Funded Projects

Research that shapes the future

The Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families & Schools is an interdisciplinary research center in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

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

Project Information

Principal Investigator: Malinda Eccarius
Co-Principal Investigator:
Funding Agency: USDOE/OSERS
Award Date:
Theme: N/A
Project URL: N/A

For more information please contact Malinda Eccarius at


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.

The UNL Deaf Education program is uniquely positioned to achieve the goal of MPUP-I: preparation of teachers to work in itinerant and collaborative settings with children who are deaf or hard of hearing and who have diverse needs and backgrounds. UNL has identified a need for increased itinerant emphasis in its program, because its graduates are increasingly being asked to work with students in inclusion settings, specifically children who use cochlear implants.

In collaboration with Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, UNL offers online deaf education courses that incorporate evidence-based practice and documented skill requirements, especially for content related to cochlear implants, listening and spoken language and literacy. Since 2001, UNL has graduated 59 new teachers of the deaf; 47 of these teachers were supported through two previous OSEP grants under the MPUP-I director. 65 percent of new graduates accepted itinerant positions upon program completion. Feedback from former graduates indicates a need for more practicum experience and course content related to itinerant teaching.

The proposed 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
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.