Project Information

T

he ACCEPT (Advancing Community College Efforts in Paraprofessional Training) Project is a federally-funded cooperative agreement between the U. S. Department of Education and the Cato College of Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte). The focus of this effort is the inclusion of special education content in the coursework and experiences provided within the associate degree program in early childhood education at targeted state-supported community colleges in North Carolina. Planning and continuing activities include:

    (a) infusing early intervention and early childhood special education content across multiple courses;
    (b) providing an appropriate number of quality practicum contact hours with children with disabilities and their families;
    (c) ensuring graduates are aware of recommended and evidence-based practices;
    (d) expanding to community colleges with differing demographics; and,
    (e) making available the curriculum content, resources, and technical assistance to other colleges as requested and needed.

The foundation for the initial development of the infused curriculum was the current Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree program in Early Childhood Education offered through Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC). Specialists in Educational Leadership and Special Education and Child Development at UNC Charlotte collaborated with CPCC program faculty members to merge ideas, concepts, and content from the field of special education into existing early childhood education coursework.

The areas of focus included, but were not limited to, family-centered practices, teaming and collaboration, child and family assessment and evaluation, the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), the development and implementation of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP), instructional practices and teaching methods, and natural environment and inclusive practices.  Professional development for effective implementation of redesigned coursework was delivered to the faculty of CPCC to support program infusion.

At the conclusion of Year 1, CPCC had redesigned selected coursework leading to the AAS in early childhood education with a focus on paraprofessional early childhood special education. In Year 2, full-time and adjunct faculty fully implemented enhanced and infused coursework and practica, impacting the early childhood workforce in North Carolina by improving paraprofessional skills in teaching children with special needs. Following successful completion of planned activities with CPCC, the project expanded to collaborate with professionals at Mitchell Community College, Gaston College, and Stanly Community College.

[Project Vita]