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November 16, 2011

$1.25M grant to help Warner improve education for children with disabilities

Federal grant helps tackle critical shortage of teachers in special education

The demand for more special education teachers prepared to work with students with disabilities in high-need schools has plagued American school systems for years. This is especially the case for students with significant disabilities at the high school level. A new $1.25 million grant from the United States Department of Education positions the Warner School to address the critical shortage locally by providing scholarships for aspiring and current teachers to serve and meet the needs of students with significant disabilities.

According to the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, the dropout rate for students with disabilities is approximately twice that of general education students. In New York State less than half of students with disabilities graduate from high school, and in Rochester, which has the highest number of students with significant disabilities outside of New York City, less than one-quarter of these students finish school. The five-year federal grant will fund a new Warner School initiative, known as Preparing and Retaining Highly Qualified Educators of Students with Significant Disabilities—or Project PRESS—that aims to increase the number of teachers in the Rochester region qualified to work with and improve the educational outcomes of students with significant disabilities, including opportunities for meaningful work and college.

“Students with significant disabilities deserve highly qualified teachers and a quality education,” says Julia White, principal investigator for Project PRESS and director of the inclusive/special education program at Warner. “With this grant, we will be able to prepare and retain more teachers who are committed to providing students with significant disabilities the quality education that they deserve—one that is deeply rooted in inclusive practice and social justice. Graduates of our program will be prepared to work with students in the most inclusive environment possible and provide an education that prepares them well for work and life.”

The Warner School grant is funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s $11.5 million Personnel to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities Program.

For more information about Project PRESS or the Warner School’s inclusive/special education teacher preparation program, visit www.warner.rochester.edu/inclusion, or contact admissions at 275-3950 or admissions@warner.rochester.edu.

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