Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a $25 million, 5-year grant to University of Florida researchers for the Collaboration for Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEDAR) Center. The Center hopes to use current research to improve training and evaluation practices for special education teachers.

The third center of its kind for UF, the CEDAR Center works with the education systems of 5 states and a number of non-profit groups (especially the American Institutes for Research) to develop standards that agree with up-to-date research on special education. It also provides technical assistance and supplies for the teachers involved.

“Our goal is to ensure that all teachers entering the classroom can meet standards and are receiving the right support,” said Dr. Mary Brownell, a  lead researcher for the CEDAR Center and a professor of special education in UF’s College of Education.

Brownell also said that while the focus is on special educators, general education teachers will also benefit from it.

At a time when our education system is under fire for poor performance levels, it’s important that the most recent research be applied to all levels of of our schools. Not only to improve scores, but also to genuinely educate a section of our populace that is often ignored.