Faculty Spotlights


New faculty member: Cindy Collado, Ph.D.

Cindy Collado, Ph.D., one of 13 new faculty members at the Sacramento State College of Education this fall, teaches special education courses in the teaching credential program. This semester she is teaching Legal and Social Foundations of Special Education while also supervising student and intern teacher candidates. “I am also doing the exciting work of re-energizing the Early Childhood Special Education credential program that will start in Fall 2018,” she says.

Cindy ColladoHer interest in special education as a career began when she was in the Best Buddies program in high school. “I was paired with a peer who had a developmental disability and I remember connecting with him and his friends and laughing so much my belly hurt,” she says. That experience influenced her to major in education as an undergraduate, focusing on understanding human development and social policy.

After completing her masters and teaching certification in special education at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), she was hired as a graduate assistant in an Educational Assessment Clinic where children from the community were evaluated for learning difficulties. Her experience in the clinic continued as an adjunct instructor, teaching assessment courses for special education masters students.

“I am drawn to assessment as it is a gateway into the minds and experiences of individuals,” says Dr. Collado. “I am thrilled with opportunities to develop a deeper insight into individuals through the collection of formal and informal information, especially as it expands my understanding of the human experience. I enjoy the puzzle of understanding the underlying causes for behavior and academic performance. Then, sharing my findings with families and children is equally rewarding as they feel validated and empowered with ideas to move forward. During my work here at Sac State supervising student teachers in the schools and teaching courses in special education, I continue to enjoy my conversations with colleagues and candidates about children and ways to creatively integrate formative assessment practices into daily practice as a vehicle for developing relationships with students and insights into their ways of thinking.

Research and publication

After four years teaching preschool special education teachers in inclusion programs for the Chicago Public Schools, she returned to UIC to complete a Ph.D. in special education. Her research in an early childhood preschool center focused on preschool teachers’ formative assessment practices, which produced a collaboration with some of the teachers and the principal on ways to improve their portfolios to address the challenges they faced. As a result, she and the principal developed a professional development program using a Professional Learning Community model.  The model guided a small cohort of preschool teachers in the implementation of Learning Stories, a socio-cultural narrative assessment that takes a strengths-based approach to describe children’s approaches to learning and integrates families in the assessment process. Learning Stories use storytelling to describe a key learning moment for an individual student, emphasizing how a child approaches the learning process through problem-solving, curiosity, creativity, communication, relationships, and independence.

“It is often these approaches to learning that are absent from understandings of the child throughout the assessment process, but which is valued by early childhood teachers,” Dr. Collado says. “Once the learning moment is captured, an essential next step is sharing the learning with both the student and family. So far, we have found that reading the story with the child as the protagonist empowers the family and child, drawing them into the excitement of play-based learning in preschool.”

After a successful pilot program, the school is rolling out the Learning Stories portfolio training to all teachers at the center.

What’s exciting is that this work has been developed in collaboration with the principal at the center where I conducted my initial research in response to the findings from that study,” Dr. Collado says. “I have found that the teachers feel like their voices have been heard and that their assessment practices are aligning better with their philosophical values with regard to developmentally appropriate practices. So while this work has been challenging for them as they are changing their portfolios, it has been invaluable and they appreciate that the work is driven by them.”

See Dr. Collado’s faculty profile.

Spotlights archive