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What Is the Council for Exceptional Children?

Founded in 1922, the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the largest internationally recognized professional organization devoted to improving the educational experience of students with gifts and talents or disabilities. At its inception, one of the primary goals was to organize and establish professional standards.

The CEC leads the education field in the development of preparation and professional practice standards as well as ethical principles. Using a research-based process, the organization advocates for governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides continuing education and helps professionals obtain the necessary resources to provide their students with the best learning environments. The CEC can be a valuable resource for students pursuing a master’s degree in gifted and talented education.

Policy and Advocacy

The CEC works diligently to improve state- and national-level public policy that affects students with disabilities, gifts and talents — as well as their parents and the professionals who work with them on a daily basis. The CEC not only examines current policy issues at the various levels of government but also develops evidence-based responses and solutions. The group also makes informed recommendations for educational regulations, funding initiatives, and funding allocations.

One of the most significant policy initiatives supported by the CEC — the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act — was the predecessor of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) ACT. These and other similar pieces of legislation helped ensure that children of all academic abilities had the right to free and appropriate public education.

Professional Development

Professional development is critical for maintaining and developing the skills necessary to be an effective teacher. The CEC provides a variety of workshops, webinars, conferences and training opportunities to help educators develop their skills and maintain their certifications. The majority of the learning opportunities developed by the CEC focus on exceptional student education. This is a valuable resource for gifted and talented instructors, as it can be difficult to find courses tailored specifically for their student demographic.

The annual CEC Convention is one of the largest professional development events in the field devoted entirely to gifted and special education. In addition to many learning opportunities, it also provides educators with the chance to develop their professional networks by connecting with other teachers, administrators and policymakers.

The CEC also maintains a catalog of resources for educators and publishes relevant e-books that address specific learning concerns such as autism, co-teaching, transition, interventions and administration. The organization publishes two journals: Teaching Exceptional Children and Exceptional Children.

Educational Resources

The Council for Exceptional Children understands educators of exceptional children have a desperate need for the latest information and new resources to better serve their student populations. The council maintains CECommunity, a separate website with an active forum where educators can share tips and help each other solve problems. Members can also participate in personal mentoring, which gives educators an opportunity to share their experience and expertise with colleagues and help advance the field of gifted and talented education. Finally, the organization maintains a Career Center that helps schools and educators connect.


Until recently, the Council for Exceptional Children was one of the organizations that helped create and maintain standards for professional and educational institutions training educators of gifted and talented students. CEC worked with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), which was founded in 1954. The other primary accreditation influence was the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). These organizations joined forces, and now the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) primarily organizes accreditation information.

Fewer resources are available to gifted and talented teachers than are available to general education teachers. Moreover, programs that provide a stimulating and rewarding educational environment for exceptional students often lack the support and funding that those focused on special needs or atypical students receive.

Pursuing a master’s degree in gifted and talented education can give teachers greater insight into the field and introduce them to new resources. The Council for Exceptional Children is one such resource that belongs in the gifted and talented teacher’s toolbox.

Learn more about the Arkansas State online MSE in Gifted, Talented, and Creative degree program.


CEC: CEC Professional Standards

CAEP: The CEAP Standards

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

Teacher Education Accreditation Council

CEC: CECommunity

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