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Preparing Special Educators for Family-School Partnerships

It’s essential for teachers and schools to partner with families, especially for the benefit of students with disabilities. While the American education system has long recognized the value of family-school partnerships in research and policy, researchers have highlighted a gap in the expectations and practice of teacher preparation programs.

Kathleen Kyzar, Ph.D.

Kathleen Kyzar and researchers from the University of Northern Colorado, George Mason University and the University of Vermont designed the first survey to their knowledge to specifically examine special education teacher preparation for Family Professional-Partnerships (FPP).

The authors surveyed 113 special education faculty at 52 institutions to determine how teacher preparation programs actually address FPP in their curricula, publishing findings in the journal Teacher Education and Special Education, published by the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children. The survey showed that more than 96 percent of participants agreed that FPP would be a key responsibility for their teacher candidates, however, only about 55 percent were satisfied with the content in the special educator preparation programs at their institutions. The team has already begun data collection for their next study.

“A question left unanswered by this study was the extent to which the faculty members’ definitions and philosophies about FPP align with current research,” Kyzar said. “The ways in which university faculty make sense of FPP will influence the learning outcomes of teacher candidates.”

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