University of California, Riverside

UCR Newsroom

Professors to Advise Presidential Commission

Two UCR Researchers to Advise President's Commission on Special Education

(April 15, 2002)

Two researchers from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Riverside will be among the experts testifying next week (April 16, 18) before the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education, which will advise President George W. Bush in preparation for the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Frank Gresham will testify before the commission task force on assessment and identification on April 16 in New York, NY. Donald MacMillan will testify before the commission task force on shaping the research agenda on April 18 in Nashville, Tenn. Both are distinguished professors of education.

Gresham will speak about the current weaknesses in federal and state categories for high-incidence disabilities – such as specific learning disabilities, mild mental retardation and emotional disturbance – and public schools’ failure to follow these often-inappropriate guidelines. Much of Gresham’s research has found that school districts tend to over identify children as learning disabled, in part to avoid harsher terms like “mentally retarded.” The result is a 283-percent jump in the learning disabled population in the nation’s schools between 1976 and the present. Students with specific learning disabilities now account for over half of all students with disabilities served under special education.

MacMillan will speak about ways to improve research in special education. His work examines the apparent difference between how researchers and how schools classify special education students. As a result, researchers have been studying different groups of students than those being taught under special education in the schools. He will also speak about the need to better coordinate special education research between the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs and the National Institutes of Health.

The Commission is expected to issue a report to the President on July 1, 2002.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Media Relations
900 University Avenue
1156 Hinderaker Hall
Riverside, CA 92521

Tel: (951) 827-6397 (951) UCR-NEWS
Fax: (951) 827-5008

Related Links