The Founding, Evolution, and Impact of the American Council on Rural Special Education

Melinda Jones Ault, Britt Tatman Ferguson, Ann B. Berry, Sarah Hawkins-Lear, Kathleen Magiera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interest in documenting the history and evolution of the American Council for Rural Special Education (ACRES), from the perspective of its original members, resulted in distribution of a survey and interviews. The data collected recount the original mission of ACRES and describe the organization’s impact over the past 37 years. Overarching themes that emerged from the data include the unique needs of rural special education, ACRES’s voice for rural environments, people with a passion for rural special education, and friendliness of the organization. The results identified future directions of the organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalRural Special Education Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACRES had affected legislation, no survey respondents marked “extremely well,” and one marked “unsure.” The remaining eight survey respondents indicated that ACRES’s influence on legislation has been “somewhat” or “well.” From the perspective of the early members who were interviewed, the data indicate that efforts to impact rural legislation and policy have fluctuated over the years. At the state level, members visited their own congressional delegation office in key rural states to raise awareness. Members have lobbied for funding and received grants to organize rural centers to train and support teachers in their state. At the federal level, ACRES members have continued to communicate with their legislators and raised the level of awareness for rural special education issues. ACRES has presented white papers and policy statements, and publications in RSEQ have addressed many rural special education issues. Federal policy and guideline updates have been provided at many ACRES conferences by individuals from organizations such as the OSEP and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, as examples. ACRES members worked with consultant Jane West and went to Washington, DC., to talk with and educate congressional representatives on how legislation under consideration would affect rural areas. An interviewee noted, “As a result, the word ‘rural’ was placed in a grant competition” for personnel preparation grants:

Publisher Copyright:
© Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2019.


  • founding
  • organization
  • rural
  • special education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Development


Dive into the research topics of 'The Founding, Evolution, and Impact of the American Council on Rural Special Education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this