Preparing Secondary Educators for an Inclusive Classroom

Portland State University’s Graduate School of Education offers a unique, two-year, full-time master’s degree in secondary dual education. In 2014, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Department of Special Education joined together to meet the need of the surrounding communities to increase the number of teachers who are skilled in effective practices for a variety of students. Graduates of the program are equipped to implement inclusive and equitable practices.

“The secondary dual education program in the Graduate School of Education really represents, I think, innovation, collaboration, and equity and inclusion at its highest levels,” says Marvin Lynn, dean of the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University. This particular program was born out of need to ensure all teachers are meeting the needs of all students in the classroom. The emphasis on diversity and equity is part of the Graduate School of Education’s strategic mission as an access university.

Portland State University is the most diverse institution of higher learning in the State of Oregon. The Graduate School of Education, in particular, has a large non-traditional student population. Many students are from other countries and have a lot of world experience. Lynn views this as an asset for the secondary dual education program.

Recruitment can be a challenge as the program requires a full-time commitment for two years. But at the same time, Susan Bert, assistant professor of practice for special education, believes this program attracts individuals who are deeply committed and passionate about both teaching and inclusive education. Moreover, this program prepares high quality special education teachers that districts are looking for when hiring special education teachers. Anna Capacci, a special education teacher at Evergreen High School, claims that graduates from the secondary dual educator program are highly sought out by school districts for not only their instructional expertise but also because they are able to be part of the culture shift that is deeply needed in schools to be more inclusive.

Check out the video highlighting Portland State’s unique Secondary Dual Educator Program, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.

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