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New Chief Named to Run Special Education Research Center

The National Center for Special Education Research now has its second director. Deborah Speece, a 27-year special education professor at the College of Education at the University of Maryland, was named to the post this week.

"Scientists who claim special education as their field of study are among the finest scholars in the country and I am eager to work with them, the special education community, and our colleagues in sister disciplines who are interested in addressing the challenges faced by children and youth with disabilities, their families, and their teachers," Ms. Speece said in a statement.

The National Center for Special Education Research, or NCSER, is under the umbrella of the Institute of Education Sciences. It was established in 2004, when the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was reauthorized. NCSER's mission is to explore how to best design instruction to meet the needs of each child with a disability.

Aside from her work at the University of Maryland, Ms. Speece's experience includes her work as co-editor of Learning Disabilities Research & Practice and associate editor of the American Educational Research Journal. She also worked on NCSER's Technical Working Group for the Evaluation of Response to Intervention Strategies in Elementary Reading. She taught students with learning and behavioral disabilities in Ohio public schools.

Edward J. Kame'enui, the first commissioner of NCSER, is now a professor at the University of Oregon. He served from 2005 to 2007. Since his departure, Lynn Okagaki, who is also head of the National Center for Education Research, had filled on an interim basis. Ms. Speece's appointment is for six years.

Bryan Cook, a special education professor at the University of Hawaii, praised her appointment.

"Dr. Speece has experience as a public school special education teacher, is widely respected for her high quality research in areas such as language and reading intervention for students with disabilities, and has managed successfully numerous federal grants," he told SpedPro. "With the reauthorization of IDEA and [the Elementary and Secondary Education Act] looming, as well as the threat of serious budget limitations, we'll need a devoted special educator advocating for the continued importance of special education research."

For more on the appointment, read the Inside School Research blog.

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