Margaret McLaughlin has been involved in special education all of her professional career, beginning as a teacher of students with serious emotional and behavior disorders. Currently she is the associate director of the Institute for the Study of Exceptional Children, a research institute within the College of Education at the University of Maryland. She directs several national projects investigating educational reform and students with disabilities, including the national Educational Policy Reform Research Institute (EPRRI), a consortium involving the University Maryland; The National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO); and the Urban Special Education Collaborative. She also directs a national research project investigating special education in charter schools and leads a policy leadership doctoral and postdoctoral program in conducting large-scale research in special education.
McLaughlin has worked in Bosnia, Nicaragua, and Guatemala in developing programs for students with developmental disabilities. She has consulted with numerous state departments of education and local education agencies on issues related to students with disabilities and the impact of standards-driven reform policies. McLaughlin co-chaired the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Goals 2000 and Students with Disabilities, which resulted in the report Educating One and All. She was a member of the NAS committee on the disproportionate representation of minority students in special education.
McLaughlin teaches graduate courses in disability policy and has written extensively in the area of school reform and students with disabilities. She earned her PhD at the University of Virginia and has held positions at the U.S. Office of Education and the University of Washington.