Skip to main content

A Look at CEC Division for Research (CEC-DR) – As We Begin 2021

Kathleen Lane
University of Kansas

I spent New Year’s Eve safe at home with my husband, “zooming” with our children, Nathan and Katie, and their significant others. It was a genuinely happy event as I was glad they were safe in their respective homes. Yet, it was also bittersweet as I wish we could have all be together at some point during this past holiday season. Actually, I wish we could have been together in person and with our extended family members and friends at any point in 2020. But, I recognize our family has been more fortunately than many.

This past year has been an opportunity to reflect and value what was – and is – most important to us. Combing through my Instagram account on New Year’s Day, I saw many reflections and celebrations. One that struck me was a posting by my daughter who is completing her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in spring of 2021 with a major in special education and minor in quantitative methods.

katieslane For 2021 my goal is to focus on HOPE. We’ve all faced plenty of challenges, but I believe we’re all going to find a lot of joy and gratitude for things we used to take for granted in the year to come. Here are some of the things I’m hoping for this year:

  • More hugs with people I love
  • In-person family time
  • Seeing extended [family] who I’ve missed for the past year
  • Continuing to learn and grow with my love, [*]
  • Getting back to the gym
  • Dance parties with [*] and [*]
  • More traveling
  • Competing with my [*] team
  • Getting the Covid vaccine
  • Making more memories together when we can do so safely

[*] redacted

She inspires me. I concur whole heartedly … on all counts. And, to this list of “hope” for the new year. I have hope for the CEC DR community and special education researchers across the country who remain relentlessly committed to rigorous, responsible, and respectful inquiry as we determine how to better serve our students with and at-risk for exceptionalities in the months ahead. I anticipate our community will rise to the challenge of creating innovative approaches to continue moving our knowledge forward in ways that are healthy not only for our students, but for educators and families, as well as ourselves.

I, too, remain hopeful. Hopeful we will embrace a better new normal in the years ahead, benefitting from this renewed and urgent shift to determining what works, for whom, and under what conditions, during and after the COVID-19 era.  As was mentioned in our last newsletter, it is essential for CEC-DR members and other educational researchers to facilitate continued inquiry regarding evidence-based practices in the new range of instructional settings; as well as, how to best facilitate the well-being of students, educators, and family members. We are hopeful current and future CEC-DR members will come together and engage in collaborative inquiry to address this important charge with a strong commitment to understanding – and addressing –historical and structural inequities that have created gaps in educational opportunity and attainment.  This is a tall order, but an important one. As our CEC-DR members head into this new year, I urge you all to revisit the mission of your work and your programmatic lines of inquiry, and ask yourself: what commitments can I make to understanding and addressing issues of inequity?


Teachers and Brussels Sprouts

As part of this inquiry, teacher-well being and issues of retention must be addressed. Recently, I have been thinking teachers are like Brussels sprouts. Think about Brussels sprouts: they are a “healthy” food. In terms of macro nutrients, 1 serving of steamed Brussels sprouts (100 grams) features 43 calories, 3.5 g carbohydrates, 1.3 g fat, and 2.9 g protein.  Yet, about five years ago Brussels sprouts were hardly a desired food. Rarely – if ever – was this vegetable featured on a restaurant menu. The Brussels sprouts were undervalued. Yet, now, Brussels sprouts receive much attention. They are now featured appetizers, side dishes, and even entrees at a range of restaurants. In fact, Brussels sprouts are often sold out at in the frozen vegetable section of my local grocery store.

Now, think about teachers. Since March 2020, general and special education teachers shifted to work swiftly and relentlessly to provide a range of instructional opportunities for students: on-line, hybrid, and in-person. Our research team, as part of Project ENHANCE (iMTSS Network grant funded by the Institute of Education Sciences), has had the honor of collaborating with hundreds of educators across five districts and three geographic regions who used their Comprehensive, Integrated, Three-tiered (Ci3T) models of prevention to pivot to everchanging instructional settings and educational needs.  These administrators, general educators, special educators, and others are amazing. They are looking to the science – some of which does not yet exist – on how to navigate this complex situation that poses particular challenges to students requiring special education services.  Families are also struggling and looking for guidance from educators on how to support their children’s education. This past year, one parent reached out to me and said, “I don’t know what to do. I am not a teacher. I don’t know how to teach. My son needs his teacher.” 

Society is watching – and I hope appreciating in all new ways – how valuable and “healthy” teachers are for our nations’ youth, our families, and society as a whole. To function properly, a democratic society depends on an educated population. Teachers are important and valuable. We need to empower teachers with the full set of strategies, practices, and programs to meet students’ multiple needs. Empowering teachers with the resources they need and in ways that support their well-being and sense of efficacy, will hopefully mitigate burnout. Again, this is complicated. I am grateful for the educational practitioners and researchers for committing to continued inquiry in the coming years. I am hopeful together we will create a better “new normal” in our educational systems – grounded in evidence-based practices, with a healthy respect for teachers and science. Fortunately, CEC-DR members are contributing in important ways.


CEC-DR … Honoring our Exemplary Scientists

It is with gratitude and appreciation that we look forward to acknowledging the 2021 CEC Division for Research Award recipients virtually this spring at the CEC Convention.  It is an honor to recognize exemplary contributions to the field by paying tribute to the contributions of researchers at various stages in their careers.  Please come join our virtual program of awards and reception! If it were in person this year, we would be serving Brussels sprouts.

2021 CEC Division for Research Awards Recipient
Kauffman-Hallahan-Pullen Distinguished Researcher Award Patricia Snyder
Martin J. Kaufman Distinguished Early Career Research Award Nicholas Gage
Early Career Publication Award    Corey Peltier Corey Peltier

Student Research Awards

Mixed-Methods Design
Qualitative Design    
Quantitative Design    
Single-Case Design


Erica N. Mason
Matthew Vandercar
Christy Austin
Holly N. Whittenburg

More information on all of the recipients

In the meantime, please be safe, hopeful, and productive.

With respect,    
Kathleen Lynne Lane, Ph.D., BCBA-D, CF-L1
University of Kansas  
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research 

Posted:  1 January, 2021
Author: Kathleen Lane

University of Kansas

Read more from Kathleen Lane

© 2021 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). All rights reserved.