UMass Amherst College of Education faculty awarded $1.25 million grant

AMHERST, Mass. – Two professors in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have received a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to prepare the next generation of special education administrators to be culturally responsive leaders.

Professor Mary Lynn Boscardin, special education leadership and administration, is director of the program that will be implemented under the grant, “Preparing the Next Generation of Culturally Responsive Leaders of the Administration of Special Education (NextGen).” Program co-director is John Hintze, school psychology, and grant-related education faculty members include Linda Griffin, teacher education and school improvement; and Craig Wells, research, educational measurement and psychometrics.

The aim of the grant, awarded by the DOE Office of Special Education Programs, is to provide special education leaders with expertise in research and teaching – as well as in the implementation of rules, guidelines and federal laws – so the needs of all public school students with disabilities are met.

“Leaders of special education will be called upon to deliver culturally responsive programs and services that adopt scientifically based research practices,” Hintze says, adding that the goal is to “improve student outcomes and academic achievement for students with disabilities in the general and special education setting.”

The program provides funds for graduate students who want to complete a Ph.D. program in either school psychology or special education, in addition to obtaining their license as a special education administrator in Massachusetts. It is also expected to help lessen a shortage of public school special education directors, as well as qualified faculty who prepare administrators and special education leaders.

Boscardin and Hintze say they received strong support from U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, U.S. Representative James McGovern, State Senator Jo Comerford, and State Representative Mindy Domb, and UMass College of Education Dean Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin. School officials in the Amherst, Chicopee, Holyoke, Mahar, Northampton, South Hadley and Springfield public schools also collaborated on the grant.