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President’s Message: Coming Together as a Special Education Community

Wendy Oaks PhD

We have welcomed in another new year – and with it all of the promise and opportunity it holds. Special education researchers’ contributions to the advancement of knowledge and impact on practice drive that promise and opportunity of the most effective instruction, services, and supports to improve outcomes of individuals with and at risk for disabilities, their families, and their educators. It is also nearing the time of year that we come together as a special education community to share, network, and collaborate at the annual Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Convention & Expo. Again, this year, there are two ways to participate in the special education community – in person March 1st-4th in the beautiful city of Louisville, KY, as well as remotely beginning April 25th through the virtual convention event offering live and on-demand opportunities. Please see for details and registration. We hope you can take advantage of one or both of these opportunities.

The Division for Research (DR) convention program sessions will share the most current advancements in science with sessions focused on: Integrated-Multitiered System of Supports (i-MTSS) Network led by Dr. Michael Coyne, three sessions that share high quality mathematics instruction for students with disabilities facilitated by Dr. Paul Riccomini, findings from a recent meta-analysis of Orton Gillingham interventions led by Dr. Elizabeth Stevens, academic and behavioral impacts of students with disabilities – post pandemic recovery led by Dr. Sarah Hurwitz, and three sessions that address advancing educational equity for students with disabilities facilitated by Dr. Diane Ryndak. This year CEC-DR highlights also include the Showcase session, presented by Dr. Jessica Toste on the topic of graph interpretation for intensive intervention, and the 2022 Martin J. Kaufman Distinguished Early Career Research Award recipient session, led by Dr. Robin Ennis on the topic of students with emotional and behavioral disorders in special education research.

Continuing in this year’s themes of networking and collaboration, we invite you to attend the CEC-DR business meeting where the DR Doctoral Student Scholars will be recognized by Dr. Jean B. Crockett, Dr. Mary Theresa Kiely, and Dr. Kristen M. O’Brien who led this program. To learn more about this program that brings together an outstanding group of doctoral student scholars with distinguished researchers in the field, visit the CEC-DR website (Professional Development).

A highlight of the annual convention is the opportunity to recognize special education researchers for their exceptional contributions to the advancement of knowledge. Five student research awards will be presented at the CEC-DR business meeting and six professional awards will be presented at the CEC-DR reception. Two prestigious awards – Distinguished Research Award for Underrepresented Groups and Research Improving the Educational Access, Experiences, and Outcomes of the BIOPIC Students – will be presented for the first time in 2023. A special thank you to Dr. Erica McCray, Chair of the Awards Committee, and the awards committee members for making these very difficult decisions. Please visit the CEC-DR website to learn more about these award winners. I am certain you will be inspired and encouraged by their contributions.

In closing, we cannot think of all the advancements in special education research and the impact of educational practices without also acknowledging the commitment and investments by the many funding agencies, private foundations, and university internal award programs. This year, in particular, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) who, as we were ringing in the new year, was transitioning into new leadership with the retirement of Dr. Joan McLaughlin, the longest serving Commissioner. She has been a mindful steward of NCSER programs with unwavering high-standards and a classically professional and approachable style garnering the respect of all who have the fortunate opportunity to know her. CEC-DR looks forward to welcoming the next NCSER Commission as the research to improve outcomes for individuals with and at risk for disabilities, their families, and their educators continues.  Happy and Healthy 2023 to all!

Posted:  1 February, 2023
Wendy Oaks PhD
Author: Wendy Oakes, PhD

President of CEC DR Arizona State University

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