GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The successful five-year launch of a University of Florida-led effort to help states across the nation vastly improve teaching and school leadership for students with disabilities has received a $21 million boost to further strengthen and expand the ambitious program for another five years.

By 2023, after a decade of collaborative work with education leaders and agencies in multiple states, UF special education researchers say the impact of the intensive educator-prep reform activities will be evident in at least 30 participating states.

The project got its start in 2013 when the U.S. Department of Education awarded $25 million to the UF College of Education to create a national center that would partner with public education systems and university teacher and leader preparation programs in five new states each year through 2016.

The ongoing charge of the resulting center–now more than 20 states strong including Florida—has been to help states retool and strengthen their standards and methods for preparing, licensing and evaluating effective teachers and school leaders serving students with disabilities. A team of faculty researchers from UF’s nationally ranked Special Education program heads the center, dubbed the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform, or CEEDAR Center for short.

UF’s back-to-back CEEDAR grants were awarded by the federal Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs. The researchers call the extended version of the center CEEDAR 2.0.

The success of the first effort was key to obtaining the new funding, according to Mary Brownell, CEEDAR Center executive director and a UF professor of special education.

The CEEDAR Center leadership team, from UF’s nationally ranked Special Education program, consists of Meg Kamman (pictured clockwise from top left), Erica McCray, Paul Sindelar and Mary Brownell (center executive director).