How Inclusion Will Affect Leadership
Inclusion is a reality in many districts, but how will this affect school leaders? Principals, special education directors, and staff at the district level will be responsible of leading the change to fully include students in their district. According to Voltz and Collins (2010) special education administrators need to know how to implement inclusion successfully in a standard based environment. The administrators will need leadership and vision in the guidance of not only special education teachers, but mainstream teachers as well. These leaders will need new skills to carry out that task.
The No Child Left Behind Legislation has mandated that all students meet certain standards of education regardless of disability. Though seen unrealistic by many, the goal is still the benchmark in which schools are graded for their effectiveness to educate. Collins cites Wigle and Wilcox (2002) by reporting that when 240 special education special education administrators were surveyed about the expectations of the Council for Exceptional Children the administrators felt they were only highly qualified in half the expectations. The lowest confidence was concerning collaboration, standards, and competencies.
One suggestion is offered by Lashley and Boscardin (2003). They contend that to be successful in the transformation to inclusion, the administrators need to integrate content from muli-cultural education, general education, and special education. Without this combination diverse students with disabilities will not be a successful endeavor in a standards based context. This combination will have to go beyond the CEC recommendations and will have to address equity issues, instructional leadership, and retention of those that have barriers to the change.
Innovative strategies will have to be implemented to prepare administrators for this change state Voltz and Collins (2010). The researchers that university faculty should find exemplary general education and special education who can collaborate and co-teach course work to present special education administrators who are working currently in the field. The study suggests an alignment with fieldwork that would provide experience in alignment and assessment of programs already set in place.