Project Overview

Project Prepare

Project Prepare (full title: Preparation and Retention of Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education Personnel: Preparing for Evidence-Based Practice in High Need Early Childhood Settings) was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, beginning on January 1, 2015. Over the next five years, 59 students from five cohorts of the Unified Early Childhood (UEC) program at the University of Florida were awarded funding to pay the tuition for their master’s degree. The UEC program at UF begins during junior year and includes a fifth-year master’s degree as well as state licensure in early childhood education and early childhood special education. Project Prepare added an emphasis on evidence-based practice. All syllabi were revised to include the Recommended Practices identified by the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children professional organization (DEC, 2014).

In addition, a project was added to the internship semester requiring students to apply the Five-Step Learning Cycle (Buysee, Winton, Rous Epstein and Lim, 2012), a knowledge utilization strategy for addressing a challenge in the classroom. The content of five courses in the UEC program was revised to include information relative to the preparation of students to work in high-need communities. Following completion of the program, the transfer of learning into practice was facilitated during the first year of teaching for each cohort through a combination of mentoring and peer group support across the year. During five years of funding, Project Prepare recruited and supported 59 students during their master’s degree. All students who were funded through the project successfully completed the program and obtained teaching licensure in early childhood education and early childhood special education. Project Prepare ended on January 1, 2021.

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