I am writing to announce my retirement at the end of December of this year. It has been a delight to serve as Commissioner, and Deputy Commissioner before that, of the National Center for Special Education Research. The work of NCSER is important and unique in the federal government—supporting research to improve our understanding of children and youth with disabilities and the services provided through IDEA. We have accomplished a great deal in the last several years. We have invested over 1 billion dollars in roughly 550 research grants to improve academic access, engagement, and progress; social and behavioral skills for learning; functional and transition skills; and the tools educators need to improve outcomes for students with or at risk for disabilities. We have made a meaningful difference in special education research and in the lives of students, educators, and families. And we have committed to providing research training opportunities to increase the capacity in the field—to date we have funded training for 79 postdoctoral fellows and research and mentoring for 33 early career scholars as well as hundreds of established researchers in our methods trainings. NCSER is in a good place for new leadership.
None of this would have been possible, of course, without two key ingredients. The first is the work of NCSER staff. Their expertise, hard work, and passion for the mission of the Center has supported the advances that have been made across all our research portfolios. Their kindness and sense of humor have helped get us through the tougher times of limited budgets and the COVID-19 pandemic. They made each workday better and will continue to keep our small Center mighty. I know I leave you in good hands as NCSER transitions to a new Commissioner.
The second ingredient is the work of the researchers who have taken on the challenges of working in early intervention and special education. Thank you all for your commitment to high quality research, your concern for learners with disabilities, and your patience and persistence when circumstances, such as the pandemic, got tough. I hope that you have felt the importance of your contribution toward evidence building and addressing issues of critical importance to students, practitioners, and families. I have learned so much from you and appreciate your support, and I look forward to hearing about your current and future projects.
IES Director Mark Schneider and I are of course invested in making sure the excellent research funded by NCSER continues. If you have thoughts about the Commissioner role or individuals you would like to be considered for the role, you can reach Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care and support one another in this important work. I will be around until the end of December, but my thoughts will continue to be with you long after I leave IES. Thank you all so much.
Wishing you all the best,