A Professional Development School Innovation: A University’s Response to Special Education Teacher Shortages


  • Mary C. Esposito
  • Shirley Lal
  • Dawn Berlin


 This study examined the effectiveness of the application of the Professional Development School (PDS) Model (Holmes Group, 1986), to an alternative special education (SPED) credential program designed to prepare SPED teachers (for culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse urban K-12 schools and to ease SPED teachers shortages within our university’s service area. Results indicate the majority of candidates felt effectively prepared to meet the needs of their students, as evidenced by scores obtained on exit surveys which fell within the top two categories (effective and very effective) in two broad areas; Pedagogy (77%) and Classroom Environment (79%). This study sought to assess the extent to which the California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) SPED PDS effectively prepares candidates to meet the needs of their multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, economically poor SPED students and to add to the existing PDS and alternative certification literature, specifically in the context of SPED teacher preparation. In doing so, this study demonstrates the viability of the CSUDH SPED PDS to increase both quantity and quality of SPED teachers and thus ease severe teacher shortages across the nation.