College of Education / Teaching Research Institute

WOU Awarded $1,000,000 to Prepare Early Childhood Professionals

The U.S. Office of Special Education Programs awarded $1,000,000 to the Teaching Research Institute (TRI) and the College of Education at Western Oregon University to provide support for early childhood educators to obtain bachelor’s degrees.  Promoting Inclusion in Early Childhood Education (PIECE) will assist 45 childhood educators in obtaining a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education with a special endorsement in early intervention/early childhood special education (EI/ECSE).

“Project PIECE will not only help culturally diverse groups of childcare professionals obtain a bachelor’s degree, but will also help meet the growing needs of children with disabilities to be included in settings with typically developing children,” noted Dr. Patti Blasco, co-director of the project.  “Forty percent of Oregon children, birth to age five, are considered at risk.  This program will help early childhood professionals meet the growing need.”

“WOU’s blended early childhood education/early intervention/early childhood special education program supports Oregon’s 40/40/20 goal by increasing the number of students completing a four-year degree.  We also know that early intervention is critical for children with special needs and results in improved school outcomes,” commented Dr. Cindy Ryan, co-director of the project.

This combined early intervention and early childhood project will draw scholars from Head Start, Migrant Head Start, relief nurseries, and community college programs in rural and urban areas.  These scholars will be connected to others in the state as leaders and collaborators with similar skills and abilities strengthening the field and serving young children with and without disabilities and their families.  The program will launch in the Fall at WOU.

WOU’s College of Education prepares skilled professionals in the fields of education, rehabilitation, sign language interpreting, health promotion and exercise science.  Accredited through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education (CCIE), and the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC), WOU’s COE graduates are sought after by districts throughout the State and the Northwest.  The College of Education was the sole 2010 recipient of the Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education awarded by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).  The award recognizes exemplary models of teacher preparation that link professional training to pupil outcomes.

WOU’s Teaching Research Institute houses seven Centers focused on informing and facilitating change in educational and human service systems to improve the quality of life for all individuals.  Funded through external grants, the Centers conduct programs of research, develop evidence-based interventions that are provided through technical assistance and professional development, and increase system capacity to effect change.  TRI has over a 50-year history of research and provision of technical assistance and training.

For more information contact:
Dr. Patti Blasco (; 503-838-8783)
Dr. Cindy Ryan (; 503-838-8605)

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