Texas Tech University

College of Education receives $1.5M grant to train 400 Texas special educators

Robert Stein

May 7, 2020

The Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities will offer free intellectual and developmental disability dual diagnosis training across Texas using the grant from Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities.

Devender Banda
Devender Banda, principal investigator

Texas Tech University's Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities is launching Project TEDD: Training Educators in Dual Diagnosis, an initiative to address a state need for K-12 educators who specialize in teaching students who have a dual diagnosis of an intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) and a mental health condition.

Project TEDD is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). The mission of TCDD is to create change where all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. Over five years, the project will provide 400 Texas special educators with access to free "train-the-trainer" workshops, which will prepare them to train other educators with necessary skills for recognizing, understanding and working with individuals with dual diagnosis.

Stacy Carter
Stacy Carter, co-principal investigator

The 400 teachers who receive the initial training will each be expected to train at least five additional educators, totaling 2,000 or more across Texas. The first year of training will begin in November 2020 at the Region 17 Education Service Center (ESC) in Lubbock. Over the remaining four years, the focus of the project will expand the train-the-trainer workshops to the remaining 19 ESCs in Texas.

"Texas has nearly 500,000 adults and children with I/DD, and we know that individuals with I/DD experience mental health conditions at two to three times the rate of the general population," said Devender Banda, a professor of special education and the TEDD project director. "Children with a dual diagnosis face serious learning challenges and need specialized support. Project TEDD's 'train-the-trainer' approach will have an exponential impact in giving more educators the tools to effectively teach children with dual diagnosis in K-12 settings. Those who complete the training can become a resource within their respective school district or Education Service Center for several years and continue training numerous other educators."

Developmental disabilities are severe, chronic disabilities that occur before the age of 22, such as autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injury and epilepsy. A dual diagnosis refers to individuals with an I/DD who concurrently experience a mental health condition.

Nora Griffin-Shirley
Nora Griffin-Shirley, co-principal investigator

"Our faculty at the Texas Tech College of Education are committed to helping address the needs of underserved people and communities, and this program is yet another example," said Jesse Perez Mendez, dean of the College of Education. "We are pleased to offer support and resources to all regions of Texas and help give every child of every ability the opportunity to receive a quality education."

Banda is the principal investigator on the grant. Co-principal investigators are Stacy Carter, a professor of special education, and Nora Griffin-Shirley, professor and director of the Sowell Center.

Last year, Texas Tech received a separate $750,000 grant from TCDD that was used to create Project Leadership Challenge, an ongoing, intensive leadership development training program for leaders of I/DD provider organizations.