Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

C. Michael Robinson, Ed.D.

Second Supervisor

Lura Lunkenheimer, Ed.D


The shortage of teachers highly qualified to educate students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in New York State affects the education of those pupils. There is a lack of research and understanding into the perspectives of leaders of schools of education in New York State who can affect the preparation of teacher candidates. This descriptive phenomenological study examined the experiences of 10 leaders in Upstate New York departments of education on the establishment of teacher preparation programs or coursework that would ensure preservice graduates are adequately prepared to educate students with ASD. Through semi-structured interviews, the study examined education leaders’ views on the ability of current teacher programs to prepare all department graduates for the rising number of students with ASD enrolled in public schools. The study examined what impediments to providing more preparation for preservice teachers exist and what efforts can be or are being made by the department or institute of higher education to mitigate those obstructions. Results from the data indicate little support for the establishment of a baccalaureate program in autism education or the creation of an NYS teacher certification specifically in autism. Recommendations include streamlining NYS regulations on college program development at the undergraduate-level, cross-institutional, and multidisciplinary collaboration between teacher preparation programs, enhancing existing coursework on best practices in autism education, and increasing on-site internships for students pursuing study and teacher certification in special education.

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