Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, v. 33 no. 1, (February 2010) p. 70-82.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
Special education administrators must be prepared for their leadership roles in inclusive, culturally diverse, standards-based school settings. These challenges create the need for new skills, required for effective special education leaders in the 21st century.
In this article, the authors examine the standards used to prepare special education administrators. The authors offer new insights into the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate the inclusion of diverse students with disabilities in standards-based classrooms.
The standards that probably have the greatest influence on the preparation of special education administrators include those of the CEC (2003b) and the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC; Council of Chief State School Officers. 2008). These standards set forth statements about what administrators should know and be able to do.
The ISLLC standards provide concrete guiding principles for candidates who wish to become school leaders.
Unlike ISLLC, the CEC has developed 49 competencies specific to special education administrators. Building on competencies required of special education teachers, these competencies identify the additional knowledge and skills that special education administrators need.
Despite the comprehensiveness of the CEC and ISLLC standards, large gaps still exist with respect to the knowledge and skills that special education administrators need to facilitate the inclusion of diverse students with disabilities in standards-based classrooms.
The knowledge and skill areas that go beyond those reflected in the CEC and ISLIC standards include areas related to staff recruitment and retention,
equity issues, instructional leadership, collaboration, and assessment.
Although the CEC and ISLLC standards provide a strong foundation upon which to build with respect to the knowledge and skills required of special education administrators, the demands of today's diverse, inclusive, standards-based classrooms require knowledge and skills that go beyond those articulated by either set of standards.
special education administrators need new skills in areas related to the recruitment and retention of special education personnel, addressing equity issues in special education, providing instructional leadership, and addressing assessment issues.
To prepare special education administrators in these critical areas, preparation programs will need to explore innovative strategies.
Likewise, special education administrator preparation programs need to offer candidates extensive fieldwork experiences that provide opportunities to develop real-world problem-solving skills.
Beyond university course work, special education administrators should continue their professional development through involvement in professional organizations.
Council of Chief State School Officers. (2008). Education leadership policy standards: ISLLC 2008. Washington, DC: Author.
Council for Exceptional Children. (2003b). What every special educator must know: Ethics, standards, and guidelines for special educators. Arlington, VA: Author.