National Urban Special Education Leadership Initiative: Preparing Special Education Administrators; Absolute Priority: Preparation of Leadership Personnel, CFDA 84.325D, Type B – Abstract
“Special education administrators play a critical role in the implementation of successful inclusion in diverse, standards-based environments. They provide the vision and leadership necessary to guide educators in both general and special education as they deliver instructional programs to meet the needs of diverse students with disabilities.” (Voltz and Collins, 2010, p. 70) This project will address the critical need for highly qualified doctoral level urban school district special education administrators who possess both the research-validated knowledge and skills and the practical wisdom to develop, implement and evaluate exemplary programs, practices and services for students with disabilities.
“A shortage of any type of leader can seriously hamper the field’s infrastructure and hinder improved results of students with disabilities” (Smith, Robb, West and Tyler, 2010, p. 26). There is a critical need for school districts and school leaders to have full access to the best available research and practical wisdom and to receive strong support in transforming that knowledge into high-quality performance and continuous improvement for themselves and for those they lead. “Over the past decade, dramatic changes have put education leadership at the forefront of education policy research and debate.” (Education Leadership Policy Standards: ISLLC 2008; p.3). Equally important is “a unified, collective vision for the 21st century learning that will strengthen American education.” (www.p21.org, 2009) While we now have a clearer vision of the knowledge, skills and expertise essential for today’s preK-12 students of all abilities, we need to recognize the importance of having special education administrators with the competence to lead in the schools and programs that will enable all students to obtain these 21st century skills.
The program will be grounded in the advanced standards for Special Education Administrators (Council for Exceptional Children, 2009 & 2012) and cross walked with the Educational Leadership Policy Standards: ISLLC 2008 (ISLLC, 2008). The program is based on a collaborative, transformational leadership model and includes mentoring from expert current school leaders both locally and nationally based, web-based networking and structured clinical experiences derived from prior successful work with mid-level special education in urban school districts. The integrated and intense curricula and practicum experiences will include cross-cutting work on the essential content, structure, resources, context and collaborative considerations of high quality special education programs in urban settings. Internships with community educational organization, Orange County Public Schools and the University of Central Florida Urban Initiative will be serve as the research base for Dissertations in Practice.
The University of Central Florida will partner with the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative, Orange County Public Schools, a high need, high poverty, urban Local Education Agency as well as other high-need urban school districts in the UCF area. The project will provide three major outcomes/products: (1) Implementation of a model program for an Education Doctorate (Ed.D.) degree with a specialization in Special Education Leadership for urban special education administrators; (2) Creation of a cadre of experts in special education urban leadership to act as a National Faculty; (3) Graduation of twelve (12) urban special education administration fellows with the Ed.D.degree.