Portrait of Deborah Smith
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  • Degrees
    EdD, University of Washington
    MEd, University of Missouri, Columbia
    Teacher Education, California State University, Northridge
    BA, Pitzer College
  • Research Interests
    Special education, Special education faculty, Disability policy, Learning disabilities, Cross-cultural and inclusive education

Deborah Deutsch Smith, professor emerita in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University, remains an active consultant to several federal projects. She has received numerous recognitions of her work. Such awards include: the Pearson/International Council for Exceptional Children’s Excellence in Teacher Education Award, a fellowship in the International Association for Research in Learning Disabilities, and distinguished alumni awards from Pitzer College and the University of Washington’s College of Education. Since 1983, Smith has served on Pitzer College’s Board of Trustees, and she has been a life trustee in 2003.

Smith has directed many federal, state, and local projects, receiving more than $40.6 million in external funding to support those efforts. Most recently she co-directed the IRIS Center for Coursework and Training Resources (U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs [OSEP]; Project Number H325E120002). The IRIS Center continues to be charged with providing the nation’s college faculty, professional development providers, and independent learners with interactive modules and other instructional materials about effective practices that improve results of all children and youth who struggle to learn, particularly those with disabilities.

In 2017 alone, over 92 percent of all colleges and universities with state-approved special education and general education teacher preparation programs used IRIS resources in their curriculum; 2.1 million visitors used the center’s website with an average duration of 14 minutes, accessing over eight content pages during each visit. The center’s website has been used in 233 countries worldwide and is one of only two United States-based centers featured by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education and UNESCO: Inclusive Education in Action: Empowering Teachers: Empowering Learners.

From 2007 to 2011, Smith served as the principal investigator of the Special Education Faculty Needs Assessment (SEFNA) project, which was a follow-up and expansion of her 2001 Vanderbilt Faculty Shortage Study. The four-year SEFNA study funded by OSEP to CGU determined that the nation does not have the capacity to prepare a sufficient number of new, highly effective teachers to work with students with disabilities because of a shortage of special-education faculty. Its results remain the primary source of information about the supply and demand of these teacher educators.

She has authored 19 textbooks, including Teaching Students with Special Needs in Inclusive Classrooms and Contemporary Special Education: New Horizons 2e (Pearson Publishing). The popular Introduction to Special Education: Making a Difference is in its seventh edition and is available in Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese. She has written over 31 chapters and book supplements, and more than 60 refereed articles and reports, as well as many instructional materials for children.

Smith has presented at many international conferences, including the Building Bridges Conference in Belize, hosted by the Ministry of Education and UNLV; and the Teacher Education and the Changing Demographics of Schooling, Seminar Series at the University of Edinburgh. She also continues to present at the Council for Exceptional Children’s Teacher Education Division’s national conferences.

Co-authored with Naomi Chowdhuri Tyler and Kimberly Skow. Introduction to Contemporary Special Education: New Horizons 2nd ed. New York, NY: Pearson, 2018.

Co-authored with Naomi Chowdhuri Tyler and Kimberly Skow. Introduction to Contemporary Special Education: New Horizons 2nd ed., a Revel interactive e-text. New York, NY: Pearson, 2018.

Co-authored with Naomi Chowdhuri Tyler. “Online resources for today’s teachers.” In Conference proceedings: Building bridges III, edited by Randall Boone and Kyle Higgins. Belize and Las Vegas: Belize Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 2018.

Co-authored with Naomi Chowdhuri Tyler, et al. “The IRIS Center: A federal investment to support and improve personnel.” In Redesigning Special Education Teacher Preparation: Challenges and Solutions, edited by Jennifer L. Goeke, Katherine J. Mitchem, and Kalie R. Kossar. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017.

Co-authored with Diane P. Bryant and Brian R. Bryant. Teaching Students with Special Needs in Inclusive Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishing, 2016.

Co-authored with Bianca Elizabeth Montrosse. “Special Education Doctoral Programs: A 10-Year Comparison of the Suppliers of Leadership Personnel.” TESE 35, no. 2 (2012): 101–13.

Special Education Trends, Issues, & Policy Development
Disability in Schools & Society