Bridging Bilingual and Special Education: Opportunities for Transformative Change in Teacher Preparation Programs

Alberto M. Ochoa, Regina Brandon, Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, Pablo C. Ramírez


This article reports on the design and performance of ALAS (Acquisition of Language Skills and Academic Literacy) Teacher Education Project designed to bridge Biliteracy and Special Education teacher preparation. ALAS was designed by faculty in two higher education departments engaged in teacher preparation to respond to California’s need for bilingual special education teachers, where less than 2% of special education teachers in California are credentialed in both bilingual and special education disciplines (CBEDS, 2013). In California about 1 in 4 students are identified as English Language Learners (ELLs). The ALAS project actively addresses the lack of academic programming to develop qualified bilingual special education teachers to meet the needs of K-12 ELLs via teacher education courses, specialized conferences, teaching practicum in the two disciplines of bilingual/biliteracy and Special Education Mild-Moderate emphasis. The article reports on five years of data (2008-2013) that examines the conceptual design of the ALAS two-year teacher preparation program, the use of seven standards to evaluate the program, and participants’ perceptions on the strengths and needs of their training. The evolving results have implications for teacher preparation curriculum change and reform in addressing ELLs to match the needs of the client school communities.

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