Mary McLean, Ph.D.

Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies


  • Ph.D. in Early Childhood Special Education, University of Wisconsin
  • M.A. in Special Education, George Peabody College, Nashville, TN
  • B.A. in Special Education, University of Iowa

Awards & Appointments

  • Mary McEvoy Service to the Field award from the Division for Early Childhood, 2015
  • Chair of the Division for Early Childhood Recommended Practices Commission, Present
  • Director, Early Childhood Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1999-2014
  • President, Division for Early Childhood, Council for Exceptional Children, 1997-1998
  • Division for Early Childhood Merle B. Karnes Award for Service, 1994

Curriculum Vitae

Mary McLean CV (pdf)


Dr. McLean is a core faculty member of the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies and a professor of special education and early childhood studies in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies.  She is regarded for her research on assessment strategies for young children with disabilities and for her work on the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) Recommended Practices for Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education.

Dr. McLean moved to the University of Florida from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she was the Kellner Endowed Professor in Early Childhood Education and had been on the faculty for 17 years. At UWM, she directed the Early Childhood Special Education program in the School of Education and also served as director of the Early Childhood Research Center, an interdisciplinary center focused on research and development in early childhood.

Prior to UWM, Dr. McLean was at the University of North Dakota and Auburn University. During this time in higher education, she received 10 personnel preparation grants, five of which were focused on interdisciplinary personnel preparation, partnered with other universities on four research projects, and headed a sub-contract from the Head Start National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning focused on training and technical assistance on ongoing assessment. For 10 years at Auburn University, she directed the Auburn Intervention Model early intervention project for children from birth through age four with disabilities.

Prior to entering higher education, Dr. McLean worked as a special education teacher, a supervising teacher and curriculum coordinator at the Susan Gray School at Peabody College, and as a home-based early interventionist for a model demonstration project through Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Dr. McLean has co-authored seven books, has authored or co-authored 48 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and has served as a field editor for the Journal of Early InterventionInfants and Young Children, and Young Exceptional Children. She served as president of the professional organization for early intervention/early childhood special education, the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children.


Chair, Division for Early Childhood (DEC) Recommended Practices Commission, January 2014 — present

Member, Evidence Synthesis Group, DEC Recommended Practices Commission, charged with developing process for constructing and completing evidence syntheses for the DEC Recommended Practices

Recent Grants

Impact of Professional Development on Preschool Teachers’ Use of Embedded-Instruction Practices: An Efficacy Trial of Tools For Teachers
  • Funded by Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education (7/1/15 – 6/30/19)
  • Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • Award: $3,498,113
Preparation and Retention of Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education Personnel: Preparing for Evidence-Based Practice in High Need Early Childhood Settings
  • Funded by U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (2015 – 2019)
  • Role: Principal Investigator
  • Award:  $1,232,603
Preparing Leaders in Early Childhood Studies and Implementation Science (PLECSIS)
  • Funded by US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (5/16/15 – 4/15/19)
  • Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • Award: $995,218
Embedded Instruction Pilot Project Years 1 and 2
  • Funded from Fresno County Superintendent of Schools
  • Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • Award:
    • Year 1: $303,780 (7/1/15 – 9/30/16)
    • Year 2: $300,000 (7/1/16 – 9/30/17)
Expansions of Learning Progressions
  • Funded from Johns Hopkins University, US Department of Education (1/1/15 – 5/30/15)
  • Role: Principal Investigator
  • Award: $114,983.38

Select Publications

McLean, M., Hemmeter, M.L., & Snyder, P.  (2014). Essential Elements for Assessing Infants and Preschoolers with Special Needs.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Publishing Co.

McLean, M. & Snyder, P.  (Editors) (2011). Young Exceptional Children Monograph #13: Gathering Information to Make Informed Decisions: Contemporary Perspectives about Assessment in Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education. Lawrence, KS: Allen Press.

Sandall, S., Hemmeter, M.L., Smith, B, & McLean, M.E. (2005).  DEC recommended practices in early  intervention/early childhood special education: A comprehensive guide.  Longmont, CO: Sopris West Publishing Co.

McLean, M., Wolery, M., & Bailey, D. (2004).  Assessing infants and preschoolers with special needs.  Columbus, OH: Merrill/Prentice-Hall.

Snyder, P., Hemmeter, M.L., McLean, M., Sandall, S., McLaughlin, T., & Algina, J. (2018).  Effects of professional development on preschool teachers’ use of embedded instruction practices. Exceptional Children, 84(2), 213-232.

McLean, M., Sandall, S. & Smith, B.J. (2016).   A history of early childhood special education.  In B. Reichow, B. A. Boyd, E. E. Barton & S. Odom (Eds.) Handbook of early childhood special education.  Springer Publishing Co.

Snyder, P., Rakap, S., Hemmeter, M.L., McLaughlin, T., Sandall, S & McLean, M.  (2015). Naturalistic instructional approaches in early learning: A systematic review. Journal of Early Intervention, 37 (1), 1-29.

McLean, M. (2015).   A history of the DEC recommended practices.  Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (2015). DEC Recommended Practices Monograph Series #1: An Overview of Evidence-Based Practices that Inform and Improve the Quality of Services Provided to Young Children with Disabilities and their Families. Los Angeles, CA: Author.

Snyder, P., Hemmeter, M. L., McLean, M., Sandall, S., & McLaughlin, T. (2012). Embedded instruction to support early learning in response to intervention frameworks.  In V. Buysse & E. Peisner-Feinberg (Eds.), Handbook of response-to-intervention in early childhood. Baltimore: Paul Brookes Publishing Co.

Bagnato, S., McLean, M., Macy, M. & Neisworth, J. (2011) Identifying instructional targets for early childhood via authentic assessment: Alignment of professional standards and practice- based evidence.   Journal of Early Intervention, 33(4), 243-253.

View full list of Dr. McLean Publications (pdf)

View Recent Publications for Anita Zucker Center Members

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