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Mountain-Prairie Upgrade Partnership-Itinerant (MPUP-I)

Research Team

Principal Investigator: Malinda Eccarius

Funding Information

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Education—Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)

Award Date: Jan 1, 2011

End Date: Jun 30, 2017


The need for teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing to serve as itinerant teachers and consultants is approaching crisis proportions in the U.S. Several trends contribute, including: 

  1. Larger proportions of K-12 students who are deaf or hard of hearing are moving from self-contained educational placements to inclusion settings annually.
  2. Profoundly deaf children who received cochlear implants in infancy are now entering the primary grades.
  3. Many teachers of the deaf are nearing retirement age.
  4. Teacher preparation programs are not preparing professionals to emphasize listening and spoken-language development, collaborate with related service providers or to work effectively with classroom teachers, families with diverse backgrounds and students with more than one disability. 
Nationwide, only 17 percent of practicing itinerant teachers reported they had received college preparation for their itinerant teaching responsibilities. The need is especially high in rural communities; however, administrators in rural districts report difficulty recruiting and retaining itinerant teachers of the deaf. An effective solution is to offer teachers who live and work in rural districts a deaf education endorsement via online courses without leaving family and current jobs. 

The purpose of the MPUP-I program is to prepare 25 non-traditional students (i.e., current teachers in rural communities) to provide a vital service to their districts by working as itinerant teachers and consultants in rural communities for K-12 students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Total annual funding designated for student support is 65 percent.

This project is designed to respond to the high need for itinerant teachers and consultants for deaf students by increasing the number of trained personnel in states where documented shortages of itinerant teachers exist. 

Each of the 25 students in MPUP-I will complete:

  1. Three courses in disability areas such as autism and visual impairment, which are all available online and taught by distinguished faculty
  2. A yearlong, mentored seminar in itinerant teaching
  3. An online course in itinerant and consultative skills
  4. A teaching endorsement in deaf education
  5. Project participants may also earn a master’s degree in special education. The MPUP-I will include a rigorous outcomes-based evaluation generating formative and summative information on key project components (i.e., rubric development, participant outcomes) throughout the duration of the project.

Academic Intervention & Learning, Social, Emotional and Behavioral Well-being

Malinda Eccarius is working toward improving deaf education throughout Midwestern schools.
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