Skip to main content
100th anniversary logo

Note: The following is a listing of 100 happenings during CEC’s first 100 years as an organization. It is not an exhaustive list, nor it fully in inclusive of all happenings. It is anticipated that CEC members and units will add to this listing, make any corrections needed, and continue to develop a robust history of the many facets of CEC as a vibrant and dynamic network dedicated to improving student outcomes and professional practice.

100 Happenings From CEC’s First 100 Years … A Beginning

1922 The International Council for the Education of Exceptional Children is organized by a group of administrators and supervisors attending the summer session at Teachers College, Columbia University, and their faculty members on August 10, 1922. The Council begins with 12 members. Elizabeth E. Farrell was the Founder and first President, 1922-26.
1922 CEC proclaims the establishment of professional standards for the field of special education as a fundamental aim of CEC. 
1923 Chapters were developed and all dues collected went to CEC. 
1924 Affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA) 
1937 First CEC staff employed as “membership secretary” on part-time basis.
1942 Journal of Exceptional Children (renamed Exceptional Children in 1951) becomes property of CEC.
1947 Governance authorized the establishment of Federations of chapters within states. 
1951 Constitution revised to provide for special interest divisions. Teacher Education Division (TED) and Council for Administrators of Special Education (CASE) were the first formed in 1953.
1953 1953 Constitution revised to provide for special interest divisions. Teacher Education Division (TED) and Council for Administrators of Special Education (CASE) were the first formed.
1958 CEC was renamed the Council for Exceptional Children. A Department of the National Education Association of the United States.
1958 Committee on Canadian Affairs established, as a Standing Committee of CEC, later called the CEC Canadian Committee (1968), then the Canadian Council for Exceptional Children (1979).
1962 CEC convenes National Convention with professional standards as the theme
1963 J.E. Wallace Wallin Special Education Lifetime Achievement Award was established to honor an individual who has made continued and sustained contributions to the field.
1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Public Law 89-10) and the State Schools Act (Public Law 89-313) provided states with direct grant assistance to help educate children with disabilities. 
1965 Student CEC was authorized, bringing pre-service teachers into the organization.
1966 CEC publishes "Professional Standards for Personnel in the Education of Exceptional Children."
1968 A part-time Canadian Office was established.
1969 CEC separated from NEA (National Education Association).
1969 Governmental Relations Unit established at CEC headquarters
1969 First official mention of the Black Caucus in CEC minutes. Other caucus groups formed and provided informal opportunities for discussion to bring concerns to CEC governance.
1973 CEC headquarters building in Reston, Virginia, completed
1975 The Education For All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142) is passed. CEC played a major role in bringing to the U.S. Congress the need for such a law and building the support for its passage.
1976 CEC publishes "Guidelines for Personnel in the Education of Exceptional Children."
1977 CEC and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) form a partnership for approving training programs. 
1978 CEC's First World Congress on Future Special Education convenes in Scotland, with more than 2,000 participants from 39 countries.
1978 CEC amended its “Basic Commitments and Responsibilities to Exceptional Children Policies,” adding an Ethnic and Multicultural Groups Chapter and policies on ethnicity and exceptionality; identification, testing, and placement; programming and curriculum adaptation; technical assistance and training; special projects; cooperation with organization, disciplines, and individuals; and interpreters/translators for culturally and linguistically diverse individuals.
1979 Gifted and Talented Policy Information Project was funded to provide products and information.
1980 The Professional Standards and Practice Standing Committee (PSPSC) in conjunction with TED and Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE) developed proposed CEC standards that were approved by CEC governance and then by NCATE.
1981 The Yes I Can (YIC) Awards was established by the FEC (Foundation for Exceptional Children)
1981 CEC part of 260 U.S. organizations forming the United States Council for the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP) to participate in the IYDP purpose to sensitize all citizens of the world of the needs of disabled persons with the central theme of "full participation and equality,” and is especially focused on enabling disabled persons to achieve access to the life of their society. 
1982 CEC mission statement calls for CEC to establish and promote appropriate professional standards. 
1983 CEC approves Code of Ethics, Standards for Professional Practice, Standards for the Preparation of Special Education Personnel, and Standards for Entry to Professional Practice, and charges the Professional Standard & Practice Standing Committee with their implementation. 
1983 CEC conducted a variety of activities in conjunction with the declaration of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons 1983-1992
1984 Clarissa Hug Teacher of the Year Award established to honor a CEC member whose work exemplifies the best in special education teaching.
1984 Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act (P.L. 98-524) included the results of deep CEC involvement in this legislative restructuring, strengthening accessibility to and quality of vocational programs for the nation's handicapped individuals through comprehensive restructuring in both the fiscal and programmatic aspects of vocational education nationwide.
1985 Adopted policy on technology development and utilization.
1985 CEC continued its leadership role in technology for special education, through sponsoring national conferences and workshops, publishing resource books on microcomputers and software, establishing a new special interest division on technology (TAM), participating in two federally funded technology projects, and co-sponsoring a national competition to find quality special education computer programs. 
1985 Board of Governors changed the name of the Standing Committee on Minority Groups to the Standing Committee on Ethnic and Multicultural Concerns.
1986 CEC initiates reviewing folios of programs seeking special education national accreditation. 
1986 Reauthorization (Public Laws 99-457) addressed early intervention and mandated that individual states provide services to families of children born with disabilities from the time they are born. Previously, these services were not available until a child reached the age of three. 
1987 CEC publishes the "Standards and Guidelines for Curriculum Excellence in Personnel Preparation Programs in Special Education."
1988 CEC gained 501(c)(3) status which created new avenues for program expansion.
1989 CEC Special Education Research Award was established to honor an individual or research team whose research has made significant contributions to the education of children and youth with exceptionalities.
1989 "Policies on Recruitment and Retention of Personnel" established. Delegate Assembly approved policy statement on access to education and services.
1990 Reauthorization (Public Law 110-476) changed the law’s name from EHA to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It also added traumatic brain injury and autism as new disability categories. Additionally, Congress mandated that as a part of a student’s individualized education program (IEP), an individual transition plan (ITP) must be developed to help the student transition to post-secondary life. 
1990 CEC Academy Training Program, a multiple-day intensive training, included Academy C: Multisystem: Systematic Instructional Planning for Exceptional Bilingual Students. 
1990 CEC Student newsletter, STEPS (Striving Toward Enhancing Professional Success), was first published, designed to attend to the unique needs and concerns of the student CEC members. 
1991 Resolution to establish an International Exceptional Children’s Week referred to a committee for study. 
1991 Governance considered whether there should be a United States Council for Exceptional Children.
1991 CEC Topical Conference on At-Risk Children and Youth, Children on the Edge, convenes in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1992 CEC approves the "Common Core Knowledge and Skills Essential for All Beginning Special Education Teachers." CEC approves "Guidelines for Program Approval for Institutions of Higher Education," including institutional, faculty, and program resources independent of NCATE. 
1992 CEC Business Award was established to honor a business that has promoted awareness, and employment of individuals with exceptionalities and their full participation within the community.
1993 CEC approves the revised "Standards for Entry to Professional Practice." CEC approves the revised "Guidelines for Program Approval" outside the NCATE Accreditation process for institutions of higher education, including institutional, faculty, and program resources. 
1994 Multicultural Summit was introduced as a featured CEC Convention & Expo program session and continued to be a highlighted session for several years thereafter. 
1994 Federal Outlook for Exceptional Children Budget Considerations and CEC Recommendations were published annually for fiscal year (FY) appropriations in U.S. Congress, known as the “Budget Book”. 
1995 Published the First Edition of What Every Special Educator Must Know: The International Standards for the Preparation and Certification of Special Education Teachers (The Red Book) CEC adopts initial areas of specialization knowledge and skill standards. New standards published and submitted for NCATE adoption.
1995 CEC Grassroots network changed from Political Action Network (PAN) to Children and Youth Action Network (CAN).
1997 CEC initiates the Professionally Recognized Special Educator (PRSE), a national special     education certification program with certificates for special education teachers, administrators, and diagnosticians. (Program discontinued 2000)
1997 CEC advocacy to address disproportionality in special education resulted in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 1997 amendments requiring states to report the number of students in special education by five race/ethnicity categories: American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, black, Hispanic and white (non-Hispanic) 
1997 Reauthorization IDEA (Public Law 105-17) articulated a new challenge to improve results for children with disabilities and their families, including an emphasis on access to the general curriculum. Additionally, states were given the authority to expand the “developmental delay” definition to include students up to age nine, and the law also required parents be provided an opportunity and provided a process to attempt to resolve disputes with schools and local educational agencies through mediation. 
1998 National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education (NCPSE) funded to encourage entry into the field of special education and early intervention and operated until 2003. 
2000 CEC released "Bright Futures for Exceptional Learners: An Agenda To Achieve Quality Conditions for Teaching & Learning," a study that identified barriers to high-quality special education and the issues underlying high teacher attrition rates, and proposed an action agenda.
2000 Special Education World Congress was convened in Toronto immediately preceding the annual CEC Convention & Expo sponsored by DISES.
2000 Published TEACHING Exceptional Children Topical Issue: Diversity in the New Millennium, Vol. 32(3), January/February 2000.  
2001 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) passed CEC provided guidance related to access and participation of “all” students.
2001 Unit Task Force provided report to the CEC Board on status of Units
2002 "National Research Council, Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education, January 2002, Washington, D.C: National Academy Press" report published.  CEC support and advocacy was pivotal in statutorily authorizing this national study.
2002 CEC made major changes in governance structure and FY changed from July to January with the Presidential term running from July 1, 2002 through December 31, 2003.
2003 The practice of selecting a Program Chair for the annual CEC Convention & Expo was started due to restructuring of CEC governance and in later years was expanded to the selection of co-chairs.
2003 "Diversity Guidelines for CEC Publications" were established.
2003 CEC’s Worldwide Futures Work Group provided a detailed report with specific objectives in the form of an action plan related to international development. 
2003 CEC ASPIIRE and ILIAD Partnership Projects published and distributed a variety of materials in 2002 and 2003 on disproportionality and related topics to meet practitioner needs.
2004 CEC helps guide Congress in the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  
2006 TEACHING Exceptional Children ran “Practitioner in Brief Series” which included briefs on culturally responsive prereferral interventions, overrepresentation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education culturally responsive pedagogy, and response to intervention with English language learners. (2006-2008) 
2007 The Professional Standards and Practices Committee submits report on “Promoting Standards” as requested by the CEC Board of Directors. CEC initiates development of procedures to classify the scientific evidence bases of professional practices, referred to as the Evidence-based Practices Initiative (EBPI).
2008 CEC released its "Policy on Safe and Positive School Climate" stating that all schools should have clear policies that prohibit harassment and discriminatory behaviors of any kind, including those related to ethnic background, language, age, abilities, family status, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religious and spiritual values, and geographic location. 
2008 CEC released its "Position on Response to Intervention (RTI)" stating that any RTI process must include non-negotiable guarantees related to special education and the key role of special educators.
2008 Canadian/US Committee initiated using the recommendations of the 2007 workgroup as a blueprint for the work of the committee.
2008 New Diversity Terminology approved by the Board of Directors for inclusion in the CEC Policy Manual Glossary.
2009 CEC achieves a significant victory in its long-time quest for full funding of IDEA; Congress passes, and President Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes an historic increase in IDEA funding, creating unprecedented opportunities in the field of special education.
2009 CEC released its "Policy on Physical Restraint and Seclusion Procedures in School Settings" stating that physical restraint and seclusion should be used in emergency situations only.
2010 CEC adopts new "Special Education Ethical Principles and Practice Standards" to provide the leadership and guidance that respect the diverse characteristics and needs of individuals with exceptionalities and their families.
2010 Edited new publication, Inclusion for ALL: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, sharing the vision for the implementation of services and supports to people with disabilities.
2011 CEC released its "Position on School Vouchers" including concerns related to both impact on public school systems, and idea that school vouchers both contradict and undermine central purposes of civil rights laws designed to protect children and youth with disabilities.
2011 CEC collaborated with the Open Society Foundations to continue to provide training and technical assistance to targeted countries to build capacity in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Western Africa.
2012 CEC released its "Position on Special Education Teacher Evaluation," supporting high-quality evaluations that are rigorous, systematic, and developed collaboratively with special education teachers to drive continuous improvement and excellence.
2013 A stand-alone set of Standards for Gifted and Talented Programs are jointly developed by CEC and NAGC, and NAGC.
2013 CEC released its "Evidence-Based Practice Standards" to provide researchers with a better understanding of the effectiveness of a range of practices for learners with disabilities.
2013 Launched the CECommunity to provide the largest online collaboration space for special educators to share and connect with one another.
2014 CEC Board of Directors established the Yes I Can Committee to manage and operate all components of the Yes I Can Awards Program thereby replacing the YIC Awards subcommittee of the Honors Committee. 
2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed, replacing NCLB.
2016 CEC hosted a Town Hall meeting including the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the CEC 2016 Convention & Expo to discuss and provide feedback on college and career readiness for students with exceptionalities.
2016 The Canadian/U.S. Committee was renamed the Canadian Committee, with specific membership and responsibilities assigned. 
2017 CEC and CEEDAR published the High-Leverage Practices in Special Education (HLPs)
2018 CEC conducted Professional Development Survey to look at future directions.
2019 "The State of the Special Education Profession Survey Report" was commissioned by the CEC Pioneers Division and supported by CEC is published.
2019 Funds from the Recovery Act included special education options advocated by CEC.
2020 Formation of the CEC project20/20 in response to the blatant and explicit manifestation of systemic racism in 2019 and the calls for social justice by the Black Lives Matter movement. 
2020 CEC and CASE hosted first totally virtual Special Education Leadership Summit (SELS)
2020 CEC approves proposal to become an accrediting body while also maintaining its partnership with CAEP. 
2021 CEC holds first completely virtual conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Last Updated:  29 September, 2021

© 2024 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). All rights reserved.