Enhancing Professional Development for Educators: Adapting Project ECHO From Health Care to Education

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Adequately prepared educators are critical to the success of children in rural settings, but many educators receive little training on how to support students with disabilities. Professional development for educators is challenging in rural areas due to the lack of opportunities and travel requirements. Project ECHO™ was originally developed to overcome similar challenges facing physicians. The ECHO Model overcomes these challenges by creating a hub and spoke network that connects local providers with experts. These networks meet regularly over teleconferencing technology to conduct a short professional development workshop, followed by a case-study from one of the local sites. We adapted the ECHO Model for use in education and since 2014 implemented four networks: autism, assistive technology, secondary transitions, and behavioral supports. Educators found ECHO highly acceptable and reported improved skills and knowledge. ECHO for Education is effective and has the potential to improve capacity of education systems in rural settings.