Penn State program helps teachers meet federal and state requirements

March 26, 2009

Courses provide general education teachers with evidence-based instructional methods to teach students who have disabilities or different academic needs


University Park, Pa. — The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act requires the nation's schools to ensure all students make continuous improvement in learning. Progress is measured annually, and schools that fail to make "adequate yearly progress" face NCLB-mandated corrective action. To help schools succeed, Penn State has developed a training program for general education teachers to provide them with the latest knowledge and instructional strategies to create an effective learning environment for all students, including those who have learning and other disabilities and those with different academic needs. The first course is being offered again beginning June 22.


While 74 percent of Pennsylvania's schools met adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the 2006-07 school year, according to the state’s NCLB report card, "there's always room for improvement," said James E. Barker, superintendent of Erie City School District, which achieved a 96 percent adequate yearly progress score for the 2007-08 school year.


"Without question, we can no longer be competitive economically and educationally if we aren't developing world-class learners," Barker added. "To do that, teachers need a strong evidence-based understanding of how to teach all students. It is a must for students that teachers become instructional leaders. The preparation is becoming a job prerequisite Penn State and other universities are doing" to prepare teachers to meet new NCLB and Pennsylvania Department of Education certification requirements.


Penn State's Evidence-Based Practices for Inclusive Classrooms and Differentiating Instruction (EPIC) program is designed for current classroom teachers and is approved for Pennsylvania Act 48 credits.


Lori Wiltrout, an eighth-grade math teacher at Connellsville Junior High East, said, "Teaching can be very challenging." Because of the increasing federal and state focus on preparing general education teachers to teach students who have disabilities or different academic needs, Wiltrout decided that "it would be good to get more education in this area." She found the first EPIC course valuable, "because as a regular education teacher, you don't know all the legalities involved."


Jenkintown Elementary School teacher David Seitz is seeing more children with special needs in his fifth-grade classroom, which prompted him to enroll in EPIC. Seitz said, "Not having a special education background, I only know what I've learned in workshops. The first EPIC course confirmed that some of the things I've been doing are right and showed me that I need to improve other things. The more education I get, the more I can understand my students' learning needs."


EPIC is a collaboration of the College of Education's Special Education program, Penn State Continuing and Professional Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network. Courses can be taken for credit or noncredit and are delivered via DVD-based lectures and include opportunities for online discussions.


Visit to view a video about the EPIC program or to register for the first course, or call (800) 228-1627.


Penn State Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) delivers professional development and continuing education programs to adult learners at locations across Pennsylvania. CAPE, a unit of Penn State Outreach, uses Penn State's network of 24 campuses and the University’s academic colleges to design master's, bachelor's and associate degree programs for adult learners in a wide range of fields, including business, education, engineering/technology, health and justice/government. For information, visit online. Penn State Continuing and Professional Education is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 80 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated March 27, 2009