Arkansas was recently selected to receive targeted services from the National Center for Special Education Personnel and Related Service Providers (Personnel Center), a federally-funded project at the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE).
The ongoing demand for highly qualified special educators is a complex problem, requiring the collaboration of multiple players, resources, and approaches. To this end, the Personnel Center will be providing direct, on-site, technical assistance to Arkansas in the areas of personnel recruitment, preparation and retention for services to infants, young children and youth with disabilities. These services include:
1. facilitation of the statewide personnel development strategic action plan for recruitment, preparation and retention, as well as, planning for personnel data management;
2. media products with public relations support statewide; and
3. community-based recruitment campaign training for local school district teams, with support for implementation at the community level.
The statewide personnel development planning will include comprehensive personnel needs assessment, identification of barriers to personnel development in Arkansas, development of strategies for overcoming the barriers and strategic planning to garner state resources. The Personnel Center will help to carefully assess the state and local programs’ resources to support various strategies.
Media products, such as Public Service Announcements and a recruitment video targeted at high school and college age students are available to secondary schools statewide, along with brochures that provide information on special education careers, financial aid opportunities and programs that prepare personnel in the state. These materials will be supported by the services of a public relations professional, who will oversee their distribution state-wide.
Using a grass-roots approach to developing community-based recruitment campaigns, Vincent Watkins, a national expert in the field, will train teams to utilize community leaders (and followers) to bring more persons from diverse backgrounds into the field of special education professions.
Superintendents will be receiving a letter of invitation and team registration packet to attend the community-based recruitment training being offered on January 17, 2007. Each participant will be provided a training manual that may be used to further the understanding of the processes necessary to plan, implement and evaluate a district’s recruitment campaign.
The goal is to provide resources to assist public education agencies in recruiting, preparing and retaining highly qualified special educators and early intervention and related services personnel for Arkansas schools. These services will enable the Arkansas Department of Education to better assist local districts and personnel preparation programs in successfully fulfilling federal and state requirements for a highly qualified workforce.