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 (CGU), 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; being a fellow in the International Association for Research in Learning Disabilities; and the recipient of two distinguished alumni awards, one from Pitzer College and the other from the University of Washington’s College of Education. Since 1983, Smith has served on the board of trustees for Pitzer College, and was recognized as a life trustee in 2003.

Smith has directed many federal, state, and local projects and has received over $40.6 million in external funding to support those efforts. Most recently, she co-directed the (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 2020 alone, over 95% (n=984) of all colleges and universities with state-approved special education and general education teacher preparation programs used IRIS resources in their curriculum, with 78% (n=368) of colleges and universities approved by their states to offer only general education preparation programs. 2.8 million visitors used the Center’s Website, an increase of 19% over the previous calendar year. In addition, the Center’s website is currently used in 218 countries worldwide.

From 2007 to 2011, Smith served as the principal investigator of 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 special education faculty shortage.  Its results remain the primary source of information about the supply and demand of these teacher-educators.

Smith has authored 20 textbooks. In 2019, Sage published the second edition of Teaching Students with Special Needs in Inclusive Classrooms. Contemporary Special Education: New Horizons 2e was released by Pearson Publishing in 2018. The popular Introduction to Special Education: Making a Difference is in its 7th edition and is available in Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese. Smith has written over 30 chapters and book supplements, over 60 refereed articles and reports, as well as many instructional materials for children.

Smith has presented at many international conferences, including most recently the Building Bridges Conference IV held virtually in Slovenia, hosted by the faculty of education of the University of Ljubljana and UNLV; Building Bridges Conference III held 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.

“Introducing the IRIS Center and Its Resources for College Instruction about Evidence-Based Practices.” In Proceedings of the Building Bridges IV Conference on Special Education, edited by R. Boone and K. Higgins, 167-75. 2020.

Co-authored with Randall Boone and Kyle Higgins. “Learn from the situation and move forward:  A talk with Deborah Deutsch Smith.” Intervention in School and Clinic, (2019): 1-5.

Co-authored with Diane Pedrotty Bryant and Bryan Bryant. Teaching students with special needs in inclusive classrooms, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2019.

Co-authored with Naomi Chowdhuri Tyler and Kimberly Skow. Introduction to Contemporary Special Education: New Horizons, 2nd edition. New York: 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, et al. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017.

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