LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been awarded a federal grant totaling $1,201,833 from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs to train special-education teachers.
The grant, to be applied over five years, will help Bay Path fund scholarships for graduate students and help the university create and offer professional-development opportunities to faculty and teachers at partnering school districts, which include Holyoke Public Schools, Worcester Public Schools, and the Center for Applied Behavioral Instruction, based in Worcester.
“As a result of this award, 40 scholars will successfully obtain educator licenses in both Massachusetts severe disabilities and moderate disabilities, combined with a master of science degree in education. We’ll be able to support them through high-quality mentoring and supervision, both during the program and for two years after graduating,” said Kristen Lech, program director of Bay Path’s graduate program in Special Education and English as a Second Language, as well as a professor of Special Education and the project director of this initiative.
Through this project, Bay Path will prepare for accreditation from the Council of Exceptional Children, the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the success of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.
“This grant will help us increase the number of highly qualified and dually licensed diverse educators in the field of special education,” said Ellen Rustico, assistant dean of Education and Licensure Programs at Bay Path’s School of Education, Psychology & Humanities.
Bay Path is one of 41 colleges and universities nationally to receive funding through this grant competition. The grant comes at a time when Massachusetts has adjusted its licensing requirements as a means of streamlining the process by which an educator becomes qualified to teach special education.
In 2019, it was reported that 118,867 students in Massachusetts had complex or challenging special-education needs, up from 62,660 in 2004, representing the majority of the state’s entire special-education student population of nearly 174,000.