March 23, 2007

As K-12 classrooms become more diverse and inclusive, a new program at PSU, the first of its kind in Oregon, is helping train teachers equipped to handle the broad range of needs found in these classrooms.

Graduates of the Secondary Dual Educator Program (SDEP) in the Graduate School of Education combine expertise in particular subjects like science, language, math or social studies with the skills of a learning specialist. Demand for these skills is high, resulting in flexible employment opportunities as content area teachers and as special educators at the middle and high school levels.

“The teacher who is capable in both a subject area and in special education will be prepared to serve the students and the schools,” said Robert Ford, associate principal at Vancouver (Wash.) Frontier Middle School and an adviser to the program. “This will result in higher test scores and will improve behavioral issues arising from lack of academic success.”

Inclusive classrooms operate under the belief that every student has a right to education based on equality of opportunity. They are open to all students, embracing the diversity of needs and development pace of students, and ensure that everyone learns and participates. All students, including children with special needs, are enabled to learn and participate effectively within mainstream school systems. With inclusive educational practices, the school adapts to the needs of students, rather than students adapting to the needs of the school.

“Working in a classroom with mixed ability levels gives students coming out of PSU’s program experience working with a content area teacher as well as a special education teacher,” said Pia Leonard, Gladstone (Ore.) School district director of Human Resources and Student Services, who assists in supervising the student teachers in the program. “They really have a much broader perspective in working with students with multiple needs.”

This full-time graduate-level program runs for six consecutive terms. By June 2007, the first graduates will have earned their Master of Education with a focus on teacher leadership and collaboration for responsible inclusion. Graduates can teach in both public and private schools.

For more information about the SDEP program, visit the Web site at or contact Leah Hershey at 503-725-8102 or Applications for PSU’s second year of the SDEP program for the 2007-08 school year are due September 1, 2007.

The Graduate School of Education at Portland State University
The Graduate School of Education is Oregon’s largest and most comprehensive school of education. More than half of the public school principals in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties have received licensure through Portland State, with more than 200 graduates of the doctoral program in educational leadership now holding positions of influence in educational settings throughout the region. The Graduate School of Education prepares professionals to be leaders in a variety of settings: public schools, libraries, counseling clinics, social service agencies, institutions of higher education and adult education programs.

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Nancy Eichsteadt (503-725-5577)
Continuing Education