Skip to Main Content

Concordia Steps into Major Role to Evaluate California Education Initiative

July 17, 2023 - 1 minute read

CONCORDIA’S SCHOOL OF EDUCATION was selected by the California Department of Education to conduct a major evaluation for a new statewide entity, the California Early Childhood Special Education Network (CalECSE). Concordia received a $150,000 grant to fund the effort which will also scholarship four doctoral students as researchers.

“This is a huge opportunity for Concordia,” says Dr. Belinda Karge, professor of education and the chair of the special education specialization in the Doctor of Education program. “Typically, this task would go to a private evaluation firm. For us to have the chance to do this is huge. We will be affecting policy.”

The initiative has roots in a 1975 Congressional Act which sought to make education accessible to people of all abilities. A recent federal grant extends that work deeper into the realm of special education by empowering the California Department of Education to support local schools to improve outcomes for children and families with disabilities.

Concordia’s team is led by Karge and Dr. Teresa Hess, associate professor of education and the director of student teaching, who spent 30 years in special education before coming to Concordia. Karge and Hess chose four doctoral students in Concordia’s School of Education to join the evaluation team. One is a principal in Northern California, one works in Head Start in San Diego, one works in a district office in Anaheim, and the fourth is a speech and language pathologist in a local district.

The team will conduct a statewide evaluation to assess how effectively the federal grant money is being used in the area of special education.

“We are an external evaluator who will measure outcomes and effectiveness,” says Karge. “We will analyze quantitative and qualitative data, relying heavily on focus groups, interviews, talking to families around the state, and asking if the resources provided are working for them.”

The team will canvas schools in rural, suburban, and urban parts of California, and among various socio-economic groups to see that services are available to everybody. The team’s assessments will impact the final report and how the State implements these funds and programs.

“This is a wonderful way we can be servant leaders and partner with educators and families throughout California to make sure California’s youngest children with disabilities are served,” Karge says.


Back to top