Special education administrators' perceptions of responsibilities and challenges
The role of the special education administrator is diverse and challenging. Since the inception of Public Law 94-142 (Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975), responsibilities of special education administrators continue to evolve and expand as the unique needs of students with disabilities are met in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This study addresses the leadership responsibilities and challenges of the special education administrator. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in background characteristics, responsibilities, and challenges between special education administrators in rural, suburban, and urban school districts in the state of Texas. Data from this study can provide information in the development of training programs and supports needed at the district level. Results from this study can provide information that can help target leadership skills that are necessary to address accountability, evidence-based practices, and inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education setting, as well as, other current issues. A non-experimental research design was utilized through survey methodology. The survey was developed based upon the first national study of special education administrators in public schools conducted by Kohl and Marro (1971). Maintaining some of the constructs of the original survey allowed longitudinal information to be obtained for comparison with the original survey. Quantitative data was collected from 152 special education administrators across the state of Texas who are currently serving in public school districts. A comparative study was conducted between special education administrators in rural, suburban, and urban districts using cross tabulation, frequency, and percentage tables. Other statistical measures such as analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Friedman Test were used, as appropriate. Results of this study indicate there are significant differences between special education administrators in rural, suburban, and urban school districts. Understanding the responsibilities and challenges of the special education administrator is critical to providing the necessary supports to retain highly qualified administrators.