August 2013: Dr. Erica McCray

Dr. Erica McCray

Spotlight on Dr. Erica McCray
August 6, 2013

Dr. Erica McCray had no idea she would one day be a professor when she started college.

She knew that she wanted to help people, which led her to major in psychology. While working as a long-term substitute teacher, she realized the great need for special educators. Erica began her career by teaching a class of students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in beautiful Tampa, FL. While her background in psychology prepared her well to facilitate changes in behavior, she quickly realized the students had diverse academic needs that required more knowledge and skill. It was at this point that Erica decided to pursue a graduate degree at USF.

Now she loves her work as a teacher educator and researcher. “It has really come full circle.” Erica says as she describes the process by which she moved from being a novice special educator to being a special education faculty member. Erica’s self-described “infinite curiosity” keeps her wondering how she can contribute to research that improves the preparedness of teachers and leaders who are working with our nation’s most vulnerable students. She has a number of notable accomplishments as a special education researcher. (More on this here.)

Erica Building Houses

Erica volunteering on a Rebuilding Together home repair site.

Even more interesting than Erica’s academic background is the driving force behind all of her work. The beginning of Erica’s Master’s program coincided with the birth of her daughter. Her love for her daughter fuels her passion for education. Erica can be heard telling her students, “You have strive to be the kind of teacher you would want to teach your own child.” She also draws inspiration from her mother who she claims to be “the strongest and smartest person I know.”

Not only can Erica be seen busily walking the halls of the University of Florida College of Education; she has many other hobbies. She and her business partner bring delight to many in Gainesville as entrepreneurial bakers. Delicious cupcakes and cookies are just a couple of the items that sometimes grace Norman Hall. Erica also volunteers her time with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and with Rebuilding Together North Central Florida. She and her daughter love working together to perform repairs on homes for families in need.

Erica is driven to help those who need it the most. As such, she is looking forward to her work with CEEDAR and collaborating to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

The CEEDAR Spotlight is a monthly installment that introduces you to one of our CEEDAR Teammates.  You can find more information about Erica on our website’s “About Us” section.

July 2013: Dr. Paul Sindelar


School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies
College of Education
University of Florida

1408 Norman Hall
Gainesville, FL 32611-7050
phone: 352.273.4266
Fax 352.392.2655

Research Biography

My research has focused on change in the special education teacher labor market and its implications for policy makers and teacher educators. In U.S. public schools, fewer special education teachers are employed today than were employed a decade ago. The reasons for the decline are unclear, although reductions in the number of students identified with learning disabilities, changes in service delivery, and the economic downturn are likely to be playing a role. Currently, we are studying the impact of these changes on outcomes for students with disabilities and other struggling students. As Co-Director of the CEEDAR Center, my work to date has focused on policy analysis, developing demographic state profiles, and project evaluation.


Ph.D. – University of Minnesota, 1977, Educational Psychology

M.S. – University of Illinois, 1974, Special Education

A.B. – Dartmouth College, 1969, History

Key Professional Appointments

Associate Dean for Research, University of Florida, Office of Educational Research, 2005-2008

Director, University of Florida Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, 2000-2005

Director, University of Florida Center for School Improvement, 1996-2001

Professor, University of Florida Department of Special Education, 1988-present

Chair, University of Florida Department of Special Education, 1988-1996

Activities & Honors

University of Florida, Faculty Achievement Recognition Award, 2007

University of Illinois, College of Education Alumni Association, Distinguished Alumni Award, 2007

Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, TED Publication Award, Volume 30, April, 2009


Principal Investigator, Project Invest: Optimizing Investments in Teacher Education Alternatives. January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2007. U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, $540,000.

Co-Principal Investigator (with Dr. Mary Brownell, Principal Investigator), National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development. October 1, 2007, to September 30, 2012, $2,500,000.

Co-Principal Investigator (with Mary T. Brownell and Erica D. McCray), Research on Quality in Educating Special Education Teachers (Project ReQuEST): A Program to Prepare Leadership Personnel in Special Education. U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education, July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2013, $800,000.

Co-Principal Investigator (with Dr. Mary Brownell, Principal Investigator and Erica McCray, Co-Principal Investigator), Center for Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform. U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, January 1, 2013, to December 30, 2017, $25,000,000.

Selected Publications

Brownell, M. T., Bishop, A. M., & Sindelar, P. T. (2005). NCLB and the demand for highly qualified teachers: Challenges and solutions for rural schools. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 24(1), 9-15.

Hardman, M. L., Rosenberg, M., & Sindelar, P. (2005). NCLB, IDEA, and alternative routes in preparation of rural special education teachers in high incidence areas. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 24(1), 16-22.

Brownell, M. T., Adams, A., Sindelar, P., Waldron, N., & van Hover, S. (2006). Learning from collaboration. The role of teacher qualities. Exceptional Children, 72, 169-187.

Rosenberg, M. S., & Sindelar, P. T. (2005). The proliferation of alternative routes to certification in special education: A critical review of the literature. Journal of Special Education, 39, 117-127.

Sindelar, P. T., Shearer, D. K., Yendol-Hoppey, D., & Liebert, T. W. (2006). The sustainability of inclusive school reform. Exceptional Children, 72, 317-331.

Blanton, L. L., Sindelar, P. T., & Correa, V. I. (2006). Models and measures of beginning teacher quality. Journal of Special Education, 40, 115-127.

Rosenberg, M. S., Boyer, K. L., Sindelar, P. T., & Misra, S. (2007). Alternative route programs to certification in special education:  What we know about program design, instructional delivery, and participant characteristics. Exceptional Children, 73, 224-241.

Sindelar, P. T., Bishop, A. G., Gill, M. G., Connelly, V., & Rosenberg, M. S. (2007). Getting teachers where they’re needed most: The case for licensure reciprocity. Teacher Education and Special Education, 30, 103-114.

Dai, C., Sindelar, P. T., Denslow, D., Dewey, J., & Rosenberg, M. S. (2007). Economic analysis and the design of alternative-route teacher education programs. Journal of Teacher Education, 58, 422-439.

Sindelar, P. T., Brownell, M. T., & Billingsley, B. (2010). Special education teacher education research: Current status and future directions. Teacher Education and Special Education, 33, 8-24.

Brownell, M. T., Sindelar, P. T., Kiely, M. T., & Danielson, L. C. (2010). Special education teacher quality and preparation: Exposing foundations, constructing a new model. Exceptional Children, 76, 357-377.

Sindelar, P. T., Heretick, J., Hirsch, E., Rorrer, A., & Dawson, S. A. (2010). What district administrators need to know about state induction policy. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 23, 5-13.

Sindelar, P. T., Dewey, J. F., Rosenberg, M. S., Corbett, N. L., Denslow, D., & Lotfinia, B. (2012). Cost effectiveness of alternative route special education teacher preparation. Exceptional Children, 79, 25-42.

Leko, M. M., Brownell, M. T., Sindelar, P. T., & Murphy, K. (2012). Promoting special education preservice teacher expertise. Focus on Exceptional Children, 44(7), 1-16.

Boe, E. E., de Bettencourt, L. U., Dewey, J., Rosenberg, M., Sindelar, P., & Leko, C. (2013). Variability in demand for special education teachers: Indicators, explanations, and impacts. Exceptionality, 21, 103-125.

Sindelar, P. T., McCray, E. D., Lignugaris/Kraft, B., & Brownell, M. T. (Eds.). (in press). The handbook of research on special education teacher preparation. New York: Routledge.