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Exceptional Children

Exceptional Children

Published in Association with Council for Exceptional Children

eISSN: 21635560 | ISSN: 00144029 | Current volume: 89 | Current issue: 2 Frequency: Quarterly

2020 Impact Factor: 5.042
2020 Ranking: 2/44 in Education, Special | 1/74 in Rehabilitation
Source: Journal Citation Reports®, 2020 release, a Clarivate Analytics product

Insightful and pioneering research, topical issues, and broad perspectives by leaders in the field for more than 75 years have made Exceptional Children (EC) the most respected scholarly journal in special education.

This peer-review journal publishes research, research reviews, methodological reviews of literature, data-based position papers and policy analyses, and registered reports on the education and development of children and youth with exceptionalities. EC is published quarterly.

All issues of EC are available to browse online.

Exceptional Children, an official journal of The Council for Exceptional Children, publishes original research and analyses that focus on the education and development of exceptional infants, toddlers, children, youth, and adults. This includes descriptions of research, research reviews, methodological reviews of the literature, data-based position papers, policy analyses, and registered reports. Exceptional Children publishes quantitative, qualitative, and single-subject design studies.

John Wills Lloyd University of Virginia, USA
William J. Therrien University of Virginia, USA
Associate Editors
Carolyn M. Callahan University of Virginia, USA
Erik Carter Vanderbilt University, USA
Bryan Cook University of Virginia, USA
Vivian Correa University of North Carolina-Charlotte, USA
Lynn S. Fuchs Vanderbilt University, American Institutes for Research
Nicholas A. Gage University of Florida, USA
Ralph Gardner Ohio State University, USA
Allison Lombardi University of Connecticut, USA
Sharon Vaughn University of Texas - Austin
CEC President
Jennifer J. Lesh Lynn University, USA
CEC Staff
Al Rickard Publications Manager
Chad Rummel Executive Director
Field Reviewers
Stephanie Al Otaiba Southern Methodist University, USA
Dannette Allen-Bronaugh James Madison University, USA
Jose Luis Alvarado California State University, Monterey Bay, USA
Charlotte Y. Alverson University of Oregon, USA
Alfredo Artiles Stanford University, USA
Kevin Ayres University of Georgia, USA
Scott Baker University of Oregon; Southern Methodist University
Jeffrey P. Bakken Bradley University, USA
Juliet H. Barnett Arizona State University, USA
Sheri Berkeley George Mason University, USA
Elizabeth Bettini Boston University, USA
Bonnie Billingsley Virginia Tech, USA
Brian Bottge University of Kentucky, USA
Matthew Brock Ohio State University, USA
Mary Brownell University of Florida, USA
Diane Pedrotty Bryant The University of Texas at Austin, USA
Matthew Burns University of Missouri, USA
Jason C. Chow University of Maryland - College Park, USA
Diane Clark Lamar University, USA
Maureen Conroy University of Florida, USA
Christan G. Coogle George Mason University
Michael Coyne University of Connecticut, USA
Jean Crockett University of Florida, USA
Susan De La Paz University of Maryland- College Park
Ronnie Detrich Wing Institute, India
Lisa Dieker University of Central Florida, USA
Christian Doabler The University of Texas at Austin, USA
Shaun M. Dougherty University of Connecticut, USA
David Edyburn University of Central Florida, USA
Anya Evmenova George Mason University, USA
Hank Fien Boston University, USA
Douglas Fuchs American Institutes for Research
Justin D. Garwood University of Vermont, USA
Marcia Gentry Purdue University, USA
Russell Gersten Instructional Research Group, USA
Michael Giangreco University of Vermont, USA
Allison Gilmour Temple University, USA
Anne Graves San Diego State University, USA
Daniel P. Hallahan University of Virginia, USA
Shanna E. Hirsch Clemson University, USA
Robert Horner University of Oregon, USA
John Hosp University of Massachusetts Amherst
Youjia Hua University of Virginia, USA
Charles Hughes Penn State University, USA
Li-Yu Hung National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan
Sarah Ivy Florida State University, USA
Asha K. Jitendra University of California, Riverside, USA
Evelyn S. Johnson Boise State University, USA
Kristine Jolivette University of Alabama, USA
Nancy Jordan University of Delaware
Mary Kealey Loudon County Public Schools, USA
Michael J. Kennedy University of Virginia, USA
Hyejung Kim Texas A&M University, USA
Margaret King-Sears George Mason University, USA
Tuire Koponen University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
Timothy J. Landrum University of Louisville, USA
Kathleen Lynne Lane University of Kansas, USA
Holly Lawson Portland State University, USA
Jennifer R. Ledford Vanderbilt University, USA
Melinda Leko University of Florida, USA
Christopher Lemons Vanderbilt University, USA
Tim Lewis University of Missouri, USA
Mary-Anne Linden University of Oregon, USA
Charles MacArthur University of Delaware, USA
Nancy Mamlin North Carolina Central University, USA
James Martin University of Oklahoma, USA
Linda Mason University of North Carolina, USA
Rose Mason Purdue University, USA
Margo A. Mastropieri George Mason University, USA
Scott McConnell University of Minnesota, USA
James McLeskey University of Florida, USA
Kristen McMaster University of Minnesota, USA
David McNaughton Pennsylvania State University, USA
Paul Morgan Pennsylvania State University, USA
Mary Morningstar Kansas University, USA
Rollanda O'Connor University of California, Riverside, USA
Susan Osborne North Carolina State University, USA
George Peterson-Karlan  Illinois State University
Sarah R. Powell University of Texas, Austin, USA
Paige Pullen University of Florida, USA
Kelley Regan George Mason University, USA
Catherine Richards-Tutor California State University Long Beach, USA
Graham Rifenbark University of Connecticut, USA
Mandy Rispoli University of Virginia, USA
Carly Roberts University of Washington, USA
John E. Romig University of Texas at Arlington, USA
Ji Hoon Ryoo Yonsei University, South Korea
Edward J. Sabornie North Carolina State University, USA
Elizabeth A. Sanders University of Washington, USA
Barbara R. Schirmer Walden University, USA
Ralf Schlosser Northeastern University, USA
Thomas E. Scruggs George Mason University, USA
Karrie Shogren University of Kansas, USA
Jordan Shurr Central Michigan University, USA
Paul Sindelar University of Florida, USA
Patricia Snyder University of Florida, USA
Manuel Soriano-Ferrer University of Valencia, Spain
Gloria Soto San Francisco State University, USA
Deborah Speece Virginia Commonwealth University, USA
Tina L. Stanton-Chapman University of Cincinnati, USA
H. Lee Swanson University of New Mexico, USA
Cherie Takemoto Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center, USA
Elizabeth Talbott College of William and Mary, USA
Jonte' C. Taylor The Pennsylvania State University, USA
Elif Tekin-Iftar Anadolu University, Turkey
David Test University of North Carolina - Charlotte, USA
Colleen Thoma Virginia Commonwealth University, USA
Martha Thurlow University of Minnesota–Minneapolis
Gerald Tindal University of Oregon, USA
Audrey A. Trainor New York University, USA
Jeanne Wanzek Vanderbilt University, USA
Margaret P. Weiss George Mason University, USA
Bradley S. Witzel Winthrop University, USA
Mitchell L. Yell University of South Carolina, USA
Naomi Zigmond University of Pittsburgh, USA
Stanley Zucker Arizona State University, USA
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  • Manuscript Submission
    Before submitting your manuscript, please read the information on this page to ensure that your manuscript adheres to the recommended guidelines for content, style, and format. When you are ready to submit a manuscript to the journal, please click here:

    For further questions on manuscript submission, please review this presentation on how to write for EC.

    Policies for Exceptional Children


    The purpose of Exceptional Children, the official research journal of the Council for Exceptional Children, is to publish reports of research and analyses that examine and advance education and development of infants, toddlers, children, youth, and adults with exceptionalities. Exceptional Children publishes original research, integrative reviews of the literature, and data-based policy analyses. Exceptional Children publishes studies that employ quantitative, qualitative, and single-subject methods.

    Articles published in Exceptional Children must have implications for research, practice, or policy in special or gifted education. Although Exceptional Children publishes studies that examine the effectiveness of interventions, it does not publish papers that are primarily descriptions of instructional procedures unless they are a part of a rigorous study of an intervention. Exceptional Children does not publish accounts of personal experiences, letters to the editor, book or test reviews, and anecdotal case studies. Exceptional Children also does not publish reports on innovative techniques, programs, policies, or models, unless they are based on rigorous data, nor does it publish reports about instrument development or studies involving a pretest-posttest only design with no comparison condition. Investigations employing questionnaires and surveys are generally not published unless the sample is broad and representative of the population being studied.

    As explained in greater detail subsequently on this site, Exceptional Children supports the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines. Please review publications in Exceptional Children that explain the rationale for efforts to promote open science (Cook, Lloyd, Mellor, Nosek, & Therrien, 2018; Lloyd & Therrien, 2018).

    For questions on manuscript submission, please download this presentation on how to write for Exceptional Children.


    Exceptional Children offers authors the opportunity to support the methods of their research. Consistent with the Transparency and Openness Promotion guidelines of the Open Science movement, Exceptional Children awards badges to authors who meet standards for providing access to data, materials, analytic procedures, and related features of their research that will promote replication, re-analysis, and broad integration of research.

    In addition to Registered Reports, the editors encourage authors to report studies that include evidence via securely time-stamped, publically accessible resources (e.g., uniform resource locations, document object identifiers, etc.) that the studies

    • Have been pre-registered,
    • Make the data for the study available for independent review and analysis and provide access to procedures and code used in analyzing the data, and
    • Provide access to materials used in a study.

    During submission of manuscripts, authors will have opportunities to seek an Open Data badge, an Open Materials badge, or a Preregistration badge and provide documentation supporting their application. In their cover letter for a submission, in addition to the contents identified in Section 12.11 of the _Publication_Manual_, authors should state which of the open science practices in the foregoing set of bullets they are seeking.


    Exceptional Children primarily publishes these types of articles:

    • Original research studies including qualitative, large-group quantitative (especially experimental and quasi-experimental designs), and single-case experimental studies. Appropriate effect sizes must be reported for the last two types of studies. Submissions of all types of research should report rigorous methods consistent with best research practices. Authors should consult the most recent guidelines from the American Psychological Association’s (APA) recommendations for reporting research for quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies; see Journal Article Reporting Standards.
    • Research reviews including analyses and integrations of research in one or more areas. Systematic reviews may employ methods often described as integrative reviews, meta-analyses, best-evidence syntheses, and similar approaches. A review’s methods must be comprehensive, integrative, and critical. Authors of literature reviews: Please consult the Cochrane Library’s  guidance about conducting and reporting literature reviews. Although not all of the guidelines for reviews may apply to a specific study, it is important to report basic practices (e.g., search, selection, coding, analysis, etc.). Research reviews may include methodological reviews including systematic examinations of the methodological strengths and weaknesses of a specific body of literature. Any research review submitted to Exceptional Children should explain how the authors will make coding procedures, analytic procedures (e.g., SAS, R, or similar code), and actual data available on a permanent, open source repository.
    • Data-based Position Papers and Policy Analyses: Manuscripts that address important contemporary topics such as a practical, policy, research methods, or theoretical matters. Papers addressing positions and policies must be primarily based on data, not solely opinion. Policy analyses of issues affecting exceptional individuals should employ rigorous methods, similar to papers and literature reviews.
    • Registered Reports. Exceptional Children will review and grant conditional acceptance to plans for studies that are submitted prior to the actual conduct of the research work and have been documented on third-party, publicly accessible site. All study designs (e.g., qualitative, secondary data analyses, single-case designs, group-contrast designs including novel and replication studies) can be submitted as Registered Reports. Regardless of the methods employed, it is critical that submissions explicitly describe the rationale, methods, and analytic processes in the initial submission.

    Registered Reports require that Exceptional Children review a submission in two stages. First, in stage 1, researchers submit a thorough rationale including a description of pilot and non-registered study findings (if applicable), catalogue of research questions, proposed experimental methods, and proposed analyses before data have been collected; the submitters must clearly show that the results of their study would be important even if there was a failure to reject the null. Group contrast studies must be sufficiently powered (80%) for the main dependent variable of interest. Please consult the Open Science Foundation documents regarding Registered Reports.

    Peer reviewers for Exceptional Children will review the planned study and provide feedback to the researchers. If, after the authors have met the reviewers’ recommendations, the proposed article is determined to be sufficiently informative, it may be accepted in principle. Once they have conducted the study, the researchers submit the report of the research; regardless of the final results, if the researchers have faithfully conducted and reported the research, Exceptional Children will publish the report provided that the study is completed and the stage 2 manuscript is submitted to EC within one year of stage 1 acceptance. The one year deadline may be extended via editorial discretion. Citations of accepted stage 1 manuscripts that are withdrawn, rejected or fail to meet the stage 2 submission deadline will be listed in the journal preview with a link to the online stage 1 submission.

    The researchers’ final report must clearly identify any deviations from the original research plan. Significant deviations, determined via peer and editor review, may be a cause for a stage 2 submission to be rejected. Supplemental exploratory analyses may be added provided they are reported in a separate subsection and labeled as exploratory. Subject to editor and peer review, changes to the introduction submitted at stage one may be permitted.

    • Replications: Exceptional Children will consider articles that report the results of exact replications of especially influential studies. Replications should explain the importance of the original study (i.e., its influence on practice, research, or policy) and why a replication of it is otherwise warranted. Reports should describe the methods of the replication, including efforts to ensure that the replication study was faithful to the original study. Both successful replications and failures to replicate will be considered. In general, authors submitting replications probably should adhere to requirements for Registered Reports.


    Articles published in Exceptional Children are typically based on 28- to 35-page manuscripts, including cover page, abstract, references, tables, and figures. Consistent with guidance from APA’s Publication Manual, the reference list, each table, and each figure should begin on a new page. Manuscripts should be double spaced throughout with 1-inch margins and use a 12-point Times-New-Roman font. Please review and adhere to the guidelines of APA’s Publication Manual (7th Edition, 2020). Submissions that do not conform to the recommendations of APA’s Publication Manual may be rejected or returned for revision immediately.

    Although Exceptional Children is a scholarly research journal, its articles are read by a broad audience. Readers include international, regional, state, and local individuals who are concerned with disability, special education, and rehabilitation. The readership represents administrators, educational practitioners, parents, and policy makers. Because readers have diverse interests, articles written for Exceptional Children must communicate with this broad audience. Each article must be clear and concise; communicate with limited use of jargon (including acronyms); and provide enough general information, so that readers can understand the issues or questions addressed, what was done, the basic findings, and recommendations. Articles should discuss implications for practice, research, and policy.

    Authors need to provide enough specific information about their methods so their work can be replicated by other researchers. Those who meet the standards for open science badges will be more likely have strong methods that promote replication. The following items should be addressed in manuscripts submitted to Exceptional Children:

    Research Studies

    • Authors must indicate whether the conducted research was preregistered with an analysis plan in an independent, institutional registry (e.g., What should be preregistered depends on study design. For group contrasts studies, preregistration involves registering the study design, variables, and treatment conditions. This includes an analysis plan including specification of sequence of analyses or the statistical model that will be reported. Recommended preregistration components for qualitative and secondary data analyses can be found at the following website: .  Recommended guidelines for single-case design research can be found in the following EC publication:  Johnson, A. H., & Cook, B. G. (2019). Preregistration in single-case design research. Exceptional Children86(1), 95–112. A template for single-case design preregistration can be found at:
    • Regardless of design, a link to the preregistration in an institutional registry must be made available to the journal prior to publication. The journal, or an entity acting on behalf of the journal, will verify that preregistration adheres to the specifications for preregistration and then provide certification of the preregistration in the article.
        • Authors must, in the paper’s method section, indicate if they did or did not preregister the research with or without an analysis plan on an independent, institutional registry.
        • If an author did preregister the research with an analysis plan, the author must:
          • confirm in the text that the study was registered prior to conducting the research, with links to the time-stamped preregistrations at the institutional registry, and that the preregistration adheres to the disclosure requirements of the institutional registry or those required for the preregistered badge with analysis plans maintained by the Center for Open Science.
          • report all pre-registered analyses in the text, or, if there were changes in the analysis plan following preregistration, those changes must be disclosed with explanation for the changes.
          • Clearly distinguish in text, analyses that were preregistered from those that were not, such as having separate sections in the results for confirmatory and exploratory analyses.
    • Participants in research studies must be described appropriately; such descriptions are critical to both the science and practice of special education.
    • Authors should provide adequate evidence about the trustworthiness (e.g., reliability, validity, inter-scorer agreement) of measure and instruments.
    • In studies that report survey data, authors should demonstrate that their sampling methods provide a representative sample of the population to which their results should apply. Populations that are representative of a local group (e.g., individual schools or local or state education agencies) rather than a broad group (e.g., national), are unlikely to be accepted.
    • For intervention studies, evidence that treatments were implemented as intended (i.e., fidelity) should be provided. Evidence about the trustworthiness of outcome measures is also essential; estimates of inter-scorer agreement should be corrected for chance agreement.
    • All data, program code and other methods must be appropriately cited. Such materials should be recognized as original intellectual contributions and afforded recognition through citation.
      • All data sets and program code used in a publication must be cited in the text and listed in the reference section.
      • References for data sets and program code should include a persistent identifier, such as a Digital Object Identifier (DOI). Persistent identifiers ensure future access to unique published digital objects, such as a text or data set. Persistent identifiers are assigned to data sets by digital archives, such as institutional repositories and partners in the Data Preservation Alliance for the Social Sciences (Data-PASS).
      • Data set citation example: Campbell, A., & Kahn, R. L. (1999). American national election study, 1948. ICPSR07218-v3. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor].

    Regardless of the research methods used, authors must also address implications for research and practice. For example, the authors should discuss studies that would need to be conducted in the future (see Exceptional Children, 2005, Volume 71, Issue 2, for guidelines about describing research participants and other research quality indicators). They should also explain how their findings expressly guide practice.

    Replications of studies, depending on the strength of the methods, are important and welcome. Please see subsequent notes. Regardless of whether a study corroborates or contradicts important previous findings, Exceptional Children welcomes important replications.


    Manuscripts submitted to Exceptional Children are reviewed only if they meet the following criteria:

    The manuscript

    • Is consistent with the purposes of Exceptional Children, as determined by the editors;
    • Is formatted according to the guidelines of the Publication Manual of the APA (7th edition);
    • Is free of personal references [“in press” articles; language such as “we (citation)” or “our previous work (citation)”; precise location for samples; and etc.]; that is, the manuscript is “anonymized”;
    • Is free of word-processing codes (including those such as “properties”) that may identify authors);
    • Uses language that is respectful of people with disabilities (see Chapter 5, ‘Bias-Free Language Guidelines,' in the Publication Manual of the APA);
    • Reports effect sizes as appropriate;
    • Has digital object identification (doi) numbers for appropriate references;
    • Uses a title that includes no more than 12-15 words;
    • Has an abstract that is no longer than 150 words;
    • Does not include footnotes in the body of the manuscript;
    • Includes legible tables and figures (professional-quality figures may be required for final acceptance).


    Cover Letter Requirements

    Authors should adhere to the recommendations of the APA Publication Manual (Section 12.11) regarding additional requirements and the cover letter.

    Submission Process and Requirements

    All manuscripts should be submitted using the Exceptional Children portal site: 

    The steps for submission are as follows:

    1. Log in to your account on the portal site. If you are submitting for the first time, create an account and then log in.
    2. On the right, click “Submit an Article.”
    3. Read and accept submission agreement. Note: All information in the submission agreement should also be addressed in your submission cover letter.
    4. Fill out your personal information as it appears on your manuscript.
    5. Add additional author email addresses so they receive correspondence about the submission.
    6. Upload manuscript, cover letter, and related items such as tables and figures.
    7. Submit.
    8. Verify accuracy of submission and revise as necessary.


    After an initial review by the editors, selection of manuscripts for publication is based on an anonymous peer review process. Sometimes the editors refer manuscripts to associate editors who then conduct the review process. Those manuscripts that do not meet all the manuscript requirements as outlined previously or are not consistent with the purpose of the journal, are not forwarded for peer review. In such cases, the submitting author is notified and asked to make changes in the manuscript so that it meets requirements or is told that it is not acceptable for Exceptional Children.

    Editors who find manuscripts consistent with the purpose of the journal and meeting all requirements solicit reviews from as many as three or more peer reviewers with expertise about the content of the manuscript. Reviewers evaluate the manuscript on its overall importance, quality of the work, and clarity of writing. Although the editors know identities of both the reviewers and the authors, reviewers will not know the identity of the authors, nor will authors know the identities of the reviewers (i.e., EC uses a “anonymize” peer review process).

    Based on the reviewers’ and their own reading of the submissions, the editors make preliminary editorial decisions ranging from rejection to minor revision:

    • Acceptable, with routine editing.
    • Acceptable, with revisions indicated.
    • Revise and resubmit.
    • Unacceptable.

    Reviewers usually recommend revisions, if there is a chance that the manuscript can be made acceptable. Manuscripts often go through three or even four revisions before acceptance.

    Usually, the editors correspond with authors about reviews of their manuscripts fewer than three months after the manuscripts are received by the editors. Once a manuscript is received, the date is recorded and the submitting author is notified by e-mail. If the authors fail to submit following the directions in the portal, the manuscript is not listed as received until the uploaded manuscript meets all requirements.

    While under review (until authors receive word of a decision from the editors of Exceptional Children), the journal has exclusive options on possible publication. The manuscript should not be submitted elsewhere during this time.


    After a manuscript is accepted for publication in Exceptional Children, the authors are responsible for completing the following:

    • Acknowledging the funding agency for supported research.
    • Verifying the authenticity of all quoted material and citations and for obtaining permission from the original source for quotes in excess of 150 words or for tables or figures reproduced from published works.
    • Preparing camera-ready black and white copies of all figures included in the article. Obtaining permission to reprint or adapt previously published figures, tables, and other materials.
    • Granting CEC the exclusive license to publish the article by signing the contributor agreement.


    John Wills Lloyd, Editor

    William J. Therrien, Editor

    For more information, please refer to the SAGE Manuscript Submission Guidelines.

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