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December 8, 2006

WSU plans endorsement program

From: - Portland,OR,USA - Dec 8, 2006

The Oregonian

VANCOUVER -- Washington State University Vancouver is putting together the first program in the state for teachers wanting to earn a newly required endorsement to teach deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

The three-term program is expected to begin in summer 2008, three years after the state Legislature passed a bill requiring the additional teacher training. Previously, only a special education degree was required.

The goal of the endorsement program is to ensure the quality of education for deaf and hard-of-hearing students is equal to that for hearing students, according to the legislation, Substitute House Bill 1893, passed in April 2005. Teachers who are "sensitive to the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students" are better able to provide appropriate strategies to help them learn, the bill said.

"Certainly there's a shortage of qualified teachers to provide services to deaf and hard-of-hearing children," said Todd Reeves, superintendent of the Washington School for the Deaf in Vancouver.

Reeves said "it makes sense" that WSU Vancouver offer the program, which will be open to those who already have elementary or secondary teaching credentials. Participants could spend their internship in large school districts, with Education Service District 112, which contracts with small districts for various services, or the state school, where instructors now are required to have master's degrees in deaf education or the equivalent.

The WSU Vancouver program would cover such topics as the psychological and educational aspects of hearing loss; how technology can help students learn; language and speech development in deaf children; and various teaching strategies.

State Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, chairwoman of the House Higher Education Committee, said she and two colleagues introduced the bill after a review of the School for the Deaf in the early 2000s found some instructors were not certified.

©2007 The Oregonian