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CEC Accreditation Background and Requirements

In 2020, the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) began work to become an independent accreditor of special educator programs. The purpose of CEC Accreditation is to build upon CEC’s history of National Recognition as a SPA (Specialized Professional Association) and to create an accreditation process that is a robust, targeted approach focused on developing candidate proficiencies, candidate performance on CEC standards, public accountability, and contextual indicators of quality in alignment to the existing CEC Professional Preparation Standards.

CEC formed an Accreditation Commission tasked with developing the accreditation process, procedures, and requirements. In November 2020, the CEC Board of Directors executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commission, providing the Commission operational independence with respect to accreditation policy, process, and decision-making.


Brad Duncan
Director of Professional Standards and Practice

The Accreditation Commission consists of the following seven individuals:

Rebecca Watts (Chair) Regional Vice President, Western Governors University
Mary Harrill Senior Director, Higher Education Accreditation and Program Support, NAEYC
Eva Horn Professor & Coordinator of Early Childhood Unified Program, University of Kansas
Claire Hughes Professor of Elementary and Special Education, College of Coastal Georgia
John Johnston Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education at the University of Memphis
LaSonya Moore Assistant Professor, Exceptional Student Education, University of South Florida St. Petersburg
Mickie Wong-Lo Associate Professor, Director Special Education, Biola University

The CEC Commission is designing an accreditation process for initial preparation programs that prepare candidates for their first credential in special education and advanced special educator programs that prepare candidates for subsequent credentials. Special educator preparation programs operating within the United States and its territories and within U.S. based institutions operating abroad are eligible for national accreditation by CEC.

CEC Accreditation requirements include provision of an integrated sequence of coursework leading to a degree and/or credential (e.g., state licensure) that entitles the holder to perform professional special educator services. CEC Accreditation will launch using the following sets of standards: 

  • 2020 Initial Practice-Based Professional Preparation Standards for Special Educators 
  • 2020 Initial Practice-Based Professional Preparation Standards for Early Interventionists/Early Childhood Special Educators 
  • 2012 Advanced Special Education Preparation Standards

The CEC Commission may choose to include additional sets of professional preparation standards in the accreditation process in the future. Such additions would include a public review period.

News and Updates

The CEC Accreditation Commission will collect and consider all public feedback received regarding the expectations for potential edits and modifications. The Commission plans to seek additional public feedback at regular intervals as elements of the accreditation process are developed.

The commission will revise and release a final version of the Accreditation Expectations early summer 2021 and will begin developing additional rubrics and program and reviewer resources. CEC’s plans to host informational webinars and begin accepting applications to enter the accreditation process in late summer/early fall 2021.  CEC also will seek recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) once it begins accreditation operations. 

The CEC Accreditation Commission invites stakeholders to review the draft Accreditation Expectations and to provide feedback and comments via the survey link below. A list of frequently asked questions will be extracted from the survey results and posted with responses from CEC Staff and the Accreditation Commission on CEC’s website.


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Last Updated:  19 May, 2021

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