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A STEP BEYOND INCLUSION: A CASE STUDY OF WHAT ONE PRINCIPAL DID TO IMPROVE ACHIEVEMENT FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

by

Maryellen Royce February 21, 2008

A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the State University of New York at Buffalo in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Education

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy

UMI Number: 3307595

Copyright 2008 by Royce, Maryellen All rights reserved.

UMI Microform 3307595 Copyright 2008 by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. This microform edition is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code.

ProQuest Information and Learning Company 300 North Zeeb Road P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346

Copyright by Maryellen Royce, Ed. D. 2008

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Dedication and Acknowledgements For years, I have thought about writing about principal leadership and special education. I am truly grateful to my advisor, Rose Ylimaki, for helping me put my thoughts into words. Her guidance and direction kept me focused and on track. I would also like to thank the members of my dissertation committee, Lori Johnson and Steve Jacobson for helping give voice to my ideas. Without their help, I would still be floundering in an ocean of data. As I think of my formative leadership learning and experiences, I am especially grateful for the scholarly influence, friendship, and support of three people. First, I am grateful to my dear friend Sharon Raimondi, who encouraged me from my earliest days in education to pursue a doctorate and who asked me regularly, Are you finished yet? My gratitude extends to Michael Wischnowski whose wisdom shaped my thinking about leadership and whose guidance stretched the raw materials of my writing skills. Finally, I am grateful to Marilyn Kurzawa. I was lucky to learn about excellent leadership firsthand by working under her employ. I am luckier to have studied leadership in collaboration with her and luckier still to call her my friend. I am truly blessed by the people who have influenced my thinking about leadership and life. I will long be grateful to Dr. Corrie Giles for writing on my first doctoral-level paper, thoughtfully conceptualized and beautifully written, and for his kindness and generosity in taking me and other students with him to study leadership in English schools. My trip to England was one of the high points of my academic journey, and his thoughts have shaped mine. As I count my blessings, I want to recognize publicly my gratitude to my husband, Steven. He provided encouragement and unwavering support. Moreover, he was uncomplaining through the missed holiday parties, hastily prepared dinners, and weekends when I spent my time writing and studying instead of paying attention to him. His good heart has touched me.

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I wish to extend a special word of thanks to my son, Andrew, for his willingness to drop everything and help me to understand my computer. I am grateful to my dear mother, who gave her time so willingly to help proofread my work and sing my praises. No list of gratitude could be complete without mentioning my sister, Marjorie. She has been my lifelong best friend. I am grateful to my extended family, friends, and co-workers for understanding that I needed to write this paper and granting me the time to do so. Thank you for your kindness and patience. Blessings on you, everyone!

Table of Contents Page Dedication and Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii Table of Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v List of Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xii Chapter I. Introduction to the Study and Statement of the Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Research Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Research Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Focus on Student Achievement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Significance of the Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 II. Literature Review and Conceptual Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Relevant Accountability Policies: Federal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Federal Special Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Federal General Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Federal Accountability Measures and the principalship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Relevant Accountability Policies: New York State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Principal Leadership and Special Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 The Principalship and Inclusive Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Leadership and Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Domain of Direction Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

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Case Studies Noting Aspects of Direction Setting . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Direction Setting and General Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Direction Setting and Special Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Domain of Personnel Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Case Studies noting Personnel Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Personnel Development and General Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Personnel Development and Special Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Domain of Organizational Redesign. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Case Studies Noting Organizational Redesign. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Organizational Redesign and General Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Organizational Redesign and Special Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 III. Case Study Methodology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Methodology for this Case Study. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Selection and Recruitment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Primary Participant: Principal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Data Sources and Collection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Instructions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Individual Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Administrator of Special Education Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Principal Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Teacher Interviews. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Support Staff Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Focus Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

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Teacher Focus Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Parent Focus Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Student Focus Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Other Data Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73 Data Analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Reflexivity: Interviewer and Negotiated Space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Trustworthiness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Confidentiality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 IV. Description and Background of the Case Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 History and Demographics of the District . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 History and Demographics Related to Special Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Enrollment Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 District-wide Special Education Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Continuum of Special Education Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Co-Teaching Background and History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Districts Fiscal Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .92 District Supports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Flexible Staffing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Time for Collaboration and Preparation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Professional Development for Co-Teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 History of the Schools Leadership. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 School-Based Special Education Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Continuum of Services at Empire Elementary School . . . . . . . . 97

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V.

Findings of Successful Leadership and Special Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Leaders Attitudes and Beliefs about Special Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 The Importance of Safe, Orderly Learning Environments. . . . . . . . . . . 103 Attitudes of Trust in Staffs Judgment, Expertise, and Professionalism 106 Conception of Power as Shared Power and Collaboration. . . . . . . . . . . 108 Commitment to a Culture of Authentic Collaboration . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 Leaders Attitudes and Beliefs about Student Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 Moral Purpose and Belief That All Children Can and Will Learn . . . . 112 Educational Equity and Focus on Learning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113 Ethics of Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Great Expectations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Leaders Knowledge of Special Education and Student Achievement . . . . . . . 119 Leaders Skills and Habits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Building Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Reflection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Leadership Practices: Skills and Strategies for Student Success . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Parent Outreach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .125 Data Sharing and Assessment Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 Building the Capacity of the School to Meet Students Needs . . . . . . . 128 Collaborative Scoring of Student Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 Continuous Learning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131 Supervision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132 Mixing up Unproductive Teams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .133

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Maximizing Resources to Manage the Instructional Program . . 134 Collaborative Learning and Problem Solving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Leadership Practices: Structures for Managing the Instructional Program . . . . 136 Co-Teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 Affective Benefits of Co-Teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .139 Common Planning Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140 Instructional Support Teams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 Proximity and Communication Structures for Instructional Management . . . . 143 Principals Meetings with Special Education Teachers . . . . . . . 144 Leadership Practices and Special Education Achievement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Teachers Perceptions of the Principals Influence on Achievement . . 146 VI. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Summary of General Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Surprises: Support for Co-Teaching Within the Least Restrictive Environment . . . . 153 Connections to Theoretical Underpinnings and the Extant Literature. . . . . . . . 154 Connections to the Domains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 Domain of Direction Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Creating Expectations for High Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Managing the Instructional Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Domain of Personnel Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160 Domain of Organizational Redesign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .163

Strengthening School Cultures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 Modifying Existing School Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164 Building Collaborative Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 Connection to Special Education Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 Connections to the Co-Teaching Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169 Key Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169 Extensions of the Literature: Importance of Beliefs and Attitudes . . . . 171 Ethics of Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172 VII. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Limitations of a Single Case Study. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Limitations Due to Demographics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176 Implications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177 Implications for Research. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177 Implications for Practice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .178 Contributions and Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179 Contributions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179 Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180 Final Conclusions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182 Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179

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List of Figures Figure 1 Display of Students with Disabilities Participating in ELA Assessments in District Schools . . . 83 2 Display of Students with Disabilities Participating in Mathematics Assessments in District Schools . . 83 3 4 Continuum of Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Data Collected in Support of Claims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Page

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Abstract There is a growing interest in what principals do to improve learning for students with disabilities. This interest is fueled by the need for all students, including students with disabilities, to achieve at high levels. In light of the requirements of No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), principals need to step beyond understanding special education and implementing programs to uncovering the practices, beliefs and attitudes that make a difference in outcomes for students with disabilities. Using case study methodology, this study examines one principals leadership for the purpose of identifying those practices, beliefs and attitudes that are perceived to contribute to achievement as measured by attainment of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for students with disabilities. The term principals practices includes not only the procedures and actions followed on a regular basis, but also the strategies adopted to enhance the management of the building and outcomes attributed to the school. The study looks at two additional questions. What knowledge is perceived to be essential for principals to carry out leadership tasks related to special education? What skills are perceived to be necessary for principals to acquire in order to perform tasks related to special education leadership? The focus of this study is on a principals practices as they relate to students with disabilities and their achievement as measured by Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB. This case study examines the principals leadership as the unit of analysis, and builds on an earlier study developed by Jacobson, Brooks, Giles, Johnson, and Ylimaki (2004). Many of the protocols used in this study were developed and used by Jacobson et al. (2004). While Jacobson et al (2004) studied exemplary leadership practices in challenging schools; this study seeks to better understand leadership practices for students with disabilities.

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Despite increasingly large numbers of students with disabilities who were transferred to this school by the district, the school continued to achieve AYP for the total school population and also for all subgroups including students with disabilities. During the 2004-05 school year, one-third of the students who took the elementary ELA were classified as students with disabilities. The argument is made that the principals leadership has positively influenced that outcome.

Chapter I Introduction to the Study and Statement of the Problem The National Center for Education Statistics reported that 13.7% of total school enrollment, nationally, was comprised of students with disabilities in the 2003-04 school year. In New York State, 15.5% of pre-school to grade 12 students are classified as students with disabilities (National Center for Education Statistics). In light of these statistics, there is a growing interest in what principals do to improve learning for students with disabilities. This interest is fueled by the need for all students, including students with disabilities, to achieve at high levels. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (20 USC 6301) holds schools publicly accountable for all students progress towards meeting state academic content standards, and requires all students to participate in statewide assessments (US Department of Education, 2002). No Child Left Behind (NCLB) calls for state assessment data to be disaggregated by subgroups including the subgroup of students with disabilities. Further, NCLB calls for all students to reach proficiency level in mathematics and literacy by spring of 2014. Student with disability is the term used to define a student who meets disability criteria defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Act, and is classified by a multidisciplinary team as disabled. An individual education plan (IEP) is designed for the student, and he or she is entitled to the supports and educational services described in it at no cost. Moreover, due process rights and procedural safeguards protect a student with a disability. Many scholars (Friend & Cook, 2003; Villa, Thousand & Nevin, 2004; Jorgensen, Schuh, & Nisbet, 2006) use the term inclusion. While the use of the term inclusion is widespread, there is no one uniform, agreed upon definition of the word, and there are no references to the term inclusion in either special education law or regulation. I use the term

least restrictive environment to indicate that there is a continuum of placements for students with disabilities, and the general education classroom is the least restrictive placement. Ysseldyke, Algozzine, and Thurlow (2000) state, The principle used in deciding where a student should receive special education is called the least restrictive environment [LRE] (p.83). Provision of educational services and supports for students with disabilities in the general education setting has become a major component of the special education reform agenda. Schools, districts, and states must demonstrate that they are making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) towards the goal of all students reaching proficiency, including students with disabilities. NCLB describes a continuum of penalties attached to those schools where students do not achieve AYP. Schools generally considered high performing are now designated as schools in need of improvement (SINI), because their subgroup of students with disabilities did not achieve AYP for two years in a row. In order to progress in the general education curriculum, students with disabilities receive specially designed instruction to meet their unique learning needs (Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 2006). As a result of this specialized instruction, there is the expectation that students with disabilities will progress in the general education curriculum. If a significant number of these students do not progress, the school is penalized. Research Problem Smith and Colon (1998) offer the opinion that: The most complex and difficult educational task for administrators today seems to be understanding and implementing special education (p.40). In light of the requirements of NCLB, principals must step beyond understanding and implementing special education or even inclusion practices to uncovering

the practices, beliefs and attitudes that make a difference in outcomes for students with disabilities. This study examines perceptions about a principals practices for the purpose of identifying those elements of practice perceived to contribute to achievement as measured by attainment of AYP for students with disabilities. The following research questions will guide this study: Research Questions 1. What leadership practices, beliefs and attitudes, of the schools principal are perceived to contribute to academic achievement for students with disabilities as measured by AYP? The term principals practices includes not only the procedures and actions followed on a regular basis, but also the strategies and structures adopted to enhance the management of the building and outcomes attributed to the school. 2. What knowledge is perceived to be essential for principals to carry out leadership tasks related to special education? 3. Finally, what skills are perceived to be necessary for principals to acquire in order to perform tasks related to special education leadership? There are many measures of principals success as they relate to students with disabilities. These measures include, but are not limited to parent satisfaction, student satisfaction, student engagement in class, student engagement in after school activities, rates of post-school employment, improvements in social interaction, responding, and/or engagement in instruction, and rate of program completion. McGregor and Vogelsberg (1998) analyzed outcomes for students with disabilities placed in regular schools in 54 research studies. Their analysis listed 126 findings; however, only six were related to academic achievement. While

there is no doubt that other measures are worthwhile, there are far too few studies that examine academic achievement for students with disabilities. Focus on Student Achievement The heart of this study centers on achievement for students with disabilities as measured by Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB. Prior to NCLB, students with disabilities were often exempted from school-wide testing, and when they did participate, their efforts were not always scored or included in the schools results (DiPaola, Tschannen-Morgan, WaltherThomas, 2004). It is my hope that through this study, exemplary principal practices will be identified. It is also possible, however, that a principal, whose practices lead to achievement of AYP for students with disabilities, may not follow well-accepted norms of instructional methodology. To illustrate this point, it may be found that a principal who insists that English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics be taught during time that should be allocated to teaching social studies, science, foreign language, art, physical education and/or music, achieves AYP. Another example is that a principal might insist that the bulk of instructional time be spent on the drill of basic facts and test practice and preparation. Both of these practices result in a narrow, unbalanced, and irrelevant curriculum. Should I uncover that a principal shortchanges students balanced education in favor of practices designed to improve only test results instead of instituting exemplary practice that is also significant. Kim and Sunderman (2005) assert that AYP is an inadequate measure of real academic progress, and is more closely correlated to poverty than to academic results. Linn and Haug (2002) criticize the use of successive cohorts of students for school accountability purposes and to measure school improvement. They argue that with different students, different results can be expected. In order to show actual improvement, the same students must be retested. While

AYP is an imperfect measure of learning, it is the measure to which schools are held accountable and, as such, is the indicator that I have selected to use to measure academic progress. Significance of the Study This study is significant because school leaders are now held publicly accountable for the academic achievement of all students, including students with disabilities. The expectation is that the majority of students with disabilities will meet the same achievement measures as general education students, if they are provided the general education curriculum with appropriate adaptations, supplementary aids, support, and special education services. As the bar for proficiency in literacy and mathematics is raised ever higher, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for schools to meet AYP. In New York State, even good schools in good districts are experiencing difficulty and are appearing on schools in need of improvement lists. Principals have a need and a strong desire to know what they can do to facilitate optimal learning in their schools for students with disabilities. In order to understand the demands made on principals, the following chapter will provide an in-depth look at the accountability policies related to principals and students with disabilities. After reviewing accountability policies, I reviewed literature on principal leadership of general and special education.

Chapter II Literature Review and Conceptual Framework Special Education and programs for students with limited English proficiency are two programs that have been developed to meet the needs of groups of children who were failing to learn in the public school system. This paper examines accountabilities in only one program, special education. Relevant Accountability Policies: Federal Federal Special Education The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142, Part B) was passed in 1975 to assure all children receive a free and appropriate education (FAPE), by requiring the development of individual educational plans (IEPs) for students classified as disabled. Eligibility for special education is based on two factors. First, a multidisciplinary team must determine that the student has a disability in one of the categories specified in the law. Second, the student must have a need for special education and related services based on that disability (McLaughlin & Nolet, 2004). Another provision of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act is the least restrictive environment (LRE) clause, which states that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are to be educated with nondisabled peers. LRE is the legal term for what is commonly referred to as inclusion. Public Law 94-142 makes federal funds available to states for the purpose of assisting school districts in providing special education (Bateman & Bateman, 2001). Public Law 94-142 was reauthorized in 1986 (PL 99-457) and required states to extend FAPE to children age three to five, and established early intervention programs for infants and toddlers less than three years of age. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed

to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and to provide equal opportunity for employment and equal access to public services. In 1990 the Education of all Handicapped Children Act was again reauthorized and was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (PL 101-476). In 1997, IDEA was amended (PL 105-17), and the new legislation required that students with disabilities continue to receive services even though they had been suspended from school, tightened transition-planning requirements and called for students with disabilities to have access to the general education curriculum including state and district assessments. In order to ensure equity and opportunity, IDEA (1997) mandated that the scores of students with disabilities in all state assessments be included in the schools and the districts accountability measures. IDEA (1997) laid the groundwork for the accountability provisions of NCLB. In 2004, IDEA was again reauthorized and became known as the Individuals with Disabilities (Improvement) Act (Public Law 108-446). This reauthorization reiterated the principles of NCLB and presented progress monitoring and response to intervention (RTI) strategies as tools to reduce the number of students classified as learning disabled and to improve the academic results for students with disabilities and those students at risk of being identified as a student with a disability. Progress monitoring and response to intervention strategies incorporate the use of scientific methods to select, implement, and monitor instructional progress in the classroom. Daily documentation of the impact of instruction on student learning is an important feature of RTI. Instructional decisions are data-driven and supported by evidence (Brown-Chidsey, Steege, 2005). On April 9, 2007, regulation was passed to permit states flexibility in achieving AYP for the subgroup of students with disabilities. Title I of the Elementary and Secondary

Education Act (ESEA), as amended by NCLB, permits states to develop an assessment that is appropriately challenging for the small group of students whose disability precludes them from achieving grade-level proficiency in the same time frame as other students. States have had flexibility in developing alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with most significant cognitive disabilities. These students compromise approximately 1% of all students assessed. Recent research and experience indicates that there is an additional group of students whose cognitive disabilities are such that they cannot be expected to achieve proficiency in grade level assessments, states are now permitted to design modified academic achievement standards and assessments for an additional 2% of all students assessed. Federal General Education The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, passed into law in 1965, was the first major U.S. federal legislation to provide federal funding for public schools. ESEA has been reauthorized numerous times since 1965, including the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (PL 107-110), the most recent reauthorization of ESEA. The current law is more specific in both its requirements and accountability measures than any of the prior iterations of ESEA. The current law calls for full participation of all students in the assessments used for statewide accountability. Furthermore, it requires that the scores of students with disabilities and other sub-population categories be disaggregated from each schools total scores. The scores of the sub-populations are held to the same accountability measures as the measures established for the entire school. As a result of the reform movement of the 1990s, schools were held to higher standards and public accountability for student results became the norm. In the beginning of the

accountability movement, students with disabilities were often informally exempted from testing. Many schools began the practice of focusing their efforts and resources on moving the most capable students to the next higher level, and the students who were in the middle and lower ends of each level were largely ignored. DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003) state: NCLB redefined the federal governments role in K-12 education to ensure that no children especially those with the greatest learning needs are neglected in the standards-driven learning environments (p.5). Adequate Yearly Progress is an individual states measure of yearly progress toward the goal of all students achieving proficiency in academic standards for literacy and math. Each state develops an AYP formula that must be approved by the federal Department of Education. Each school is expected to make yearly progress in increasing the number of students who attain proficiency. The AYP requirements of NCLB are the main mechanisms for improving school performance and the academic achievement of different sub-groups of students (Kim & Sunderman, 2005). Moreover, the accountability provisions of NCLB include penalties for schools and districts that fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress on statewide assessments (NCLB, 2001, Sec. 1111 [b][2] [G] [iii]). A continuum of penalties is part of the incentive for school leaders to pay particular attention to the progress of their sub-populations of students. Penalties range from, at one end, notification given to parents of their right to transfer their child to another school, to, at the other end, revoking the schools registration, which results in school closure and dissolution. Federal Accountability Measures and the Principalship The role of principal as educational leader and architect of school structures is significant. Studies about successful integration of students with disabilities into general

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education attribute the cooperation and commitment of the building principal as a key factor (Shnorr, Black, & Davern, 2000). While many schools and districts were slowly moving in the direction of providing for the needs of most students in the general education classroom, provisions in NCLB and IDEA pushed them to reexamine their policies and procedures addressing special education placements and programs for their students with disabilities. NCLB added the element of urgency to achieve at high levels to the schooling mix for students with disabilities. Both NCLB and IDEA 2004 are educational policies that have reshaped how educational progress is understood. No Child Left Behind calls for scientifically-based research as the standard for teachers to use when selecting instructional strategies and programs. The Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 requires that teachers collect data about student performance and incorporate scientific methods in instructing students who are having difficulty progressing in the general education curriculum. Together, these two educational laws have redefined the role of the federal Department of Education in state and local education for general education students as well as for students receiving special education services. While the federal government passes laws and develops regulations that must be followed by all state and local education agencies, each state passes conforming laws. States may elect to pass legislation that result in increased educational benefits to the student. For instance, if the federal law requires that a student with a disability be provided a Level 1 vocational assessment at age 15, the state could stipulate that the student be provided such an assessment at age 14. In the following section, I describe New York States educational policies.

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Relevant Accountability Policies: New York State Prior to passage of the NCLB legislation, New York State had its own system of accountability. That system called for rigorous assessments for all students at designated grade levels in literacy, mathematics, social studies, science, and foreign language. The revised New York State accountability system incorporates the provisions of IDEA 97 and requires that the scores for students with disabilities be included in the schools accountability index. At the high school level, provisions were made for students with disabilities who were unsuccessful in the general state assessment to take alternate competency tests. For students with severe disabilities, alternate achievement standards and methods of assessing progress were available. As a result of IDEA 2004, the state education agency of New York State is required to develop performance plans using quantitative and qualitative indicators to measure and monitor progress in 20 key areas. New York States plan, like other states plans, addresses three priority areas: 1. ensure FAPE in the least restrictive environment; 2. eliminate the disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education and in specific disability categories; 3. provide effective supervisory authority. The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is required to intervene if state education departments fail to motivate districts and schools to comply with the legislation. Federal funds are given to states for distribution to districts. If the state education agency is ineffective in ensuring compliance in the 20 key indicators, federal flow-through money will be diminished, withheld, or even recovered. Compliance with this law has become a major concern for principals and special education administrators.

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New York State laws and regulations have been revised to conform to IDEA 2004. Federal regulations were issued in October 2006 and again in October 2007. These regulations further define and describe the provisions of IDEA 2004. Federal regulation allowing states to develop modified standards and assessment has been passed. It will be interesting to note how New York State responds to this new challenge. While federal laws have described the components of equitable and effective education for students with disabilities, compliance with these components will become increasingly important to principals. Principal Leadership and Special Education In a seminal study of the concept of least restrictive environment, leadership practices were examined as they relate to placement of students classified as disabled. Stetson (1979) used grounded theory methodology to interview 140 administrators from 11 school districts in eight states regarding effective administrative strategies to integrate students with severe disabilities in the least restrictive environment. More specifically, Talley and Burnette (1982) conducted a parallel study in 33 school districts across five states that examined effective strategies used to include students with mild disabilities in the least restrictive environment. Together, these studies looked at the leadership practices that support students with severe disabilities as well as mild impairments. As a result of these studies, seven critical administrative factors crucial to the implementation of LRE were identified. These critical factors are organizational support for the LRE concept, selection of appropriate service delivery patterns, assignment of personnel, a responsive staff development program, school personnel acceptance of LRE, community acceptance of LRE and parental acceptance of LRE. Raimondi (1986) in her study of districts identified as needing assistance also found those critical leadership factors were linked to successful implementation of LRE. These seven critical

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leadership factors may parallel leadership actions on behalf of students with disabilities and shed light on effective administrative practices as they relate to improving academic achievement for students with disabilities. While acknowledging that LRE is the foundation for programming for students with disabilities, their academic achievement in the general education curriculum, and compliance with Special Education law, I noted that much of the literature on the subject of LRE and leadership discussed the concept of LRE as if it were the end-goal for students with disabilities. Literature that is more recent suggests that LRE is the means of attaining academic achievement. DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003) move away from the notion of special education being a place and posit that special education should be an integrated system of supports and services designed to assist students with disabilities within the least restrictive environment. With the purpose of informing scholars and policymakers on the preparation of special education professionals, DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003) discuss the role and impact of the principal on beginning teachers and student outcomes. DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003) reviewed the literature on principal leadership and special education and found four studies published between 1998 and 2001 on this topic. They state: Research has demonstrated that principals who focus on instructional issues, demonstrate administrative support for special education, and provide high-quality professional development for teachers produce enhanced outcomes for students with disabilities and others at risk of school failure (p.9). Focusing on instructional issues, demonstrating support for special education, and providing high-quality professional development are appropriate tasks for principals. It is important to note, however, that the four studies cited by DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003)

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use the term enhanced outcomes to describe the result of the principals actions. In these studies, the term enhanced outcomes covers a broad range of quality indicators, and includes such indicators as increased rate of response and students partiality for a course. The enhanced outcomes in these studies do not come close to the standard of rigor necessary for students to achieve AYP. Heumann and Hehir (1998), in an article written for principals in their official capacities as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and Director of the Office of Special Education, respectively, state that the strongest links to improving outcomes for students with disabilities can be accomplished by addressing five key areas. Without discussing specific research studies or research methods, Heumann and Hehir state they base their findings on the results of the National Longitudinal Transition Study and IDEA 1997. The five key areas are: 1. Involvement and progress of students with disabilities in the full range of curricula and programs available to nondisabled children and the supports, services, and modifications that they need to learn effectively in those curricula and programs, as determined through the development of an Individualized Education Plan, including general curricula and vocational education and work experience; 2. The participation of children with disabilities in state and district-wide assessments of student achievement; 3. The provision of transition services to enable students with disabilities to move effectively from school to post-school independence and achievement; 4. Educating children with disabilities with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate; 5. Encouraging parent, student, and regular education personnel participation in the development and implementation of educational programs for children with disabilities (p.1). Many special education scholars (Bateman & Bateman, 2001; Burrello, Lashley & Beatty, 2000; Hall & Hord, 2001; Havelock & Hamilton, 2004; Friend & Cook, 2003; Villa and

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Thousand, 2003) acknowledge the impact of principals leadership practices on student outcomes. Unlike the general education literature that links leadership indirectly with student learning, few research studies are able to show connections between principals practices and the indirect effect of improved achievement for students with disabilities. No recent large-scale studies have looked into principals practices even though students with disabilities comprise 13.7% (National Center for Education Statistics) of the nations student population. The Principalship and Inclusive Practices Issues related to diversity fall within the realm of general education, and appeal to the basic need for fairness and equality. While the concept of inclusiveness has particular relevance to students with disabilities, this concept is far broader and entails the willingness to embrace all students, without labeling, defining, limiting or segregating them, within the general education program of the school. In this paper, I use the term inclusive practices to indicate this willingness. As a point of clarification, occasionally, the term inclusion is used in this paper. Inclusion refers to the practice of providing educational services to students with disabilities in the general education setting. Thus, the term inclusive practices refers to a general education approach to schooling; the term inclusion refers to a specific approach to special education services. In analyzing the literature related to inclusive schooling, social justice, diversity and principal leadership, Riehl (2000) identifies three administrative tasks: fostering new meanings about diversity, promoting inclusive practices within schools, and building relationships between the school and the community. Riehls three administrative tasks are inclusive of the many types of diversity including but not limited to race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and disability.

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Ryan (2006) sketches a design for inclusive schooling that goes beyond leaderships usual focus on deep moral purpose. In the hopes of contributing to a fairer world, he discusses the meaning of excluding students from key educational processes. He voices concern that schools marginalized students in order to obtain a system that runs without conflicts and argues that the system for schooling children must change. Ryan (2006) suggests, however, that leaders think about inclusive practices, and include other members of the school community in discussion about inclusive practices. Moreover, he calls for leaders to advocate for inclusion, educate and help others to develop a critical awareness of exclusion. Further, he points to the need to incorporate inclusive practices, promote critical dialogue, and emphasize student learning. He suggests that it is a leaders role to lead dialogue, promote conversation about exclusionary practices. He advocates for principals to provide education to the whole school community about issues related to practices that educate students with disabilities in the LRE and practices that exclude students from the general education settings. Ryan states that inclusive practices are most effective in schools that emphasize student learning and teaching practice that strive to improve both the capacities and commitment of professional educators (p. 12). In another seminal work, Capper (1993) discusses the underlying assumption of most schools, which is to provide diverse students with the skills, and knowledge they need to be successful. Capper refers to this as the assimilationist approach, and suggests that it is a deficit model where students must be helped to be more like the other students. She argues that this approach does not comment on mainstream society nor is the student encouraged to critique society. She posits that providing multicultural and social reconstructionist education could benefit all students educated in a democratic society. Capper (1993) suggests an approach

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that focuses on infusing equity into the curriculum, student learning experiences, classroom space, textbook adoption, and professional development. Further, she suggests that decisionmaking teams and committees should include representation that reflects school demographics. In order to be critically self-aware, leaders should collect and analyze data to understand specific aspects of the school. She suggests leaders look for opportunities to make a difference, take action to empower sub-groups, and establish a safe school climate. Capper, Frattura and Keyes (2000) argue that schools need to offer a service delivery model designed to meet the needs of students rather than offer separate programs for students who do not fall within the norm. Capper et al. (2000) recommend that the administrators responsibilities shift to developing a school vision to include the merger of all services to wrap around students based on the students needs. Additionally, in this model, principals may need to provide emotional support for the staff as roles evolve to meet the needs of students. The next section describes the conceptual framework that will structure this study. Leadership and Learning School leadership is second only to classroom instruction among all school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school (Leithwood, Lewis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom, 2004, p. 5). The authors go on to state: the direct and indirect effects of leadership on student learning account for about a quarter of total school effects (p.5). Along this same vein, Leithwood et al. (2004) claim: While the evidence shows small but significant effects of leadership actions on student learning across the spectrum of schools, existing research also shows that demonstrated effects of successful leadership are considerably greater in schools that are in more difficult circumstances. Indeed, there are virtually no documented instances of troubled schools being turned around without interventions by a powerful leader (p. 5).

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Marzanos (2003b) meta-analysis on effective schools and student learning points out that there is a 44-percentage point increase in pass rates in effective schools as compared to ineffective schools. This translates to a 72 percent expected pass rate on a test in an effective school as compared to a 28 percent pass rate in an ineffective school. Marzano, Walters, and McNulty (2004) in their meta-analysis of 69 empirical studies on the leadership behaviors of principals as they correlate to student achievement, state there is a .25 correlation between a principals leadership ability and student achievement. Further, they identify 21 specific principal leadership responsibilities and correlate an effect size for each of the responsibilities. Cotton (2003) analyzed data from 81 post-1985 research articles and identified 25 categories of principal behaviors that positively influenced student achievement. Cottons categories are very similar to the 21 leadership responsibilities identified by Marzano et al. (2004). Thus, in a broad sense, it is widely accepted, and evidence supports, that the practices of principals can result in increased learning (Leithwood et al., 2004; Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2004; Williams, Kirst, Haertel et al., 2005). It should be noted that the above-mentioned studies relate to general education, and contain no specific findings related to special education. Leithwood and Riehl (2003), in a meta-analysis of the literature on leadership practices, identify three broad categories of basic leadership practices that lead to students academic success. These practices include setting directions (p. 17), developing people (p. 19), and redesigning the organization (p. 20). These three broad categories of leadership practices form a core set of basic leadership practices . . . valuable in almost all contexts (Leithwood & Riehl, 2003, p. 16). Recently, Leithwood (2006) added a fourth broad category, specific to education, managing the instructional program (p. 194). To provide better alignment with new leadership studies, a few of the sub-skills within the broad categories were shifted.

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For the purposes of this research study, and in order to separate my work form their work, I refer to Leithwood and Riehls (2003) categories to as the domains of direction setting, personnel development, and organization redesign. These domains provide the framework for my investigation of scholarly articles and research studies on the topic of principals practices as they relate to general education, and especially as they relate to special education. The studies I have selected fall within the three broad categories, and I have embedded the category of managing the instructional program into the three broad domains. After further describing Leithwood and Riehls (2003) categories of effective leadership practices, I examine a study that illustrates those categories. Jacobson, Brooks, Giles, Johnson, and Ylimaki (2004) describe the practices of three principals in high-poverty, urban, elementary schools. The principals in each of these schools were identified as successful leaders prior to the initiation of the study. There is little discussion as to how the principals were selected. However, the data collected about the principals indicate the principals were perceived by most of their constituents to be effective leaders. Because of insufficient resources and the complexities of urban settings, these high poverty schools are often considered difficult to manage and hard to lead. Much can be learned about the practices of three effective principals from the study of their urban, elementary schools. In this paper, I relate the findings from Jacobson et al. (2004) to each of the three broad categories, which I refer to as domains. To further broaden and develop the domains, I am including other relevant studies. Finally, I contrast the body of literature from general education to those studies that are specific to special education. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) state, Efforts to improve educational leadership should build upon the foundation of well-documented and well-accepted knowledge about leadership

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that already exists (p.36). In order to understand which effective leadership practices make a difference in student achievement for students with disabilities, I hope to uncover and then build on well-documented and well-accepted knowledge and practices. Domain of Direction Setting Direction setting is the first body of literature that I use to examine the influence that principals have on student achievement. Helping others to develop a clear, compelling understanding of the organization, its goals and purposes is critical to motivating others. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) identify three aspects of effective leadership that relate to direction setting. These aspects include identifying and articulating a vision, fostering the acceptance of group goals, and creating expectations for high performance. Embedded throughout this category are two notions. First, a leader uses collaborative skills to develop jointly held beliefs about the goals and purposes of the organization. Second, an organization must be actively pursuing improvement if it is to thrive and survive. In order to set direction effectively, Leithwood and Riehl (2003) identify three additional leadership competencies: monitoring progress, communication, and creating opportunities to discuss important issues. The leader must develop a system for collecting, analyzing and monitoring organizational progress. Without a structure for collecting, analyzing and monitoring data, improvement cannot be measured or documented. To create a complete and accurate picture of the school, multiple sources of data must be used (Bernhardt, 1998). By monitoring progress, a principal can determine the need for additional support, professional development, and/or a more focused leadership approach. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) identify effective communication as a second essential competency needed for setting direction. The leader must be able to frame issues and to create

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opportunities to discuss important concepts and concerns with stakeholders (Leithwood & Riehl, 2003). To strengthen communication, a principal must tune in to the changing needs of the school, have the capacity to listen to unpleasant messages, and find constructive methods of reaching understanding and agreement (Leithwood & Riehl, 2003). Furthermore, it is necessary to develop processes for sharing communication with constituents. Leithwood (2006) further enhances the category of setting directions by including: holding high performance expectations, setting goals to guide action, and building a shared vision (p. 189). Aspects of this domain are further exemplified in the following case studies. Case studies noting aspects of direction setting. Using case study methodology, Jacobson et al. (2004), set out to look at three successful leaders in three high-poverty, urban elementary schools. All three principals began by creating a safe and orderly environment. While increasing student achievement was the change agenda in all three schools, the environment where students were expected to learn and succeed academically needed to be created. Teachers in all three schools expressed relief and sometimes gratitude that an orderly environment was restored. All three case studies note that effective discipline strategies were essential to the perception of effective principal leadership. Moreover, it appeared that the principals took a strong hand in initially establishing the safe and orderly environment. All three principals expressed the conviction that students must be treated with respect; constituents in all three schools gave examples of the ways in which the principals were perceived as respectful of students. In one of the schools studied by Jacobson et al. (2004), the researchers relate that prior to the successful principals tenure, the school had the reputation throughout the district as

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being a bad school. Low test scores and poor student behavior corroborated that reputation. The principal, who was a registered nurse before becoming a principal, focused her attention on school safety and security. Jacobson et al. (2004) suggest that her broader vision was to create a caring learning environment for students and teachers alike. They found The principal was the individual most often cited by respondents as being the driving force behind the school now successfully meeting the needs of students (p. 15). The case study indicates the principal modeled high expectations, held people responsible, expressed concern for students welfare, and was firm in her belief that the students could be successful. The findings include reports by teachers that they were encouraged to go beyond teaching the basics by helping students develop socially appropriate behaviors and functional skills. While the constituents of this school assert that the school is doing well and successfully meeting the needs of the students, there is scant evidence to support this perception. Data indicating a reduction in discipline referrals or a decrease in suspension rate was not included in the case study. The assessment data, displayed in a chart, indicate that the schools ELA scores were above the scores of similar schools for all but the most recent year of data collection. However, the assessment scores for five years of data are erratic, and from the first year to the fifth year, the schools average ELA score only increased a total of six points. Additionally, the schools scores in math were flat, showing little progress during the five years of data collection. While the schools first year achievement scores in mathematics were above those of similar schools, the most recent assessment results indicate the school was behind similar schools. The high academic achievement noteworthy in the first year of data collection deteriorated to below average performance in both mathematics and ELA by the fifth year of

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data collection. Yet, the perceptions voiced by participants in the study were that the school was high achieving. The interview protocol used by Jacobson et al. (2004) included audio taping all interviews. Most, but not the entire faculty in the first school who agreed to participate, expressed the opinion that the principal was a strong leader. She was described as tenacious (p.17) visible and vigilant (p.17). Other constituents refused to participate in the study stating they did not want the opinions they expressed during the interview to be tape-recorded. A small third group expressed the opinion that the principal was heavy-handed, insisting on her own solutions without garnering the shared commitment of the entire school. Although this principal set the direction for the school by advancing a compelling vision, two of the subsets of the domain related to data and communication were not addressed in the case study. Jacobson et al. (2004) again discuss aspects of direction setting in the second case study of a successful principal. Here, too, the principal initially focused on creating a safe and nurturing environment. However, because the school had been recently designated a School Under Registration Review (SURR), New York States label for schools furthest from the States accountability target, improving test scores quickly became the focus of the improvement effort. The principal in the second case study was a counselor before becoming an administrator, and her communication skills were evident in her own articulations and the comments made by the schools stakeholders. When she came here she had a plan. She had ideas. And she let us know that this is the way its going to be done and itll work. And it worked. It did work (p19). In essence, she arrived at the school with clear expectations of what teachers needed to do to help students succeed and of how students would behave in a learning environment. Jacobson et al. (2004) state: She realized that reculturing the school so that

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everyone viewed student achievement as its core mission was a change necessary to promote improvements in learning (19). This principals staff perceived her as a person who leads by example, listens to their concerns, and is willing to teach students in order to improve their achievement levels. As result, she was described as a leader who has engendered the respect of her staff. In the third case study, Jacobson et al. (2004) piece together the puzzle of what principal actions cause a school to become high achieving despite high poverty and a high number of children from ethnic and racial minorities. The case study begins with the story of how this principal who was brought to the school as part of a turn-around initiative sponsored through a school, district, and community partnership with a local bank. Prior to coming to the school, the principal received public accolades for her leadership in another school in another state. She came to the school with experience in successfully leading another urban, high poverty, elementary school. In the third case study, Jacobson et al. (2004) describe the principal as skillful in negotiating sensitive issues (p. 26). The satisfactory balance between and among the constituents of the school was a theme found in the third case study. Teachers felt supported by the principal, and parents felt that their concerns about their childrens teachers were acted upon. This principal was described as making an extraordinary effort to communicate with parents. Teachers were expected to write a class newsletter, which the principal edited. Parents were an integral part of the schools five action committees and the overseeing body of the school, the site-based management team. This principals staff describes her as unwavering in her advocation for the students. Evidence of the schools structures and protocols for data collection, communication, and working effectively with stakeholders were woven throughout

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the case study. The principal in this third case study exhibits all the aspects of the skills identified by Leithwood and Riehl (2003) necessary for direction setting. The principals of all three schools spent time developing the capacity of the school community to support the schools. This included parents, students and community members. Taking an active role in setting up the school as central to the community involves developing a shared vision for the future. The first step taken by all three principals was to assure a safe and orderly environment. After the environment for learning was established throughout the school, attention was paid to teaching and learning. After reviewing Leithwood and Riehls (2003) concept of setting directions and looking at direction setting from the vantage point of three urban school leaders, I turn to other sources that speak to the importance of direction setting. Direction setting and general education. Collins (2001) identifies disciplined thought (p. 127) as one of three functions of great leaders. In many ways, disciplined thought and direction setting are similar. They both entail having a clear vision, communication, perseverance, and ongoing data analysis. Waits, Campbell, Gau, Jacobs, Rex and Hess (2006) use Collins framework to discuss their findings in the beat-the-odds schools, high achieving schools with high percentages of Latino students. Waits et al. (2006) identify two underpinnings of successful direction setting. First, beat-the-odds schools emphasize the achievement of every single student and the faculty takes responsibility for each students learning. Second, these schools use multiple forms of assessment to track student progress. In other words, these schools go beyond mandated tests and AYP measures to assure that each child is learning every day.

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Direction setting includes the notion of principal influence, especially as it pertains to the strong personal belief that all children can successfully master difficult material. Lambert (1998) states that personal visions, when discussed in-depth with the schools constituents, can evolve into a shared vision for the education of all students. The building principal shapes the culture and norms of the school (Elmore, 2002). A school vision and mission that includes the notion that all students can achieve must be backed with implementation strategies that are tied to adequate resources and a continuum of options for intensive instruction (Barnett & MondaAmaya, 1998). The importance of principal leadership is firmly anchored in the bedrock of school improvement. Fullan (2001) reminds educators to assume that changing the culture of institutions is the real agenda, not implementing single innovations. Continuous incremental improvement is the goal of school reform and the work of all educators (Schmoker, 1996). Thus, it is important for principals to pay attention to the beliefs they hold and the actions they take, since those actions and beliefs are the foundation of their vision for learning. One of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (1996), Standards for School Leaders, established by the Council of Chief School Officers, is to promote the success of all students. This includes the achievement of students with disabilities. Principals beliefs and attitudes are reflected in their practices. If a school is not responsive to the diverse needs of all students, reculturation of the school becomes the work. By guiding the development, articulation, and implementation of a vision for learning, principals establish the expectation for the school. Direction setting and special education. The majority of studies regarding principals and special education have to do with various aspects of practices that educate students with

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disabilities in the least restrictive environment (Barnett & Monda-Amaya, 1998). Practices that educate students with disabilities in the LRE, sometimes referred to as inclusion, provide for the educational needs of students classified as disabled within the general education classroom in their home school. Villa, Thousand and Nevin (2004) offer the following definition of inclusion: The principle and practice of considering general education as the placement of first choice for all learners (p.20). By focusing on placing supports and services for students with disabilities in the general education classroom, students are better able to access the general education curriculum. In a study that exemplifies the domain of Direction Setting, Payzant and Durkin (2001) provide a first-hand narration of special education reform in the 128 Boston Public Schools. The Bostons Unified Student Services reform initiative was driven by the vision of serving all children well. The district focused on curriculum alignment, acceleration and accountability. The interdependent relationship between general and special education and the need for a continuum of services and supports for all students became the centerpiece of the Boston Public School Districts Unified Student Services Initiative. As a result of the initiative, five key learnings were identified: These learnings include: 1. special education reform can only occur within the context of general education reform; 2. special education is part of a continuum of supports for learners; 3. in order to ensure school safety as well as academic achievement, students must be connected to their school and to their learning; 4. assessment must be ongoing;

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5. a systemic approach to the provision of services is needed to address the wide range of needs of the students. Payzant and Durkin (2001) offer little discussion about the data collection and analysis that led to these conclusions. On the one hand, the testimonial written by the district superintendent and a team leader lacks the objectivity of an external writer. Moreover, the researchers have a vested interest in describing the initiative in positive terms. On the other hand, there is little doubt that this initiative is supported and endorsed by the superintendent of a large urban school district and that the Unified Student Services Initiative made sweeping changes in the structures and policies governing the district. The article was written soon after the Unified Student Services Initiative began, and the authors made no claims to results. Rather, they offer their experience with special education reform for others to consider, ponder and replicate. Principals attitudes are tied to what they value and consider important; attitudes influence a leaders course in direction setting. As a means of understanding special education, as it exists in schools, two additional studies examine principals attitudes towards inclusion. Barnett and Monda-Amaya (1998) set out to elicit information regarding principals definitions of inclusion and their attitude towards inclusive education. They selected 115 principals across the State of Illinois to survey for the purpose of understanding the principals knowledge of special education and their attitudes towards inclusion. Other questions centered on principals leadership approaches to inclusion, and the extent to which educational practices associated with successful inclusive education were perceived to be effective. In the data analysis section of the study, it becomes apparent that the researchers used descriptive statistical techniques to determine if correlations between leadership approaches influenced choices of descriptors

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defining inclusion and other factors. The research questions outlined at the beginning of this study were clearly defined, but the research design did not include a plan to correlate the data. I question why the researchers did not plan to use inferential statistics, but included correlation data in the conclusion. Another concern was that the narrative of the study was filled with unsupported claims about what principals should know and be able to do. These claims took away from the credibility of the study. Of the 3,879 schools (2,648 elementary, 574 junior high, 657 high schools) in the State of Illinois, Barnett and Monda-Amaya (1998) selected 115 principals for participation in the study. No explanation of the process used to randomly select the participants was included. Only 59 elementary school principals, 27 junior high school principals and 29 high school principals were selected to participate. The number of elementary principals and vice principals is disproportionately small to the total number of elementary schools across the state. In addition, the minimum group size is generally considered to be 30 participants (Frankel & Wallen, 2003). The small sample size limits the researchers ability to generalize the data for groups of principals in elementary, junior high and high schools, and raises concerns about the external validity of the findings of the study. The survey data may favor secondary-level administrators skills, knowledge and attitudes, and thus skew the results. Of the 115 mailed surveys, 65 were returned. Of those 65 returned surveys, principals completed 18 surveys and assistant principals completed the remaining 47 surveys. The response rate for this study is approximately 50%, and it falls within the average response rate of 20% to 80% for survey response rate for most studies (Frankel et al., 2003). Barnett and Monda-Amaya (1998) state that no attempt was made to balance the selection of the principals based on population of students (urban, suburban or rural),

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socioeconomic standing, or the degree of inclusive schooling. From my point of view, this imbalance is a limitation of the study. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the first three sections of the survey, which include the demographic information, leadership approaches and definitions of inclusion. Frequency distributions and percentages were calculated for each question in the survey. The elementary, junior high and high schools groups of principals responses to sections of the test were analyzed using ANOVAs for statistical difference. Of these groups, only the elementary principals/assistant principals were made up of more than 30 respondents. A sample of the survey was not included with the research report. However, the survey had 21 terms, 27 educational practices, 6 statements concerning practice and many demographic questions. The survey calls for self-reporting. People are not always truthful when they self-report. This causes more concern about validity of the data. The researchers state the findings from this study could have implications for the practice of including students with disabilities in schools, but Barnett and Monda-Amaya (1998) in their final analysis do not make claims. While data collection and analysis were discussed throughout the study, this study does not conform to widely accepted norms for research methodology and may lead some readers to an overall lack of confidence in this study. Barnett and Monda-Amayas (1998) work is contrasted with a later study of the attitudes of elementary school principals toward the inclusion of students with disabilities. Praisner (2003) surveyed 408 elementary school principals from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to determine their attitude toward and experience with inclusion, and training in special education. Unlike the Barnett and Monda-Amayas (1998) study, the sample in this study is sufficiently large for generalization. Surveys were sent to principals, and the participants were randomly selected. Like Barnett and Monda-Amaya (1998), the frequency

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distributions and percentages were computed for each variable of the survey. A Pearson Product Moment Correlation was computed between each variable and the attitudes of the principals to determine if there was a significant relationship. The findings of this study indicate that only 21% of the principals were clearly positive in their attitudes towards inclusion. The bulk of the principals, 76.6%, were uncertain of their attitudes towards inclusion. Significant positive correlations were found between attitudes towards inclusion and the number of special education credits taken and attitudes towards inclusion and the number hours of in-service on special education topics taken. Significant positive correlations were found between the principals own positive experiences with students with disabilities and placement of students in the least restrictive environments. The domain of Direction Setting contains the concept of holding high expectations for all students. Leadership practices that include the expectation of high standards for all students are essential to raising student performance (Cotton, 2000; Council of Chief School Officers, 1996; Edmonds, 1982; Gates, Ross, & Brewer, 2001; National Association of Elementary School Principals, 2001; Reeves, 2000, Senge, 1990). Domain of Personnel Development The second broad category of knowledge needed for successful leadership, according to Leithwood and Riehl (2003), concerns aspects of developing people. Leadership is a complex set of behaviors that include the dual functions of providing direction and exercising influence (Leithwood & Riehl, 2003). To be effective in motivating others to perform at increasingly high levels, the leader must have both the instructional expertise to improve teaching and learning, and the ability to appeal to the social/emotional capacities of the members of the organization. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) include specific subsets of leadership practices that

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positively influence the capacity of members of the organization to improve teaching and learning. Leithwood (1994) includes in-depth professional conversations and well-organized professional development programs as facets of successful leadership. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) state that in order to effect change, leaders offer intellectual stimulation by generating questions that cause staff to reexamine their assumptions, practices, beliefs and skills. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) report that successful leaders provide individualized support and model behaviors that staff can follow and support. This leadership approach transforms not only the individuals touched by the principal, but also enhances the capacity of the school to meet the needs of the students. Leithwood (2006) further clarified this category to include the notion of modeling values and practices (p. 191). Case studies noting personnel development. To illustrate further the broad concepts contained in the domain of personnel development, I turn to the study conducted by Jacobson et al. (2004). High expectations coupled with effective modeling and individual support for teachers was a feature of the practices of all three leaders. In all three schools, the principals provided resources for professional development, developed school-wide procedures and protocols for managing student behavior and encouraged teachers to develop a safe and nurturing environment for students. In all three case histories, the principals were willing to provide individual support when faculty members needed it, and modeled effective instructional and management practices. The leaders needed the staff to believe that their teaching and interventions could truly improve students learning outcomes and thus make an improvement in the lives of the children who attended their schools.

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The second case study, describes as the school as on its way back to meeting the needs of students (p 18). According to that case history, the staff indicates the principal is very clear in her expectations for lesson plans, instruction, and student behavior. Teachers work together to plan lessons, discuss the learning standards, and attend professional development. The principal in the third case study involved teachers in collaborative endeavors throughout the school day. Teachers take part in the five action teams and grade level teams. Furthermore, site-based management team meetings, professional development and curriculum-based activities take place regularly. The teaming activities develop the capacity of the individual and serve to provide the fertile soil where professional learning communities can grow. The behaviors adopted by all three leaders in the study conducted by Jacobson et al. (2004) were often designed to build the capacity of not only the staff, but also the entire school community. Parents, students, and community members were provided with information, support, and guidance on how to assist the school in meeting its goals. Through hard work and perseverance, changes for the better were made to the schools extended community. Leaders in all three schools cited by Jacobson et al. (2004) garnered their resources to provide professional development. The professional development activities included in-depth professional conversations as well as model professional development programs. The leader in the turn-around school made sure that the teachers participated in professional development. Specific professional development initiatives were not discussed in two of the three schools. However, the first school adopted Americas Choice as the model provider for their Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) project. Comprehensive School Reform grants are awarded on a competitive basis to schools that are able to demonstrate to the funding agency that they have the desire and the capacity to improve. These projects provide professional

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development, materials, and technical assistance to the school for the purpose of duplicating the best school reform practices advocated by the model. The Americas Choice reform model calls for at least 75% of the staff to commit to the change model. While the Americas Choice model was considered by many within and outside of the school to be effective, the selection of the model was an ongoing cause of disagreement among a faction of the schools faculty because the model did not have the required consensus, but the principal pushed it through without the required staff commitment. Jacobson et al. (2004) found that in two of the three schools, principals were able to encourage staff members to transfer to another school if they were unhappy with the reform agenda in the school. These same two principals were also allowed a very limited amount of discretion in hiring teachers who fit with the schools new focus. In the first school, there was a small group of teachers, with long-standing tenure, who were vocal in their dissatisfaction with the current principal. There appears to be a delicate balance between strong positional power to do what needs to be done, and the perception of a heavy-handed management style, which may result in some resentful, uncooperative staff members. Personnel development and general education. In his monograph on great leaders in the social sector, Collins (2005) identifies disciplined people as a feature of successful schools. In many ways, disciplined people and personnel development are similar. For many schools, their greatest asset is the people associated with it. Transforming a faculty into a disciplined workforce is a task for effective leaders. Using Collinss three functions of great leaders to discuss their findings in beat-the-odds schools with high percentages of Latino children, Waits et al. (2006) identify aspects of leadership that fall into this category. Specifically, they found that effective schools have principals who focus on student achievement while managing the

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school improvement process. Principals in these schools are neither too rigid nor too flexible and make the most of what they have. The beat-the-odds schools develop effective work teams. While the principal is deeply involved in school reform, Responsibility for school improvement is distributed among teachers and staff who are given real ownership and then buy in to identifying problems and actively solving them (Waits et al., 2006, p.7). The notion of developing a top-notch work team to find collaborative solutions embodies the concept of personnel development. Professional development activities and programs invest in the knowledge of teachers and are often seen as an element of developing people (Elmore, 2002; Zepeda, 2004; Zmuda, Kuklis, & Kline, 2004). In a study of racial disparities in fifteen high achieving suburban schools, Fergeson (2002) used survey research and noted a significant difference in the motivational factors that influenced black and Hispanic students to work really hard. Teacher encouragement rather than teacher demands was cited as motivation three times more often by black students and two times more often by Hispanic students than by white students. Ferguson (2002) recommends that professional development programs emphasize relationships, content, and pedagogy. Because of the disproportionately high number of black and Hispanic students represented in special education, Fergusons 2002 study and recommendations may also have implications for the field of special education. Based on their experience in developing service delivery models to meet the needs of all students, Capper et al. (2000) recommend that the administrators responsibilities shift to include participation as a member of collaborative problem-solving teams that invent solutions from the ground up. By becoming members of teams, staffs learn together how to turn the

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vision of a unified system into the reality of the merger of all services to wrap around all students based on needs (Capper et al., 2000, p.39). Personnel development and special education. As a result of legal mandates to provide education to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment and educational best practice, most students with disabilities spend much of their time in general education classrooms. The National Center for Education Statistics (2003-2004) indicates that more than 50% of all students with disabilities spend over 80% of their school day within general education classrooms. Thus, principals are concerned about the quality of preparation of not only their special educators but also their general education teachers. Schumm and Vaughn (1995) found that most general educators lacked skills, knowledge, and confidence in their ability to instruct students with disabilities. To understand the needs of staff that work with students with disabilities, a Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education (SpeSE) was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education in 2002. In the report, Carlson, Brauen, Klein, Schroll, and Willig, (2002) acknowledge that administrators have little control over the content of the preservice programs of their staff, but found that administrators have many tools available for enhancing the skills and overall quality of their teachers. Carlson et al. (2002) surveyed 358 administrators and 8,061 service providers including special and regular education teachers, speech-language pathologists, and special education teaching assistants. Depending on the participants job title, one of ten surveys was used to query participants. Geographic regions, job title/role, demographics and ten other categories were used to disaggregate the data. Carlson et al. (2002) did not use inferential statistics in this study; thus, over 30 tables were all displayed as percentages. Unfortunately, the total number of responders in tables was

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not listed. After analyzing the tables, I wondered if the data represent the opinion of 60 people or only two people. Not knowing the number of participants in each category results in concerns about the validity of the data and the wisdom of generalizing the findings. Another concern is that all survey results were based on only one measure: self-report on a survey. Multiple measures such as self-report and survey responses from other members of the school could contribute to the overall validity of the findings. The summary of the section written for administrators concludes that high quality, in-depth professional development was linked to workforce quality. Carlson et al. (2002) further state that school climate is tied to workload manageability and the career plans of the staff. These findings may have implications for administrators. Leadership standards and revised requirements for administrative licensure reflect the emphasis on accountability for the success of all students and include the notion that it is essential for principals to support students with disabilities, their teachers, families, and community (Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, 1996; National Association of Elementary School Principals, 2001). Lack of special education knowledge is seen as a limiting factor that may result in the lack of success for students with disabilities (DiPaola, & WaltherThomas, 2003). Knowledge about inclusion, the IEP, and the effective strategies for educating students with disabilities are necessary for student success (Hoy & Sweetland, 2001). It is difficult to build a school program that meets the needs of the students and the requirements of law without an understanding of the needs of all students, the laws, and the regulations in place to protect their students rights (Daughtery, 2001). Protz (2005) surveyed 82 administrators defined as principals, assistant principals, principal fellows, and principal interns to determine the amount of special education training received by building level

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administrators, their views on the relevance of special education law in their practice, and their self-perception of the their own adequacy in the area of special education law. In addition, a 26item instrument, designed to assess their knowledge of special education, was administered as part of the survey. Sixty-two percent (n=51) of the administrators who were sent the survey responded to it. This number was further disaggregated to show that 62.7% of the respondents were assistant principals and the remainders, 37.3% of the respondents, were principals. The data analysis indicates that 72.2% of the principals and 71.5% of the assistant principals who responded felt their education had sufficiently prepared them to meet the needs of students with disabilities, 51% of the same respondents strongly agreed that additional training in the area of special education law was needed. This need for additional training was reinforced in the assessment of knowledge segment of the survey. Based on the analysis of the 26-item assessment of principals knowledge of special education, the majority of the respondents indicated a low rate of knowledge in the areas of evaluation, reevaluation, graduation, related service, compliance and due process. Overall, principals and assistant principals mean scores of knowledge of special education law was 52.2% and 56.8% respectively. The gap between administrators confidence in their ability to lead special education programs and their knowledge of special education is interesting. However, several weaknesses are inherent in this study. The 51 respondents in this survey are from a single county in North Carolina. Their responses may reflect regional principal preparation programs and local dissemination of special education information. Rather, data collected from a more diverse sample would have brought more validity to the research. Additionally, while the sample size of the whole group is adequate, the size of the principal group (n=18) is small, and as a result,

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the findings for this subgroup is unreliable. Finally, the assessment instrument, designed to test the knowledge of the principal and assistant principal, is not validated by conventional research practices nor has it undergone the rigors of a peer review process. I was uncertain that the instrument tested what it purported to test, or even if the scoring guide was correct. Also, I had no idea how these perceptions correlated with student performance. However, the main conclusion of the study is that principals and assistant principals believe that they need a deeper knowledge of special education. More recently, Lasky and Karge (2006) examined the formal training of principals in school districts located in southern California. Of the 800 surveys that were mailed out, 205 principals responded. Lasky and Karge (2006) state: respondents [principals] reported limited ability and knowledge related to children with special needs (p.25). The authors conclude that principals need additional training in the area of special education in their both administrative preparation and while on the job. Harriott (2004) looked across the 50 states and identified important topics related to inclusion training. Those topics included collaboration, instructional adaptations and methods, behavior management, information on specific disability areas, and implementation barriers. On a similar note, Carlson et al. (2002) concluded that collaboration is worth the effort because the majority of students with disabilities spend a large part of their school day in general education settings. Further, Carlson et al. claim that teachers working in isolation reported using best practices less often than teachers who work as part of a team. Special education advocacy literature on leadership calls for collaboration between and among the staff who provide educational services to students with disabilities. Collaborative skills include setting measurable goals and creating norms for operating and setting agendas

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(Mednick, 2003; Wheelan, 2005). Collaboration among teachers takes many forms including the formal provision of consultant services as prescribed on a students IEP to informal arrangements where teachers meet on their own time and according to their own schedule. Collaboration includes the willingness to interact with others who share responsibility as they work toward a common goal (Hall & Hord, 2001; Friend & Cook, 2003; Walther-Thomas, Korinek, McLaughlin, & Williams, 2000; Wakeman, Browder, Flowers, & Ahlgrim-Delzell, 2006). Recently, the special education literature has linked collaboration to co-teaching, a service delivery system that pairs a general education teacher(s) with a special education teacher in the same general education class for the purpose of jointly delivering instruction to students with and without disabilities. Friend and Cook (2003) advocate for administrative support for the co-teaching option in the delivery of special education services, stating: If co-teaching is to be a legitimate service delivery option, it is necessary to ensure that teachers schedules are coordinated and that teachers with particularly challenging groups of students are paired with a co-teacher (p.190). Friend and Cook (2003) go on to state that in order to plan, implement, and assess instruction for students with disabilities, the special and general educator need to be able to work together. Friend and Cook (2003) are well known for their general writing and consultation to school and district practitioners. Mednick (2003) suggests that one of the roles of the principal is to provide support for effective functioning of teams by assuring that the team members have the required skills and knowledge to work together effectively. In addition to working together, adequate time for co-teachers to jointly plan and discuss instructional and assessment practices is important to instructors who are jointly responsible for the education of students (Friend & Cook, 2003). Co-teachers, consultant

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teachers and other support teachers need time together to plan instruction to meet the individual needs of students (Barnett & Monda-Amaya, 1998). However, it is more than just allowing time; the use of time must be productive. Again, the literature is silent as to the optimal amount of time that needs to be scheduled to plan and collaborate effectively. Domain of Organization Redesign Successful educational leaders develop their schools as effective organizations that support and sustain the performance of teachers as well the performance of students (Leithwood & Riehl, 2003, p.20). The Domain of Organization Redesign relates to working conditions, the organizational structures, as well as the development of learning communities. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) include several sets of practices with this domain. To address the goals of the organization and build commitment, successful leaders strengthen school cultures through practices aimed at the development of shared norms, values, beliefs and attitudes. In addition, leaders create and or modify organizational structures including task assignments, routine operating procedures, time and space allocations, and the deployment of resources. Leithwood (2006) also identifies building relationships with parents and the community as a component of this domain. In other words, the ability to work effectively with stakeholders is essential. This is accomplished by developing positive relationships within the school, the district, as well as the school community at-large. Case studies noting organization redesign. Initially, principals in all three schools of the schools studied by Jacobson et al. (2004) focused on improving climate and culture. Respect and high expectations were embedded into new processes and structures in all three schools. Reculturing the school becomes the real agenda in all three schools. Jacobson et al. (2004) describe a non-hierarchal administrative structure where the principal of the turn-around school

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distributes key leadership functions to five committees who send a representative to the sitebased decision-making team. Additionally, in that same school, the school-day schedule was reconfigured to accommodate the distributed leadership, grade level committee work, common planning time, and contractual agreements with the community sponsor. The second school adopted many of the same organizational features of the turn-around school. Organization redesign and general education. Collins (2005) argues that disciplined action is foundational to successful schools. This disciplined action is akin to Leithwood and Riehls (2003) redesign of the organization. Using Collins framework to discuss their findings on beat-the-odds schools, Waits, et al. (2006) found that successful schools commit to a program and stick with it. They caution, however, that this does not mean blindly following a program. Rather, class and student data should inform instruction. Another thing the beat-theodds schools do is follow a cycle of instruction, assessment and intervention followed by additional instruction, assessment and intervention. Over time, each student has his or her own individual education program. Citing a large-scale study of student achievement in Texas, Darling-Hammond and Falk (1997) conclude: The single most important measurable cause of increased student learning was teacher expertise (p.193). Moreover, principals can look to a recent, large-scale study conducted by Williams, Kirst, & Haertel (2005) in California for guidance in redesigning their schools. This study was designed to look more deeply at practices that were found in effective schools to determine which effective practices had the greatest impact on student achievement. Williams, et al. (2005) surveyed the principals of 257 elementary schools serving low-income students, and found four interdependent leadership practices associated with higher achievement as measured by AYP. The four practices include: 1. making student achievement the priority;

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2. implementing a coherent curriculum that is closely aligned to the standards; 3. analyzing multiple sources of student assessment data; 4. ensuring adequate resources for instructional materials. Interestingly, other practices such as encouraging parental participation and providing time for collaboration were not among the practices stressed by the higher achieving schools. By selecting schools that fell within the 25th to 35th percentile range of the states School Characteristics Index, the study was able to focus on schools that served a high percentage of students from a low socioeconomic background. Thus, the students poverty level was removed from the factors influencing the results. Almost half of the total number of schools in the 25th to 35th percentile band participated in the 28-page survey. Over 5,500 teachers participated by responding to 400 survey items. Williams, et al. (2005) are affiliated with four institutions known for their research capacities. Those institutions included EdSource, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkley, and American Institute for Research. EdSource was charged with overseeing the project, and the study followed well-accepted guidelines for survey research. The surveys were mailed out to all the principals in the 25th to 35th percentile band. The sample was sufficiently large to draw conclusions. The researchers noted that approximately the same number of principals responded from higher performing schools as from lower performing schools. In an effort to elicit multiple data sources, the principals survey responses were compared to teachers survey responses. At a later time, the superintendents of these schools were surveyed as well. The decision that contributed to the design of the study and the methodology used to analyze data and draw conclusions are fully discussed, and are readily

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available to other researchers. The findings from this study have importance for the design of the educational program for all students, including students with disabilities. By way of contrast, Capper et al. (2000), offer a more cohesive plan for organizational redesign. Based on their experience working in schools to develop a service delivery model that serves the needs of all students, Capper et al. (2000) recommend that the administrators responsibilities change to include: securing experienced staff and resources to meet the needs of all students (p. 39). After envisioning a unified service delivery model, additional staff and resources are required to assist the general education teacher in meeting the needs of all students. Additional resources include, but are not limited to, sufficient time for planning and collaboration between and among staff members and repurposing staff assignments. Organization redesign and special education. This third domain includes leadership practices that are effective for all students as well as practices targeted to provide support for specific groups of students. Organization redesign emerges as key to improving results for students with disabilities. Compliance with special education law and regulation does not preclude a principals ability to conceptualize new structures for delivering special education services. These structures may include changes in the way special education services are delivered in a classroom and the grouping of students and teachers. Additionally, these new structures may address large-scale school reform such as the development of a unified system of support that is designed to integrated special education and general education in order to meet the needs of all students. In a study of the leadership and the design of special education programs, Warger, Eavy and Associates (2001) found: The principals role is critical to success as schools strive to meet the challenges of implementing the new IDEA requirements.

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Through their leadership, principals can ensure that the school organization, climate, and staff development activities, as well as curriculum, instruction and assessment practices reflect research on effective schooling and sound practice (p.1). The individual education plan is the foundation of special education and represents the agreements between the district and the students parents on behalf of the student (Vallencorsa, deBettencourt, & Garriss, 1992). It worthy to note that ensuring the implementation of students IEPs is rarely mentioned in the context of actions that principals take to improve results for students with disabilities. Rather IEP implementation is most often discussed in terms of law and compliance with the law. IEP implementation, and support for regulation and law, is embedded into the role of principal (Warger, Eavy & Associates, 2001). Principals are charged with the implementation of individual educational plans for students with disabilities (Daughtery, 2001). Commitment to implement the IEP and to provide education to the maximum extent possible in the general education classroom is essential to Special Education (Shoho & Van Reusen, 2000). While scholarly literature addresses ethical leadership practices, I was unable to find instances that specifically speak to the issue of improving academic achievement through careful monitoring of the implementation of students individual education plans. Friend and Cook (2003) note that administrators can influence school and district policy on such things as the size of inclusive classes, the distribution of students with disabilities throughout the school, expectation for push-in rather than pull-out services, and the assignments of special education teachers including the number of students they serve. How special education programs are designed and implemented is the subject of other studies. Schnorr, Black and Davern (2000) studied 14 high schools that collaborated with the New York State Systems Change Project to plan and implement school restructuring to better meet the

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needs of all students. The focus of the projects was to develop new structures for including students with disabilities who had traditionally been excluded from general education. The results of the project were written to inform building principals, district administrators, and teachers about the common themes that were uncovered through their collective experiences. Those common themes were identified in the form of six lessons learned about high school restructuring. Schnorr et al. (2000) state the first lesson they learned was to make the restructuring official so that school policies and practices could be formally changed. Principals leadership and active participation sends clear messages that changes represent school wide development, rather than a special education agenda (p. 12). A second lesson was to make general education the one structure for serving all students and the place where special education services and supports are provided. A third lesson learned was to schedule students to maximize support and minimize the effects that might overburden general education classrooms. The authors argued that the naturally occurring proportion or ratio of students with disabilities to the number of students found to occur naturally in the general population was the best way to develop inclusive classrooms. For example, in a classroom of 24 students, the natural proportion would be six or fewer students with disabilities grouped with 18 or 19 general educations with average or higher than average capabilities.. The fourth lesson was to reculture the school to support collaboration among adults and to promote instructional practices that are effective for all learners. The fifth lesson was to support ongoing professional development and the sixth, and final lesson, was to revise assessment and grading policies. One major shortfall in Schnorr et al. (2000) is that evidence was not cited to support the notion that the lessons learned represent best practice. The schools volunteered to participate

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in a state-sponsored initiative in return for professional development and technical assistance. The fact that schools volunteered to participate in the professional development and technical assistance initiative may lead to the selection of a biased sample. Was this state-sponsored initiative planned as a study or did the authors decide to write about their experiences after professional development and technical assistance was provided? Further, there are concerns about the reliability of the conclusions. No explanation is given as to the process used to identify the six lessons learned. Were the lessons equally evident in all 14 schools? Were there presuppositions made by the research team such as natural proportion was the best way to group students? Finally, how was the data collected and analyzed? This article falls within the realm of advocacy literature even though the authors couch their viewpoints in the language of research. While interesting, this article fails to meet the standards of first-rate qualitative research. Scholars (Brown-Chidsey & Steege, 2005; Burrello, Lashley & Beatty, 2000; Capper, 1993; Friend & Cook 2003; Gallagher, 2006; Hall & Hord, 2001, Sailor, 2002; Wald, 1998; Yesseldyke & Algozzine, 2006) have suggested multiple ways to redesign an organization and thus improve outcomes for students with disabilities. For example, Bernhardt (1998) and Preuss, (2003) frequently suggest that one way is to examine achievement gaps, identify the root cause of the gap, develop strategies to bridge the gap, and assess the impact of the strategies. Poliakoff (2006) discusses efforts to close the achievement gap, defined as persistent gaps between the academic achievement of different groups of students (p.1). Poliakoff (2006) states that three elements of schooling are generally recognized as having a positive impact on student learning. These elements are curriculum, teacher quality, and learning environment. The first element, curriculum, includes the notion that effective

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instruction is differentiated to provide students what they need to achieve success. The second element, good teachers, translates to mean teachers who are duly certified and have the skills and dispositions to educate students. The third element, a safe, respectful learning environment, includes those environmental elements that allow students to feel secure and protected. While these elements that can be influenced by principals, other elements, such as poverty and lack of quality pre-school experiences also contribute to achievement gap. These other elements are beyond the principals ability to control. Poliakoff (2006) does not discuss the effect of poverty or lack of effective pre-school experiences, but rather stresses the importance of looking at the whole picture, which includes school elements and well as the community context. Research about the least restrictive environment is helpful for designing special education programs and service delivery models, but most of these studies provide little information about what principals do on a day-to-day basis to improve academic achievement for students with disabilities. Special education provides students with disabilities support, services and specialized instruction to meet their individual educational needs. Principals, in their role of instructional leader, may choose to examine their buildings resources in light of the requirements of law and regulations to modify instructional programs, policies and strategies for improving achievement for students with disabilities. Intervention programs can be developed to provide a continuum of services and placement for students with disabilities (Hoy & Sweetland, 2001). In addition, interventions on behalf of students may take the form of monitoring teachers to assure that effective instruction is taking place (Danielson, 1996). School-wide discipline programs that support the management of all students are often

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developed and supported by the building principal (Solomon, Schaps, Watson & Battistisch, 1992). A key responsibility of principals is to monitor the effectiveness of school practices and evaluate their impact on student learning (Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2004; Zmuda, Kuklis, & Kline, 2004). Administrators may need to clarify to teachers that co-teaching is a standard method of providing supplemental special educational services to students with disabilities, and that any teacher might be asked to co-teach. Friend and Cook (2003) advocate for principals To supervise and monitor situations in which one of the co-teaching participants might be reluctant (p. 190-191). In discussing ways to bridge the gaps within the school community, McLaughlin, Pullin and Artiles (2001) state: Among the strategies that schools must adopt are those that promote both instructional collaboration and consolidated school improvement planning (p. 60). In contrast to general education, no large-scale study has been conducted to determine which effective school practices had the most impact on student achievement for students with disabilities. Moreover, some of the research used to support the design and implementation of special education programs does not meet high standards of scientific inquiry. For instance, the Barnett & Monda-Almaya (1998) study, discussed elsewhere in this paper, has weaknesses, yet it is often quoted in other scholars work. Clearly, there is a need for further high-quality empirical studies that analyze the effects of principals practices on student achievement. The following chapter describes the methods I used in my case study of an exemplary principal to further understand the role of the principalship and special education leadership.

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Chapter III Case Study and Methodology This educational case study follows Merriams guidelines for case study. Merriam (1998) states: A case study design is employed to gain an in-depth understanding of a situation and meaning for those involved. The interest is in process rather than outcomes, in context rather than a specific variable, in discovery rather than insight (p.19). Merriam (1988) later states: The single most defining characteristic of case study research lies in delimiting the object of study, the case (p.27). Similarly, Yin (2003b) states: The case study, like other research strategies, is a way of investigating an empirical topic by following a set of prespecified procedures (p.15). Yin (2003a) states that case study methodology is appropriate when investigators need to: (a) define research topics broadly, not narrowly, (b) cover contextual or complex multivariate conditions and not just isolated variables, and (c) rely on multiple and not singular sources of evidence (p. xi). Case study methodology was appropriate to my questions because the study of a principals practices, knowledge and skills is broad. The context of the research, the principals leadership practices and their relationship to the achievement of students with disabilities within a school, was complex. Jacobson et al. (2004) state, Because of [the] large amount of contextually sensitive data which needed to be collected concerning individual perceptions, case study methodology was most appropriate (p. 8). I followed the lead of Jacobsen et al. (2004), and used case study methodology to understand the dynamics of a principals practice.

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Methodology for this Case Study This case study focused on the principals leadership as the unit of analysis. Despite large numbers of students with disabilities who were assigned to Empire School by the Administration of the Special Education department, the school continued to make AYP for all students including students with disabilities. In fact, during the 2004-05 school year, 33% of the students who took the New York State Elementary ELA assessment were classified as students with disabilities. Thus, I also examined the records of the State Education Department for indications of student success as measured by AYP. I am making an a priori (and largely circumstantial) argument that despite a high percentage of students with disabilities in the school, there is something in this principals leadership that influenced this outcome. Like many school districts, this districts Administrator of Special Education assigns some of its component schools with a disproportionately large number of students with disabilities when compared to other schools in the district. Also, some schools may be assigned a disproportionately large number of students with disabilities requiring intensive interventions and specialized instruction when compared to other schools in the district. I suggest that some of the beliefs, attitudes, actions, strategies and practices of this principal may have applications to other similarly targeted schools. Jacobson et al. (2004) provided a contextualized understanding of successful principals in challenging schools. Because I too wanted to examine a successful principal, I followed, for the most part, the research design developed and used by Jacobson et al. (2004) for their study of successful principals. As a point of departure from Jacobson et al. (2004), I focused on this principals practices, beliefs, and attitudes as they relate to the achievement of students with disabilities as measured by AYP.

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By way of review, the purpose of my study is to identify practices, beliefs, and attitudes, of the schools principal that are perceived to contribute to academic achievement for students with disabilities. The term principals practices includes not only the procedures and actions followed on a regular basis, but also the strategies adopted to enhance the management of the building and outcomes attributed to the school. Connected to this primary area of investigation are two tangent questions. What knowledge is perceived to be essential for principals to carry out leadership tasks related to special education? What skills are perceived to be necessary for principals to acquire in order to perform tasks related to special education leadership? These questions can best be answered by an in-depth understanding of the context of the school and the people within it. Selection and Recruitment Primary participant: principal. I began the process of selecting a principal for this study by developing a list of the principals who were recommended by other principals, administrators, and members of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy in the Graduate School of Education at the State University of Buffalo. The principals on my list were considered to have expertise in school leadership as well as in special education. After using the reputation method to select a successful principal, I verified this information using the New York State Report Cards to confirm gains in student achievement since the beginning of the principals tenure in their school. Here, I make a second a priori argument that if special education student outcomes improved during the principals tenure, the principals leadership played a positive part in student achievement gains. Additional criteria for the selection of the principal included the following:

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a. the principal must lead a school that has made AYP for the total school and for the subpopulations of students with disabilities for the last two years; b. the school must have 4th grade and/or 8th grade students; c. the school must have the same principal for the last three years; d. the school must be within 90 miles of the State University of New York at Buffalo, which includes the large-city school districts of Buffalo and Rochester; e. the schools students with disabilities should reflect a full range of abilities, and schools with entrance criteria such as an entrance exam or portfolio were not considered; f. the principal was willing to participate in the study. Data Sources and Collection To learn more about the practices of a principal in a school that is achieving AYP for all students, including students with disabilities and to confirm or deny the principals self-reports about her leadership practices, I used two qualitative research methods, interviews and focus group discussions, to gather data from multiple constituents of the school community. Before beginning the study, I asked the Superintendent of the Little Apple School District to give consent to conduct research at Empire Elementary School. Using similar interview questions for each participant and each focus group, I collected data from many subjects about the topic of leadership and special education at Empire Elementary School. I also gathered data from multiple sources including my own observations, review of school records, school and district artifacts, and published documents and articles written about the district. Over the years, this district has been the subject of a book, an article

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and at least one dissertation; I have incorporated information from these sources while at the same time preserving the anonymity of the district. Thus, like Jacobson et al. (2004), I used both primary and secondary data sources. My primary sources included transcripts of tape-recorded interviews of the principal and Administrator of Special Education, randomly selected teachers and support staff. Focus group discussions with teachers involved in co-teaching, parents, and students were also conducted, but only the parents and teachers were tape-recorded. The secondary sources were written representations of data. In the appendix, I include a list of questions used in both interviews and focus group discussions. My questions were intended to elicit information specific to the principals leadership of special education. They are based on the unpublished protocols and developed by Jacobson, S. L., Brooks, S., Giles, C., Johnson, L, and Ylimaki, R. in 2003 as part of the School Leadership in the Midst of Challenging Local Conditions and External Accountability Research Project. My menu of questions intended to begin the conversation with participants. Like the unpublished protocols used by Jacobson, et al. (2003), the follow-up questions were unscripted. In their advice to researchers, Bogdan and Biklen (2003) state: Describe what you did rather than using the imprecise and abstract term triangulation (p.108). Likewise, Bernhardt (1998) stresses the importance of gathering data from multiple constituents and multiple sources. In order to verify facts and gain a fuller understanding of the principals leadership as it related to special education, I interviewed the Administrator of Special Education, who was able to provide the district context for special education in the school. Next, I interviewed the principal. To gauge if others shared the principals perceptions about her beliefs and attitudes, strategies, and practices, skills and knowledge, I interviewed teachers and support staff, and

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conducted focus groups discussions with teachers involved with co-teaching, parents, and students. These additional sources verified much of the principals story from another point of view, thus providing validation of the principals self-report, and offering the perceptions of key members of the school community. Later in the section on data collection, I more fully describe the interview and focus group techniques and protocols I used with each group. Instructions. Jacobson et al. (2004) designed their research study to interview 20 percent of the teaching staff and 20 percent of the support staff. Like them, I interviewed 20% of the teachers and 20% of the support staff. Like their study, I held two focus groups discussions with students, and one with parents. In addition to those populations, my research design calls for interviewing a central office administrator and conducting an additional focus group made up of teachers involved with co-teaching. At one faculty meeting, I explained the purpose of the research study and explained to the staff that I would be asking randomly selected staff to participate in interviews and/or a focus group. Individual Interviews The first data collection format chosen for this study was the in-depth interview. According to Wragg (2002), interviews are the oldest and most common formats for qualitative research in the Social Sciences. Interview as a form of research is not without its hazards. Wragg (2002) discusses six potential pitfalls inherent in interviewing: interviewer bias, sample bias, hired interviewers, ethnic issues, straitjacket interview, and interviewer or respondents image. Some of the areas of caution such as hired interviewers are avoided in the structure of this study. Others, such as interviewer bias, and interviewer or respondents image are an unavoidable component of personal interactions and, while they cannot be dismissed as trivial, they need not overly influence this study.

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In the course of conducting research on this principals leadership, I interviewed a district administrator, general education and special education teachers, and support staff. I asked a series of structured questions which were followed by other clarifying, unscripted questions. This semi-structured interview offered a framework for the participants responses and a way to organize data in a coherent fashion, while at the same time providing the participants with the opportunity to express their experiences at length. The semi-structured interview used in this research study was developed in part from the review of the literature on effective special education leadership practices, and in part based on the Jacobson et al. (2004) interview protocol. By semi-structured, I mean that I asked all participants the listed questions, but to clarify my understanding of the responses, I asked follow-up questions, and I adapted the Jacobson et al. (2003) unpublished protocols and procedures so that I was able to focus on special education and at the same time build on their research on successful principals. Merriam (1998) states: Case study does not claim any particular methods for data collection or data analysis. Any methods of gathering data, from testing to interviewing, can be used in a case study, although certain techniques are used more often than others (p. 28). Like Jacobson et al. (2004), I tape-recorded all interviews. Participants selected fictitious names and the initial interview with the principal took approximately one hour and a half. In order to reduce the disruption to the school schedule, I limited teacher and support staff interviews to one hour in duration. Administrator of Special Education interview. In an effort to develop the context for special education in the building and in the district, I interviewed the Administrator of Special Education. The administrator was a bit wary of the study, so the interview questions were

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provided to the administrator before the interview. Consent was requested and the interview was recorded. Principal interviews. The school principal selected to participate in the study was interviewed twice. The aim of first interview was to ask her to tell a story of her experiences with special education at the school. Jacobson et al. (2004) developed principal interview questions and protocols in order to develop a narrative profile based on the development of the school over time, on the contextual aspects of the school, and on the challenges to leadership. Following the lead of Jacobson et al. (2004), I conducted a second interview. The purpose of the second interview was twofold. First, I wanted to better understand and clarify issues, incidents, and challenges (Jacobson et al., 2004, p. 1) uncovered during the study of the school. The second purpose allowed for reciprocity. From the outset of their study, Jacobson et al. (2004) designed their interview protocol so that the principal is offered an opportunity to comment on the findings. Like Jacobson et al. (2004), I, too, offered the principal in my study an opportunity to provide a context for my findings and to provide supplemental information. Teacher interviews. Following Jacobson et al. (2004), I included a 20 percent, stratified random sample of teachers to be interviewed individually or in a focus group. The selection of teachers included special education teachers as well as general education teachers who served students with disabilities in the general education setting. All teachers names (excluding the names of special education teachers who were involved in the co-teaching focus group) and all support staffs names were written on one-inch square slips of paper. The names were placed in a bag and the names were randomly drawn until all names had been selected. As each name was drawn, each teacher was assigned a numerical place on the teacher list, and each support

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staff was assigned a numerical place on the support staff list. Following the placement order on the list, I asked teachers and support staff if they were willing to participate in a research study. If teachers and support staff were unable or unwilling to participate, the next person on each of the lists was asked to participate. Based on this random selection process, teaching and support staff were interviewed. In order to ensure that all interested staff had an opportunity to participate, I was given permission to make an announcement at a faculty meeting. I asked any interested teachers and support staff to meet with me, and named a time and location at which to meet. Only those teachers who were specifically invited to interview participated. No additional teachers or support staff met with me. Support staff interviews. Following Jacobson et al. (2004), a 20 percent, stratified random sample of support staff was interviewed. All support staffs names were written on oneinch square slips of paper. The names were placed in a bag and the names were randomly drawn until all names had been selected. As each name was drawn, each support staff member was assigned a numerical place on the support staff list. Following the placement order on the list, I asked support staff if they were willing to participate in a research study. If support staff were unable or unwilling to participate, the next person on each of the list was asked to participate. Based on this random selection process, support staff was selected to be interviewed. To ensure that all interested staff had an opportunity to participate, an announcement was made at a faculty meeting giving all teachers and support staff a time and location to meet with me. Following the same protocols as for the principal, Administrator of Special Education, and teachers, support staff interviews were tape-recorded.

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Focus Groups This study includes a second qualitative research method, the focus group. The intent of parent, student and teacher focus groups is to explore areas of agreement and concern about issues related to special education. Combining individual interviews and the focus group discussion in one research project is a complementary use of both methods (Morgan, 1997). Describing the focus group as group interviews, Morgan (1997) makes the case that linking the data collected in individual interviews to the focus group discussion yields a better quality of understanding. In a focus group, interaction within the group is based on the researchers questions. Morgan (1997) expresses the opinion that information from focus group interviews and discussions have the potential to yield data that is richer than data collected in any single interview. I conducted focus group interviews with parents, a group of teachers who were involved in co-teaching, and two groups of students. Unlike Jacobson et al. (2004), I wanted students with disabilities to be included in each of the student focus groups. Again, in departure from the Jacobson et al. (2003) unpublished protocol; I conducted a focus group discussion with teachers. This focus group was comprised of special education teachers and general education teachers who serve five or more students with disabilities in their classes. I met with the principal to develop a focus group schedule. I asked her to provide me with a list of faculty with their roles identified. From this list, I randomly selected six teachers who are involved in co-teaching and who serve students with disabilities in their classrooms. These teachers were not included in the list of teachers to be individually interviewed. The parent and teacher focus groups were tape-recorded. In order to ensure confidentiality, I asked participants to select a pseudonym. My field notes are the only place

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where the real name is written. In order to assure confidentiality, students were not taperecorded. Issues related to confidentiality are discussed in more depth at the end of this chapter. Prior to any focus group activity, participants were asked to sign an informed consent agreement. This form explains to participants the parameters of the study, and informs them of their rights and entitlements as participants. I began each focus group session with a statement telling participants that they have the right to leave the interview at any time. Teacher focus group. In addition to interviewing individual teachers, I held a focus group for teachers of students with disabilities. This focus group consisted primarily of special education teachers and general education teachers involved in co-teaching situations. The purpose of this focus group was to determine if and what were areas of general agreement among teachers who work with students with disabilities. Morgan refers to the decision to control the group to match categories of participants as segmentation (p.35). I found that similarities in the teachers experiences stimulated conversation and allowed participants to build on each others thoughts and ideas. As the facilitator of a semi-structured focus group, my follow-up questions were as important as the initial probes. This focus group conversation was also tape-recorded. At the beginning of the session, I asked each teacher to identify him or herself on the tape using a pseudonym. I assured participants that I will keep their names confidential, and that school and district administrators would not have access to the tapes or transcripts. However, the information they shared with the group and me would be included in the study. I asked participants in the focus groups not to tell anyone what other participants in the group said. I asked that a ground rule of What is said in the group stays in the group be established. I added that researchers cannot guarantee that everyone will keep the discussion private.

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Parent focus group. The purpose of the parent interview was to provide another perspective on the principals leadership. Like all of the protocols established in Jacobson et al. (2004), parents were asked to tell the story of how the school has developed and how the principal supported the development. The principal brokered the parent interview. Ideally, I wanted to meet with the parent at a neutral location such as the library or a coffee house. In reality, the focus group took place at the school. This interview also was tape-recorded. Interview questions are found in the appendix. Student focus group. Like Jacobson et al. (2004), the students in my study were selected primarily based on opportunity. Again, following the unpublished interview protocol developed by Jacobson et al. (2003), I sought students opinions and views in focus groups. Unlike Jacobson et al. (2004), I am primarily interested in the perceptions of and about students with disabilities. It was likely, but not necessary, that one or more of the students in the focus groups was a student with a disability. However, it is important to note that no student was singled out as a student with a disability. In order to ensure confidentiality, student focus group discussions were not taperecorded. Like Jacobson et al. (2004), I used a multi-tier permission protocol. First, the superintendent was informed of the desire to include students. Second, the principal agreed to the protocol. Third, all parents of third, fourth and fifth grade students were sent a list of the student focus group questions, a letter explaining the research study, and a permission slip to be signed requesting permission to interview their child. Lastly, students were asked to give their own consent to be interviewed. The permission slips are kept in sealed envelope in a locked, secure place in the advisors office. With the exception of the signed permission slips, students

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were not individually identified in any way. All individual statements are attributed to a student in the focus group Not wanting to remove students from their classes, I asked that a group of students be brought together during their lunchtime. It would be inappropriate to ask a group of children to keep what they said in the focus group a secret. I told the students that I would take their opinions seriously and I would not discuss with their principal or anyone else what they said. Also, I promised not to use their names. I asked them to do the same. Finally, because students were specifically recruited to be part of my protocol, I explained that the purpose of the study is to learn more about how the principal improves the school for all students but especially for students with special needs. A short debriefing process took place before students returned to their class. Other Data Sources On seven separate occasions, I shadowed the principal as she went about her day. I wrote field notes of the actions she took, the practices I observed, and the beliefs and attitudes she expressed. Also of importance was my observation of the ways in which she related to students, especially students with disabilities. Examples of observations I made include my perceptions of the morning and afternoon procedures, my introduction as a researcher to students in the focus groups, and the principals interaction with parents, students and staff. In addition, I gathered relevant documents including the student handbook, calendars, co-teaching training documents, meeting agendas and various forms. The shadowing sessions and the document analysis served to further contextualize the interview information.

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Data Analysis While I have separated data collection from data analysis, that separation is artificial. Merriam (1998) argues that data collection, analysis and reporting are interactive in nature. I followed the advice of Bogdan and Bicklen (2003) on coding. They advise researchers to begin the data analysis process by arranging all transcripts in chronological order beginning with the first interview. I made sure that all interviews are correctly dated and each page of the interview is numbered. Next, I listened to the interviews to ensure that they were transcribed correctly. I read and reread all of my transcripts to become aware of categories of data. I recorded my thoughts in the margins. I then developed my codebook by finding approximately 50 categories of data in the transcriptions of the interviews and focus groups. Sometimes the same data fell into two or more codes. Other times, a new code was needed. I coded my field notes, observations, and artifacts. The source and location of the additional data was noted in the codebook. Once all work was coded, I began to outline my findings using codes to find themes and patterns. Themes emerged from the data, and I was able to develop a convincing picture of the schools leadership. The rich, multilayered data, tells a story that helps us to understand what steps an effective principal has taken to increase the academic achievement of students with disabilities. Reflexivity: Interviewer and Negotiated Space In most interviews and focus group discussions, the interviewer acts as a moderator and recorder of the discussions. However, Fontana and Frey (1996), in their history of the interview as a research form, state: Researchers are not invisible, neutral entities: rather, they are part of the interactions they seek to study and influence those interactions (p. 363). Interviewers can

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be active participants in the interactions. Morse and Richard (2002) advise researchers to consciously choose to negotiate and maintain the relationship and to discuss that relationship. Like the principal I interviewed, I am certified as an administrator and have the credentials to hold the position of principal. I have the same language register and am of a similar socioeconomic status as most principals. However, unlike the principal I interviewed, I have been trained by New York State Education Department as a professional development specialist. As a result, I have a deep knowledge of special education, special education law and requirements, and of instructional pedagogy related to special education. While it was easy for me to gauge the depth of the principals knowledge and experience in the area of special education, it would have been difficult for me to appear neutral if the principal or a teacher disclosed information that indicated that some of the students in the school are not receiving a free and appropriate public education as specified and described in their IEPs. I am a colleague of the principal in this study and know her professionally. In order to avoid the pitfall of researcher bias, I collected data from multiple sources and reflected on the questions I asked the participants and the conclusions I formed based on the data. My presentation of the findings reflects multiple perspectives and is based on multiple data sources. Trustworthiness I sought to clarify and verify the principals responses to my questions by finding out what others members of the school community perceive as the principals contribution to the success of students with disabilities. I used strategies to enhance my trustworthiness with those people I interviewed. Bodgan and Biklen (1998) discuss measures that researchers can take to safeguard the accuracy, consistency, and validity of their research findings during the data

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collection process. One of the main strategies I incorporated in this study was to gather perceptions about the principals practices from multiple sources. The principals self-report interview was the starting point for this study. As mentioned previously, I questioned administrators, teachers, parents, students, and support staff, examined school-related documents, and spent time observing the principal as she moved through her day. The purpose of gathering information from multiple sources is to ensure that my inferences and conclusions are accurate and that they are fully supported by data. My field notes served to provide a written record of my observations. During data analysis, I reexamined my inferences to make sure that I had sufficient evidence for each and every finding. While all actions, behaviors, and words are filtered through the eyes of the observer, I sought to gather a preponderance of evidence to support my claims. Merriam (1998) states: In this type of research [qualitative case study] it is important to understand the perspectives of those involved in the phenomenon of interest, to uncover the complexity of human behavior in a contextual framework, and to present a holistic interpretation of what is happening (p. 203). Confidentiality Unlike the Jacobson et al. (2004) study, the principal selected for my study was not selected from an urban school district. Few large, urban schools met the above criteria. The imperative to keep the identity of the school and participants confidential trumps the advantages of limiting my investigation to large, urban schools. Like Jacobson et al. (2004), I am interested in maintaining the confidentiality of all participants. My field notes and the signed consent to interview forms are the only places where the names of the participants are located. I removed all identifiers from transcripts after ensuring that the data was accurate. The tapes were erased and destroyed in accordance with

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standards established for dissertations and with policies and procedures adopted by the University of Buffalo for dissertations, and all field notes and data related documents and materials related to this research study will be destroyed at the first possible date. Participants were assured of their individual confidentiality, but they understood that their words and ideas would be part of the study. The dissertation advisor, however, was given a sealed envelope containing my field notes, the signed consent forms and a chart listing the participants real names. The dissertation advisor will keep this information in a locked and secure place in her office until they can be destroyed. Pseudonyms were used to protect the identity of the district, the school, and the principal. In the course of my narrations, I disguised distinguishing features of the district, the school, and all who participate in the study to ensure confidentiality. Articles and other published materials have been written about the district, and I incorporated some general information about the district for the purpose of developing the context of the districts initiatives. I refer to these sources as published but undisclosed sources. At the same time, I am careful to honor all copyrights, and to avoid the presentation of other researchers work as my own.

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Chapter IV Description and Background of the Case Study History and Demographics of the District The Little Apple School District is located in a suburb of a large urban school district. The district is solidly middle class and is made up of neighborhoods, which marked their heyday in the 1930s, to pockets of subsidized housing. When driving through the 17 square mile area that makes up the district, one notices a large number of small, well-kept Cape Cod and ranch style houses. Unusual in the region, the district serves a large incorporated village made up of two communities that have a combined population of approximately 80,000 people. At the peak of the baby boom, the district served 22,000 students in 28 schools. Currently, the district is made up of thirteen schools that serve approximately 8,800 students. Of the thirteen schools in the district, there are eight elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools. There has been little expansion in the number of residential properties built during the last 20 years. All the elementary schools in the district are configured to include Kindergarten through fifth grade, the middle schools include grades six to eight, and the high schools include grades nine to twelve. According to the Administrator of Special Education, approximately 1,800 students in the district are identified as disabled. Classes in many of the districts schools are added or subtracted, depending on student enrollment. For the last three years, the district was targeted for improvement by New York State Education Department for over classification of students. The Administrator of Special Education explained that over classification means that when compared to other school districts, too many students in the Big Apple School District were identified as requiring special

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education. The districts report cards indicate that in 2005-2006, the average identification rate of students requiring special education in Kindergarten to grade 12 was 14.96%. In 2004-2005 and 2003-2004, the average identification rate for the same group of students was 14.7%, and 14.0%, respectively. By way of contrast, New York State report cards indicate that in 20052006, the average identification rate of students requiring special education across New York State in Kindergarten to grade 12 was 12.3%, in 2004-2005 and 2003-2004 the average identification rate for the same group of students was 12.2% and 11.9%, respectively. When the districts identification rate is compared to the national average of 13.7% for all children, including pre-school children, it becomes apparent that this district classifies students as disabled at a higher rate than the rest of New York State and the nation. The Administrator of Special Education stated, The district is no longer targeted for over identification but we are continuing to work to reduce the percentage of students identified as disabled. According to published documents that describe the history of some district initiatives, the district was involved in a fourteen-year improvement effort aimed at developing excellence in all schools in the district. In fact, 12 of the 13 schools in the district were named State Schools of Excellence and seven schools, including Empire Elementary School, went on to become United State Department of Education identified National Schools of Excellence. One of the key features of the Push to Excellence initiative was the high degree of collaboration between and among teachers, administrators, parents, students and members of the community. Shared-decision processes were the foundation of the districts bid for excellence in all of its schools. Unfortunately, when the Superintendent who shepherded the initiative stepped down in 1994, the initiative faded away. Vestiges of the initiative remain, especially in some of the structures in place to ensure collaboration. For instance, long before

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co-teaching began, teachers collaborated and shared expertise, parents were expected to be part of all major decision-making processes, and students were not surprised to be asked for their opinions. History and Demographics Related to Special Education The Administrator of Special Education indicated that the number of students identified as disabled has increased greatly during the last ten years; yet, this district currently has far fewer special education classes than it did in the past. This Administrator stated: Every school in the district has resource room service, consultant teacher service, and a form of co-teaching available. According to the Administrator of Special Education, these are the services most often needed by students. The Administrator of Special Education went on to state that if a different type of placement is needed, such as a placement for a student with intensive behavioral needs, they are available through the local Board of Cooperative Education Services. In the focus group discussions, the special education teachers agreed that strong district leadership and advocacy on behalf of students with disabilities has shaped the Special Education Program. The special education teachers talked about the influence of a former Administrator of Special Education who directed the program for over 20 years. They also indicated that the current Special Education department continues to provide strong support for students with disabilities. According to the special education teachers, the Special Education department is the largest department in the district. The Administrator of Special Education stated that on December 1, 2006, a New York State established reporting date, there were 459 students enrolled in Empire school. Of that number, 81 were classified as students with disabilities. Thus, on December 1, 2006, according

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to the Administrator of Special Education, 17.7% of the total student body at Empire was classified as disabled. On the surface, this number does not appear to vary greatly from the districts norm until we further analyze that data. The Principal of Empire Elementary School stated that 30% of the students who participated in the 20062007 ELA assessment were identified as students with disabilities. This may mean a much larger percentage of students are classified in grades three to six than in Kindergarten to second grade or it could mean that the Special Education departments data or the principals data is incorrect. Enrollment Data To avoid any discrepancies between school and district data, I use data reported to the State by each school and published in the New York State report cards. I compare the number of continuously enrolled students with disabilities in each of the eight elementary schools in the district to the total number of continuously enrolled students in each of the eight elementary schools in the district who took the ELA and mathematics assessments during the 2003-2004, 2004-2005, and 2005-2006 school years. These data reflect only those students who were continuously enrolled from the beginning of school to the testing date. Thus, the reported number may not coincide with actual numbers of students who take the assessment and/or the actual number of students who attend the school. In the years 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, only fourth grade students took part in the ELA assessments. In the year 2005-2006, and 2006-2007 the testing program was expanded and third, fourth, and fifth grade students were all required to take ELA and mathematics assessments. The scores of students in all these grade levels were combined to calculate the schools AYP for ELA and mathematics. The number of continuously enrolled students tested is reported in the Overview of School Performance (NYSED, School Report Cards, 2005 and

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2006). At the time of this writing, data from the 2006-2007 school year has not yet been published. The information in the charts that follow lists the number of continuously enrolled students with disabilities, the total number of all students tested, and the percentage of students with disabilities assigned to each of the districts elementary schools.

Figure 1 Display of students with disabilities participating in ELA Assessments in district schools School ELA Empire PS #2 PS #3 PS #4 PS #5 PS #6 PS #7 PS #8 Number of SWDs 03-04 22 7 14 18 6 11 19 10 04-05 26 9 11 11 6 17 12 10 05-06* 58 24 26 35 34 58 27 20 Total Number of Students 03-04 92 57 94 81 96 63 78 43 04-05 78 60 80 75 77 63 53 62 05-06* 239 214 274 264 258 183 191 166 Percentage of SWDS 03-04 24% 12.3% 14.9% 22.2% 6.3% 17.5% 24.4% 23.3% 04-05 33.3% 15% 13.8% 14.7% 7.8% 27% 22.6% 16.1% 05-06* 24.3% 11.2% 9.5% 13.3% 13.2% 31.7% 14.1% 12%

*ELA assessment program expanded to include additional grade levels.

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Figure 2 Display of students with disabilities participating in Mathematics Assessments in district schools School Math Empire PS #2 PS #3 PS #4 PS #5 PS #6 PS #7 PS #8 Number of SWDs 03-04 23 8 14 17 7 13 19 10 04-05 26 9 11 11 7 17 12 10 05-06* 58 28 26 34 36 57 26 21 Total Number Students 03-04 93 69 113 95 104 61 78 43 04-05 78 69 91 87 83 63 56 63 05-06* 242 223 287 265 281 182 190 167 Percentage of SWDS 03-04 24.7% 11.6% 12.4% 17.9% 6.7% 21.3% 24.4% 23.3% 04-05 33% 13% 12.1% 12.6% 8.4% 27% 21.4% 15.9% 05-06 24% 12.6% 9.1% 12.8% 12.8% 31.3% 13.7% 12.6%

*Mathematics assessment program expanded to include additional grade levels. In reviewing the data in Figures 1 and 2, it can be seen that Empire School and two other schools in the district, Public School #6 and Public School #7, enroll much larger than average percentages of students with disabilities who take the NYS ELA and mathematics assessments. To further analyze the enrollment data, I averaged the percentage of students with disabilities who were enrolled in the New York State ELA and Mathematics assessments over three school years and found that Empire Elementary School averaged 27.3%, Public School #6 averaged 26%, and School #7 averaged of 20.1%. By way of contrast, School #5 averaged only 8.7%.

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At the time of this writing, detailed data analyses of the schools assessment results for students with disabilities for the 2006-2007 school year are not available. In 2003-2004, 20042005, and 2005-2006, New York State school report cards for Empire School in Little Apple School District indicated that in every category Empire School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress. The school did not need to use Safe Harbor Targets (a lower than standard target for closing the gap between the schools current performance index and the NCLB standard index), nor did the school have to rely on additional student with disability points to achieve AYP. This is not true for Schools #6 and #7. District-wide Special Education Services During the course of my interview with the Administrator of Special Education, I asked how students were assigned to schools. She indicated that the Committee on Special Education (IEP Team) determines if a student requires special education and then decides on the type of services that will be provided. She stated that the district makes every effort to provide special education and supplemental supports and services in the students home school. She went on to state: Placements are made after weighing many factors, but the best interest of the student is the guiding principle in placing a student at a school. Other factors include, but are not limited to, parental preference, and availability of appropriate placement and service options (Gallagher, 2006). First and foremost, I was told, students were assigned to schools that meet their unique needs, and as a policy, the district places students in their home school whenever possible. On March 13, 2000, the Board of Education of the Big Apple School District adopted a Least Restrictive Environment Policy. It begins with the legal definition of LRE and further states: Inclusion means that a student with disabilities receives portions of his or her education in a regular education classroom with his or her age and grade appropriate peers. The LRE Board Policy (2000) goes on to state that the district will make a diligent effort to educate

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students in a less restrictive environment before proposing a more restrictive one. The policy closes by stating: LRE is a determination made by the CSE based on the students individual need. For one student, the LRE is placement with his or her non-disabled peers in the regular education classroom with the provision of supplement aids and services. For another student, the LRE is placement in a day treatment center. This is based on the students IEP and determined annually (p.2). If a school makes many referrals to special educations, which subsequently result in identification and classification of a student as disabled, and if students are placed in their home school, it would make sense that the referring school would have a high identification rate. However, in this district this is not necessarily so. When additional classes are required, a school that has space is assigned the new student and new classes. Some of the newer schools in the district, built during the 1960s, were designed to hold clusters of small classrooms. Empire Elementary School and Schools #6 and #7 are these schools. According to the principal, staff, and parents of Empire Elementary School, students with disabilities are often assigned to only a few schools. Thus, like many other districts, this district unevenly assigns students with disabilities to schools within the district. The principal and special education teachers at Empire Elementary School indicate that the Empire Elementary School has always had many students with disabilities. The principal stated that only a small number of the students with disabilities in her building were identified as a result of buildingbased referrals to the Committee on Special Education (IEP Team). According to the principal, the majority of the students with disabilities at Empire Elementary School are from catchment areas that belong to other schools in the district. The Administrator of Special Education indicated that that the district did not track this type of referral data. The principal of Empire School stated that even students from the other

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schools with a high percentage of students with disabilities were assigned to Empire School because co-teaching was offered in third, fourth, and fifth grade and co-teaching was not offered in their home school. The parent of one of the students with disabilities confirmed that her child attends Empire school, which is not the students home school. The mother said that she was told that Empire Elementary School was the only school in the district that could accommodate her sons needs. The parent states she was offered a choice: an out of district placement or Empire Elementary School. She selected Empire Elementary School. According to the Administrator of Special Education, all placement options specified in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Part 200 Students with Disabilities are available in one or more schools in the district. In other words, across the district, a full continuum of special education placement options and services are available, but in the students home school, the needed placement might not be available. A parent of two children with disabilities stated, The district has always accommodated anything either one of my children needed. Ive never had any problem. The mother went on to say, However, I wish my son could go to a school closer to home. This parents comment lends additional credence to the principals contention that Empire Elementary School enrolls a disproportionately large number of students with disabilities when compared to other schools in the district. Continuum of special education. Figure 3, displayed on the following page, is a representation of the continuum of placements available in the district to struggling students. While the district does not offer every placement in every school, resource room service and a form of co-teaching is offered in all schools in the district. The continuum describes the least restrictive environment as it is found in district schools.

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The base of the triangle represents the regular class program that is available for the majority of students. Within the regular class program, students may receive additional services such as instruction in remedial reading, mathematics, or English as a second language, or academic intervention services. The next layer is regular class with related services and or consultant services. In this district, the related services may include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language services, or counseling. In addition, if there is need, these services are available to students with disabilities. All consultant teachers services support general education subjects. The next layers of special education service are the resource room program, followed by integrated co-teaching service. Co-teaching service is listed on students individual education plan as consultant service. In this district, three types of special classes are available in district schools. Occupying smaller and smaller layers are out of district day school

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programs, home and hospital instruction, and at the tip of the triangle residential programs with in-state or out-of state private school placements. In order to clarify the terms used by the participants of this study, I will refer to Part 200 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education in New York State, revised in October 2007. These definitions help to provide a uniform language in which to understand the services available to students with disabilities. It is, however, important to note that the definition of the term integrated co-teaching was recently defined in Part 200. In fact, it was added after I interviewed the Administrator of Special Education and conducted my research in Empire Elementary School. According to Part 200 regulation (2007), consultant teacher services can be a direct service provided to the student or an indirect service provided to the general education teacher on behalf of the student. Direct consultant teacher services are defined as: Specially designed individualized or group instruction provided by a special education teacher . . . to a student with a disability to aid such student to benefit from the students regular education classes (University of the State of New York, the State Education Department, Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, 2007, p.3). The consultant teacher services are designed to meet the specific needs of the student, and are listed on the students individual education plan and designates the general education class(s) such as mathematics, reading, and/or science for which the service is provided. In this district, related services such as pullout services such as speech, occupational therapy, and/or physical therapy fall next on the continuum of services. Resource room programs are also pullout services. Resource room services are designed to provide supplemental instruction to students in regular and special classes. Integrated co-teaching services are next on the continuum, and are followed by thee

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types of special classes - fifteen students to one teacher (15:1), twelve students to one teacher and one supplementary school personnel (12:1:1), and eight students to one teacher and one supplementary school personnel (8:1:1). While all special classes should be comprised of students with disabilities with similar needs, class size is dependent on management needs and degree of individualization required to meet each students educational goals. According to New York State education regulations, special class placement options include the following ratio of students to teacher and to supplementary school personnel (teachers aides or teacher assistants): fifteen students to one teacher (15:1), twelve students to one teacher and one supplementary school personnel (12:1:1), eight students to one teacher and one supplementary school personnel (8:1:1), six students to one teacher and one supplementary school personnel (6:1:1), and twelve students to one teacher and four supplementary school personnel (12:1:4). The final four services on the States continuum of placement options are home and hospital instruction followed by in state or out of state private schools (University of the State of New York, The State Education Department, Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, 2007) In this district, 15:1 class option, 12:1:1 class option, and 8:1:1 class option, are the only types of special classes available. When students needs cannot be meet in these placements, other options are available in out of district programs provided by private schools, special act schools or the local Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). Traditionally, students in this district who required specialized instruction were assigned to special classes that were located in a room separate from the general education classroom. Teachers and support staff in the Little Apple School District use the words self-contained and special

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class interchangeably to indicate a special education class located in a setting separate from the general education classroom. Co-teaching background and history. Little Apple School District, according to the Administrator of Special Education, defines co-teaching as two teachers in the same general education class both providing instruction to the student with disabilities in the class. In an effort to place students in the least restrictive environment, many school districts include their students with disabilities in general education classrooms by providing co-teaching as a special education service. Weiss and Lloyd (2002) note an increase in co-teaching in many school districts. The building principal indicated to me that a unique feature of this districts special education program is that there are low-level and high-level consultant teacher services. The low-level consultant teacher service is provided to students with mild disabilities who need minimal support in general education classes. The high-level consultant teacher service is provided to students with moderate to severe disabilities, who are placed in general education classes and need intensive support. Since interviewing the Administrator of Special Education and conducting research in Empire Elementary School, the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Part 206 (g), have defined integrated co-teaching services as, The provision of specially designed instruction and academic instruction provided to a group of students with disabilities and nondisabled students. (University of the State of New York, The State Education Department, Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, 2007, p. 98). Further, this regulation states that school personnel assigned to each integrated co-teaching class must contain a special education teacher and a general education teacher, and that

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supplementary school personnel (teacher aides and teacher assistants) may not serve as the special education teacher. Beginning July 1, 2008, there should be not more than 12 students with disabilities and 20 general education students in co-teaching classes. Prior to the October 2007 revision of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Part 200 did not address co-teaching, and school districts were free to define it in their own way. Some school districts defined co-teaching as a special class within the general education classroom; others defined it as a form of consultant teacher service. Depending on the needs of the students in the class, the Little Apple School District verbally differentiated its consultant teacher service into high-level and low-level consultant service. In general, if a special class was replaced with consultant teacher services, it was considered high-level consultant teacher service and co-teaching is identified on the students IEPs. The principal indicated that most students IEPs called for 140 minutes of consultant teacher service in ELA and Math. Most, but not all, of the consultant level service is provided by special education teachers; some co-teaching service is provided by teacher assistants. In this district, teacher assistants are certified special education teachers, but they are paid at a much lower rate of pay. Part 200 regulation clarified the differences between co-teaching and consultant teacher services, and this may affect the type of special education service provided to students with disabilities in Little Apple School District. What is noteworthy is that Empire Elementary School has been meeting AYP criteria, despite having large numbers of students with moderate to severe disabilities. These students have been receiving a less regimented form of co-teaching than what is now required.

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Districts Fiscal Data An interesting and unexpected demographic showed up when I reviewed the per pupil expenditures reported in the New York State Report Card Fiscal Accountability Supplement for of the district for the 2004-2005 school year. This report card indicates that the district spent $8,405 per general education pupil. The state uses a formula to identify similar districts, and for the same school year, similar districts spent $8,006 per pupil. The average general education per pupil expenditure for all districts across New York State was $8,875. The Little Apple School District per pupil expenditure for general education students is slightly more than the expenditure of similar districts but is less than the expenditure of the average New York State school district. By way of contrast, for the 2004-2005 report indicates that this district spent $13,867 per pupil for students with disabilities. For the same school year, similar districts spent $19,944 per pupil with a disability and the average per pupil with disability expenditure in all districts across the New York State was $19,320. Thus, the Little Apple School District per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities is $6,077 less than the expenditure of similar districts and $5,453 less than the expenditure of the average New York State school district. The Fiscal Accountability Supplement for 2003-2004 indicate this districts per pupil expenditure for general education students was slightly less than the per pupil expenditure for similar districts. It was $829 less than the per pupil expenditure in the average New York State district. In 2003-2004, per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities in this district was $6,467 less than the per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities in similar districts and $5,868 less than the per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities in all districts across the state. The Fiscal Accountability Supplement for 2002-2003 indicate this districts per pupil expenditure for general education students was slightly more than the per pupil expenditure for

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similar districts and $319 less than the per pupil expenditure in the average New York State district. In 2003-2004, per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities in this district was $5,280 less than the per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities in similar districts, and $6,056 less than the per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities in all districts across New York State. The pattern that emerges is that the districts per pupil expenditure for general education students is approximately the same as is the per pupil expenditure for similar schools, and approximately 6% less than the per pupil expenditure for general education students in all districts in New York State. Per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities in this district is approximately 32.3% less than the per pupil expenditure for similar schools and the per pupil expenditure for students with disabilities in this district is approximately 31.7% less than the per pupil expenditure when compared to all districts in New York State. A possible explanation for this lesser cost might be attributed to the large number of students who receive high-level consultant teacher services rather than the more costly special class service. The district uses teacher assistants, who are teachers certified in special education, to provide additional service to students with disabilities. Teacher assistants are far less costly than certified special education teachers. Thus, if two special education classes both containing a special education teacher and a teachers aide are eliminated and replaced with one special education teacher providing consultant teacher services and a teacher assistant, the district is able to save money. District Supports At the principals request, additional supports are available to students and their teachers such as tests by a psychologist and educational testers to develop a picture of the

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learning profile of the student. If a students behavior is a problem, the services of a behavior specialist can be called upon for the purpose of developing behavior intervention plans. If teachers require additional training, the principal can request that it be provided in the building or the teacher can be sent out of the district for professional learning experiences. Furthermore, if teachers require in-depth collaborative planning time, substitute teachers can be hired to cover the teachers classes and thus free up time for collaborative planning. Flexible staffing. A special education teacher stated that when a new student was added to her special class (12:1:1) during the middle of the school year, the district provided a teaching assistant to support the instruction. As mentioned previously, teaching assistants in this district are certified teachers and may, under certain circumstances, provide initial instruction. By way of contrast, a teacher aide may not provide initial instruction, but can provide support services such as re-teaching, behavior management, and guided practice. In order to keep co-teachers from feeling overburdened, the principal stated that the district tries to follow the natural proportions of students with disabilities to those without disabilities. This means that in a class of 25 students, approximately five students would be identified as students with disabilities and twenty would be general education students. In reality, the principal indicated that there were around eight students with disabilities in coteaching classes. The principal said that students with 504 accommodation plans and students needing extensive amounts of extra help are not placed in co-taught classes. Time for collaboration and preparation. Perhaps the most significant structure for increasing student achievement is the two periods a day reserved for preparation and collaboration. The first period of the school day is from 8:00 a.m. to 8:40 a. m. Teachers are expected to co-plan lessons and assessments, attend grade level and other meetings, contact

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parents, and arrange for additional services. A second 40-minute period is reserved for teachers individual preparation time. Professional development for co-teaching. The district is committed to high quality professional development. Included in district-sponsored training are courses in shared decision-making and collaborative problem solving. The district boasts an active, well-staffed teacher center featuring an extensive menu of courses. In order to introduce the co-teaching initiative, the Director of Special Education contracted with two professors with expertise in co-teaching and special education, the local Special Education Training Resource Center staff, and the Little Apple Teacher Center to train approximately 130 co-teachers in effective collaboration and co-teaching practices. Teachers and support staff were given binders filled with tools, articles, and strategies and were provided with a half day of training prior to the implementation of co-teaching model and at least three follow-up sessions. The follow-up sessions, called tuning workshops including model lessons, problem solving and facilitated discussions, took place over several years. Other courses aimed at improving co-teaching skills were available through the teacher center. In order to ensure that the building principals and central office administrators had the skills to support and monitor the co-teaching initiative, a separate strand of training was provided to principals and administrators prior to teacher training. One general education teacher stated that she and her co-teaching partner had been trained together and had a lot of support from the district. Another teacher related that she and her new co-teaching partner were able to attend a session of co-teaching professional development designed for teachers who are changing co-teaching partners or grade levels. The teacher described the course as a refresher, and stated that the district was a really nice school

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system in which to work because it continues to provide support to its teachers. While the district sponsors the formal co-teaching learning opportunities for teachers and administrators, the principal, as we will see in the next chapter, provides the day-to-day, ongoing staff development. History of the Schools Leadership Many teachers remembered and identified three different principals before the current principal. The current principal of Empire Elementary School stated: They liked the principal before me, but felt things were too loose and she did not come to night-time activities. One general education teacher said that that principal was gone in two years and she did not provide much direction. She also indicated that sometimes students with disabilities were not included in school events such as assemblies. The teacher indicated that that another former principal was gone in a year. According to the teacher, That principal provided too much direction. The principal said that one of the former principals had more than 80 grievances filed against her, and she further stated, So after those principals, I guess I looked pretty good. School-Based Special Education Services Because of its low poverty rate, Empire Elementary School is not entitled to receive Title 1 funds. The schools report card estimates that between one and ten percent of the school is eligible to receive free and reduced price lunches. While the principal does indeed have the knowledge, skills, practices and aptitudes to bring about outsized growth in student achievement, there is the possibility that poverty level has much to do with schools ability to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress. I will discuss this in more depth in Chapter 7. Continuum of Services at Empire Elementary School. According to the principal and confirmed by teachers, the history of Special Education at Empire Elementary School began

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with many students with disabilities placed in self-contained special classes or provided resource room services. As students made progress, they were mainstreamed into general education settings. However, there was a significant gap between the achievement levels of students with disabilities and students in general education classes. In 2003, the Empire Elementary School began a service delivery model that they called co-teaching. By the end of the next school year, more teachers had combined their special classes with general education classes. In September 2005, school staff attempted to maximize the educational benefit of special education by providing co-teaching to all students with disabilities in the school. School report card data from the 2003-2004 school year indicated that Empire Elementary School had 34 students with disabilities in ungraded special classes; the following year, the schools report card indicated that there were no students in ungraded classes at Empire Elementary School. When I asked the principal about this change, she indicated that for the 2005-2006 school year, all ungraded special classes were eliminated and students were placed in co-teaching classes. She went on to state that this worked well for most, but not all students. In the 2006-2007 school year, a special class was developed for students who required more structure and intensive interventions. This special class was limited to fifteen students to one teacher (15:1). According to the special education teacher, the students in this class required specialized instruction that cannot be adequately provided in the general education classroom. Because there was need in the school and across the district, a special education class that focused on reading and mathematics instruction was developed for Kindergarten and first grade students. This class was limited to twelve students to one teacher and one supplementary school personnel (12:1:1).

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At present, only two students at Empire Elementary School take part in a resource room program, which is a pullout service that provides specialized supplemental instruction. The rest of the students with disabilities in the school are served by consultant teacher service that is identified as co-teaching, or special classes. Data indicate that during the 2004-2005 Empire School had 34 students with moderate to severe disabilities who were moved to co-teaching classes for the 2005-2006 school year. The Administrator of Special Education attributed the success of the districts Special Education program to the parents being on board with the decisions made for their children and to the general education teachers who were supportive of students with disabilities. Other factors, such as building level leadership for the inclusion of 34 students in co-teaching classes and support for special education teachers may have also played a part in the success of the districts special education program.

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Chapter V Findings of Successful Leadership and Special Education The purpose of this study was to examine perceptions about an exemplary principals practices for the purpose of identifying those elements of practice that contribute to achievement as measured by attainment of AYP for students with disabilities. The term principals practices includes not only the procedures and actions followed on a regular basis, but also the strategies and structures adopted to enhance the management of the building and outcomes attributed to the school. In addition to interviewing the principal of the school, I sought verification of the accuracy of the principals self-reports as recommended by Merriam (1998). Through shadowing the principal on six occasions, review of school documents and state records, and interviews of representative groups of stakeholders, I have captured a broad view of one principals successful leadership of special education. The following overarching research questions guided the interview and focus group discussions of this qualitative study: Question 1: What leadership practices, beliefs and attitudes, of the schools principal are perceived to contribute to academic achievement for students with disabilities as measured by AYP? The term principals practices includes not only the procedures and actions followed on a regular basis, but also the strategies adopted to enhance the management of the building and outcomes attributed to the school. Question 2: What knowledge is perceived to be essential for principals to carry out leadership tasks related to special education in the school? Question 3: What skills are perceived to be necessary for principals to acquire in order to perform tasks related to special education leadership?

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The study was conducted over several months, but all staff interviews and focus group discussions were conducted within a three-week period of time. The figure below details the type of data collected and analyzed, and the sources from which they came. Figure 4 Data collected in support of claims Type of Data Source Interview Who or What or When Administrator of Special Education (1) Principal (2) Follow-up phone interview with the principal(1) Special Education Teachers (2) General Education Teachers (6) Support Staff (3) Focus Groups Teachers (6) Parents (2) Students (2 focus groups 6 students total) Observations Faculty Meetings (2) Introduction of visitor to faculty Presentation of data at grade level meetings Fifth Grade Assembly Welcome of Students in the Morning Morning Announcements Episode of Student Discipline Assignment of work to the custodian and secretary

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Interactions with staff End of day procedures Document Review School and District Website Co-Teaching Training Manual School and District Mission District and School (8 Elementary) NY State School Report Card Tool for monitoring progress of Students with Disabilities Published but not identified book, article and dissertation School handbook

I will refer to the principal as Laura Douglas. She has been principal of Empire Elementary School for six years. Laura is in the process of pursuing her doctorate in educational administration, but she also has a strong background in special education from her masters degree program and ongoing professional workshops. She is a white female in her late forties, and she is soft-spoken but clearly conveys her passion for improving learning and achievement for students with disabilities. A lot has happened during the six years that Laura has been principal at Empire. The school has adopted many district initiatives including the shift from primarily special education programs delivered in self-contained special classes to chiefly special education services delivered in co-taught classes. Empire Elementary School continues to have a disproportionately large number of students with disabilities when compared to other schools in the district, New York State, and the country. Yet, the school has achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in every category and subcategory. In interviews with the schools principal, special education teachers, general education teachers, teaching assistants, aides, members of the community, and central office staff, and in

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focus group discussions with special education teachers, students, and parents, and through examination of artifacts related to the school, school records, and observations, a number of areas have emerged as key to the perceptions about the principal. I will begin with an explanation of my findings related to my research questions about the leaders attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, and skills that contributed to improvements in student learning for all children, including students with disabilities. Later in this chapter, I discuss the practices, strategies and structures that are perceived to improve student achievement for students receiving special education. As we begin this chapter, it is important to repeat the section of education law governing the placement of students with disabilities. To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular environment only occurs when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be attained. IDEA section 612n (5) (B). Further, it should be noted that the National Center for Educational Statistics reported that in 2005, 52% of all students with disabilities spent 80% or more of their time in general education classes. By way of contrast, approximately 80% of the students with disabilities in this school spent 80% or more of their time in general education classes. What this means is that the structures and supports in the general education classrooms support not only general education students but also students requiring special education.

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Leaders Attitudes and Beliefs about Special Education The Importance of Safe, Orderly Learning Environments Throughout our interviews, Laura stated her beliefs in the importance of safe, orderly school environments with all activities focused on learning. Laura began our first interview by telling me of an incident that occurred during her first few weeks as principal of Empire Elementary School. When I first started, parents were a huge challenge. I heard stories about how the parents in this school contributed to unsafe dismissal practices. There is an alcove by the back entrance to the school that can hold about ten cars, but was it never designed to be a parking lot. Parents would drive up to the back door and wait for their children, then back out into the large parking lot. They couldnt see who was walking up to the building and they couldnt see the other cars. Also, as teachers were bringing students to the bus, parents would take their child out of the bus line and leave with the child. The teachers would turn around and a child would be gone. The teacher would not know where the child went. The principal said that the situation was very unsettling for the teachers and the children taken, and those left to see their teachers concern. Laura said she had yellow construction tape put up in the alcove so cars could not enter the dangerous area. Even before the school year started, she sent a letter home asking parents to wait outside the front door until their children were dismissed. The letter said, walkers would leave through the front door and all other children would go home on the bus. In the letter, the principal said she stressed her commitment to the safety of the children. Laura related that parents and community members used the building for their health walks, a practice encouraged by the former principal. According to Laura, they refused to signin at the office and walked all over the building carrying their coffee cups and talking loudly. Laura indicated that were not careful of small children when they were in the halls and they freely expressed to everyone in the community what they saw and heard at the school. The

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principal said, When they came to me and told me they felt it was their duty to check on the substitute teachers and make sure they were doing a good job, it was the last straw. I told them it was my job to supervise the substitute teachers. The principal said one parent called to make an appointment to speak with her, and brought a group of about 20 angry parents with her. Laura said, I felt they wanted to take-over and make all the decisions for the building. I firmly believe in the importance of creating a safe and orderly environment. Some students really need a calm and supportive learning environment in order to achieve. For example, many special education children are easily distracted when extra people are stopping in their classrooms or making unnecessary noise in the hallways. Laura said that the parents did not like the yellow tape, the new dismissal procedures and safeguards that were put into place. They were extremely angry, and very vocal. Laura related that they could not understand why the doors were locked during the school day, why they could not walk around the building, and why the school had surveillance cameras. Like the star principals described by Haberman and Dill (1999), Laura knew her job was to ensure the safety of the staff and students, and not to accede to the demands of the community when they are not in the best interest of the children. Still, doing the right thing is not always easy. Laura described the situation as a mob of parents screaming at me. Laura said, I remember saying to one woman, This meeting is over. We are going to end this conversation now. The parents went to the superintendent and he supported me. After about four months, Laura said things calmed down. The up-side to the conflict, according to the principal, is that the teachers thanked me and thanked me. Teacher interviews confirmed that there was a widespread perception that before the principal started, the parents had taken the upper hand. For a new principal to challenge a group of parents, on the grounds that they were contributing to an unsafe environment, was a bold

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stance to take on the part of a new principal in a district that prided itself in its shared decisionmaking processes and home-school cooperation. Reeves (2004a), states: Leadership is more than popularity (p.31). While acknowledging that popularity is a factor in both hiring and terminating principals, Reeves discusses the balance that a principal must attain in making decisions that may be unpopular with some stakeholders. On a day that I shadowed the principal, a special program for fifth grade students was held. Parents, grandparents, and siblings filled the auditorium. The program ended about half an hour before the end of the school day. The principal announced that students would be going back to their classrooms for classroom awards. Parents were asked to remain in their seats until all students had left the auditorium and then to wait outside of the building for their children. Parents could take their bus-riding students home when the school day ended, but they would need to ask the office to notify the students classroom that they would be waiting outside the front door. Although the principal clearly expressed the expectation that the parents would leave the building, some parents continued to wait in the main lobby. The principal quietly spoke with several of the groups and they quietly left the school or went to the office. The end of the day transition was smooth. Students knew exactly what they should do and there were no disruptive complaints from parents. Like the principals described in Jacobson et al. (2004), the first order of business for this principal was to take action to establish a safe and orderly environment, a place where all children and their teachers could focus on learning. Attitudes of Trust in the Staffs Judgment, Expertise, and Professionalism When Laura first began her principalship, she said she told the staff that she was going to spend the first year getting to know all of the teachers and seeing how the school operated. She said she believed teachers should be grouping students for reading and that children in the

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upper grades should be moving from room to room rather than spending the entire day with one teacher. She said, But, I waited a year before I introduced those changes. I wanted to see how things worked here. The principal related, We have had challenges with special education, and I have my say, but I also trust in the staffs judgment and expertise. Like Haberman and Dills (1999) star principals, Laura admitted shortcomings of the schools program and like the star principals took steps to improve the program. According to Laura, a child with intensive behavioral management requirements was placed at the school at a time when all special classes had been replaced with co-teaching classrooms. The special education teachers confirmed that all special classes were replaced with co-teaching for one year. According to a special education teacher, the placement of one student with intensive management needs pushed the limits of what the co-teachers could provide in the general education classroom. The teacher said that the Committee on Special Education eventually placed the student in a very restrictive setting a self-contained class in a school outside of the district. While co-teaching was generally welcomed, one teacher said she kept showing the principal examples of how co-teaching was not working for all the children in the school. According to the special education teacher, some of the children needed more specialized instruction in order to build background knowledge and more opportunities to practice the skills that they were taught. In this teachers opinion, the other children in the general education class did not need to sit through the additional practice that was needed by some of the students with disabilities in order to make connections and learn. The teacher related a turning point when the principal came into the co-teaching classroom to observe. As the principal spent time observing in classrooms, listening to

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teachers concerns, and providing constructive feedback, she gained teachers respect. The principal was willing to improve the special education delivery model, and these improvements many interviewees connected to increases in student achievement for students with disabilities. For example, after introducing the mathematics lesson, the general education teacher continued to provide guided practice for most of the class, while the special education teacher pulled-out a group of four boys to re-teach the lesson using little farm animals as a concrete representation of the word problem. According to the teacher, the principal could see the difficulty the special education teacher was having in meeting the individual needs of all the boys in the group, and the principal began working with one of the children. The teacher concluded, and she said the principal agreed, that in order to have the students academic and physical needs meet the students needed more practice with manipulative tools; to move around on the floor and act out the word problem, and they needed to exercise after every few problems. According to the teacher, the students needs for specialized instruction could best be met in a setting separate from the general education classroom. Another special education teacher said, Sometimes students with disabilities were distracted by all the things going on in the general education classroom, sometimes behaviors got worse when students moved to co-teaching, and sometimes we saw success stories. The special education teachers suggested that a combination of co-teaching and special classes be made available to more students in the school. The principal listened to the teachers and acted on their recommendations. The next year, self-contained classes for literacy and mathematics were developed for some students, and teachers felt this additional specialized instruction increased student learning.

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Repeatedly, during focus groups and individual interviews, teachers expressed confidence in their ability to find ways to meet the needs of the students assigned to them. This confidence comes from being empowered to do what is right for kids. It comes from trusting that other people in the system will provide the necessary additional support. A teacher aide said, I feel very comfortable with her. She encourages me to keep . . . learning and keep being in different situations. I trust her. A general education teacher said, She didnt just come in here and change everything. The changes have been gradual. She saw what was in place and saw what needed to be changed a little bit. She trusted us too. Trusted us that we would know what needed to get done. Conception of Power as Shared Power and Collaboration Lauras approach to leadership includes many instances where the authority for making decisions is shared by the faculty, parents, students, and central office. Laura paraphrased Alfie Kohen and said, People dont mind change; they just mind having it shoved down their throats. When I make decisions with others and discuss the choices, I am happier with the outcome. If I make an arbitrary decision, I pay a price for it later. If I discuss the choice with others, I am always able to say, Remember when we discussed such and such? It just works better. Sometimes, the decision is not of urgent importance to the principal, but is very important to the teachers. I need those decisions to be something they [the staff] can live with. One strategy this principal used, which is indicative of her beliefs and attitudes, was to ask teachers to work collaboratively to develop the classes of children who will be co-taught. The principal gave the instruction that she wanted the students with disabilities integrated as much as possible and asked all the teachers involved in special education including general education teachers , special educationtechers, reading teachers, academic intervention service math teachers, and special class teachers to approach the task of assigning children to

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classrooms. The special education teachers said they worked together to figure out what mix of children would best work in co-teaching classrooms and for which children, and a special class would be recommended. One general education teacher said, The principal has the final say, but we do have a great deal of input. The principal said she reserved the right to make changes to the class lists and has occasionally done so when presented with a compelling reason. Last year, there were changes in staff and the principal said that when she asked the teachers to develop groups of students who work well together, she told them she would assign a teacher later. In this way teachers developed classes that could work for any teacher. During the times that I observed the principal, she built relationships with teachers through dialogue and by expressing trust in their abilities; I saw no use of positional power. In the follow-up interview the principal said, I dont have any power at all if people dont want to work with me. That is important to me because I know I cant say, I want this done on this day and this is how I want it done. Ill just get compliance and not commitment, and Im looking for commitment. Lauras actions match her attitudes and beliefs. Based on interviews and observation, I suggest that Laura seeks to understand the people she works with and the students she guides. Hall and Hord (2001) discuss the patterns, themes and principles of change and conclude that implementation is the issue. Lauras approach echoes Hall and Hords (2001) insights when she said, I dont have any power at all if people dont want to work with me. Evidence of Lauras approach to leadership includes many instances where the faculty, parents, students, and central office share the authority of making decisions. An incident occurred when I was shadowing Laura. A central office staff member made a presentation about the districts new professional growth plan. The presenter introduced a form he had developed for reflecting on professional growth and urged all staff to use the form. Laura

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quickly spoke up and in a nice way said that the staff would study the form, discuss it and decide together if they would adopt it. In discussing Lauras approach to decision-making, one general education teacher said, She has given us freedom. . . . She didnt just come in and change everything. . . . She is very open-minded to discussions about things and how you feel. She is very supportive that way. Commitment to a Culture of Authentic Collaboration The principal stated, The special education teachers do so much around here. They put in so much extra time. They really lead the way in showing how to support kids. The principal went on to tell the story of one general education teacher who had a difficult class. The principal described the teacher as being frustrated with what was happening in his classroom. The special education teacher went over to the teachers class during her planning period, observed the children and was able to offer suggestions. The general education teacher did everything the special education teacher suggested and it worked out well. The general education teachers have worked with the special education teachers for such a long time, and I think the general education teachers would feel ashamed if they were irritated at having to provide a student notes. The culture around here is if kids need help, you give the kids help. A general education teacher who is part of a co-teaching team stated, It is challenging to work with students with disabilities. I have always had a differentiated range of abilities, but with the students with disabilities there is a wider range and there are always challenges when you work with another colleague. She went on to state, Collaboration is good, but there is lots of give and take, and sometimes you have to give up ownership of things. Another general education teacher who was a substitute teacher in the district before being hired as a teacher said, I think this school has always been a very collaborative building. Teachers talk to one

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another, work together, and really care about the kids. It is just a nice little community kind of feeling. A book published about the district confirms that there is a long history of shared decision-making and collaboration. In order to maintain the confidentiality of the participants, the books title is undisclosed. A general education teacher said, I think the strength of this building is its culture. The teachers work very collaboratively in this school. It [working together] seems to be carried on no matter who works in the school. Its all part of the culture and reality of the school. Another teacher said, Teachers work very freely together here and have gone so through many, many principals and program supervisors. Yet, another teachers perception of the school was the opposite. The teacher stated, This school was not at all collaborative when I first came here. It was the most unwelcoming place I ever worked. I did not have materials, and no one would help me get what I needed to teach the students. She went on to say that she felt the staff became collaborative when professional development was offered in their own school to the schools teachers during the summer. She said, Teachers began studying together, learning together, and developing a common language. The principal perceives that the teachers in the school are collaborative, and said, I wish I could say I had a lot do with developing the culture of collaboration that goes on here. They (the staff) are just people who know they need to work together, and they work together. A staff member said of the principals approach to Empire Elementary school Just by taking the time to get to know us, she really honored the knowledge that people had, and that was the support that was needed. While the teachers, principals and staff take pride in doing a good job in serving students with disabilities and students who experienced problems in other schools, they are

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concerned by what they perceive to be as the large numbers of difficult students that are sent to the school. Another widely held perception, one that cannot be proved or disproved, is that Empire Elementary School is assigned the most difficult children in the district. At the same time, the school has a positive reputation in the community because the principal and teachers convey a firm belief that all children can and will learn and they are getting results with a challenging population. Leaders Attitudes and Beliefs about Student Learning Moral Purpose and Belief that All Students Can and Will Learn This principals words reflect her purpose loud and clear when she states, I think it is the right of all students to be exposed to the general education curriculum. We owe it to them [students with disabilities] to teach them the general education curriculum and have them learn as much as possible. You just never know, sometimes they can take right off. Lauras attitudes and beliefs about student learning stem from a strong commitment to doing what is right for children. One general education teacher stated, She takes a lot of risks as the principal by really taking a stand and by advocating for the child. She is not very public about that but when situations come up, she is there. Another teacher aide described her as an advocate for children. A general education teacher related a story of a student who went from school to school and as a last resort; he was taken in by Laura and made part of Empire Elementary School. According to the teacher, the school was successful in having him tested. Testing found that academically, he was not that far behind other children, but socially and emotionally, he was very needy. The teacher related that Laura was in touch with the mother on a weekly basis,

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encouraging the mother to send her child to school and keeping her aware of what was going with her child while he was in school. Laura kept track of his standardized testing and unit tests and she kept the teachers aware of her actions. The teacher said that Laura involved the school counselor, the psychologist, and all his teachers. All parties would debrief before and after any interventions. The student was making progress but, eventually and sadly, the mom removed the child from the school. Educational Equity and Focus on Learning One of the parents I interviewed described the school in this way, Everybody comes in the same door and all the students intermingle in classes. It is like having classes with no walls. What this parent understood and verbally captured is the sense that all students are treated fairly. A student stated, The teachers here help all students and they treat everyone nice. We are all humans with special needs. Another student stated, Miss Douglas is very nice. She asks you Are you building your skills? She tells everyone to read. What these students understood is that you get the help you need to learn in this school. A Special Education teacher stated that she thought, The principals vision was that all Empire Elementary School students would receive special education services in co-teaching classrooms. A special education teacher said, Other elementary principals in the district move students to placements they think will better meet their needs. Our building finds ways to meet the needs of students who were placed here because they were not successful in their home school. A teacher aid said, The word is out, our school is a magnet for students with disabilities; a Special Education magnet school. A special education teacher confirmed a widely held perception; one voiced by almost everyone, We do have a lot of students from other buildings that attend school here.

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Several teachers related that the principal was willing to listen to their concerns, and together they were able to find ways to address both the teachers concerns and what the teachers perceive are the principals beliefs that children should be placed in the general education classroom to the greatest extent possible. A special education teacher said, The principal wants good [New York State Assessments] scores. However, if it comes down to caring about the child or caring about our scores, the principal cares about the child. I mean, we took a big hit last year, even though the students with disabilities made improvement. A special education teacher voiced the belief that The principal is not willing to move students out, if she knows a kid is thriving in this building. No matter what, that child can stay. Another special education teacher related that she believes the principal has kept students that could have been moved to other schools because she believes that the teachers at Empire Elementary School best meet the students needs. Ethics of Care Noddings (1992) says that ethics of care are moral attitudes characterized by the person who gives care providing the conditions in which the cared for person will flourish. In discussing the ethics of care, Noddings (1992) recommends that educators facilitate students in learning morality through questions and discussions and without the threat of coercion, This notion aligns with Lauras practices in that she helps students to understand themselves and strive to become better people. One of the students in the focus group described her principal in this way: she knows all of our names, and wants to know more about us. She sees us every day, when we walk to the buses. If we are sent to her office, she wants us to tell her what we did wrong. She may be a little mad if we do it again, but somehow shell understand.

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The principal said, I like the kids. I try to have a relationship with the kids so they know who I am and that they feel comfortable with me. According to the teacher, even her discipline of children is designed to teach children social skills and how to handle their emotions. A special education teacher said, Last year, she (the principal) just loved my most difficult student. She would discipline him without being frazzled or frustrated. Another special education teacher added, She finds humor in the children. Laura likes children no matter if they have a learning disability, if they are autistic, or if they are emotionally disturbed. The kids sense this and they trust her. A teacher aide stated that if Laura heard problem behaviors in the hallway, she would not hesitate to come out into the hall and do whatever was necessary to help take care of the situation. In order to underscore the manner in which Laura cares for the children, a special education teacher said, She gets to know the students and can tell when they are lying. A teacher aide stated that she has a way of getting the truth out of the children. During one of my shadowing sessions, two students were sent to Lauras office, so that she could find out who tore a page from one of the teachers books. While Laura was masterful in talking with the students, neither student admitted to tearing the page out of the book. Laura told one student that she wanted to believe him, but he lied to her before, so she was not sure. Then Laura listed the reasons why she was not sure. At all times, she clearly offered both children the opportunity to do the right thing. However, she was never coercive. In the course of her discussion with the students, it became apparent that telling the truth and trustworthiness were part of her values system. She made it crystal clear to the students that she expected them to tell the truth and not telling the truth would jeopardize their relationship with her in the future. Her caring extended

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to the teacher who was concerned that her book had been defaced and conviction that people should tell the truth even if they have made a mistake. According to one teacher, Laura is very calm when dealing with children who have been physically and verbally inappropriate. This teacher went on to say that her own first year of co-teaching was a difficult year, and the principals caring manner helped her through it. She [the principal] calmed me down, took the lead if the parents needed to be involved, and never made it difficult for me to ask for help. Building on the theme of ethics of care, another Special Education teacher said, I think this was the most important thing: I was a seventeen-year veteran teacher and I had a student who would sometimes just go out of control. She never made me feel like I was a loser teacher, who couldnt control her class. She was very supportive of me. No matter how she explained it to the parents, the special education supervisor, or Administrator of Special Education, she was supportive of the teacher. That unwavering support got me through the first year of co-teaching.

In addition to demonstrating Lauras ethics of care, this incident illustrates how Laura coached the teacher by providing hands-on assistance to help the teacher acquire the skills to deal with a student with intensive behavioral needs. A special education teacher said, Laura is very good at knowing that things happen. We all have children. Some of us have children who live outside of the district and the schedules are not always the same. She is very good about allowing us, if we have classroom coverage, to leave early and take our children to the doctors. She knows not everything happens after 3:30 p.m. During my first shadowing experience with the principal, a teacher came into the room and said her daughters school had called, and she had to take her daughter to the doctors office. The teacher related the plan she had made for classroom coverage. Laura

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expressed interest in the teachers daughter, wished the teacher good luck, and said that she would see her tomorrow. What she said was as important as what she did not say. She did not question the teacher about the adequacy of the plan for classroom coverage, nor did she open any doors to make it easy for the teacher to take the next day off. In fact, she expressed the expectation that the teacher would come to school the next day. While there is a warm atmosphere at the school, Laura makes it clear that she expects teachers to respect their commitment to their children at school. At one point during our final conversation, Laura stated, This year, we are focusing on the human factor, the human aspect of change. In looking for ways to improve outcomes for students and focus on improving instruction, Laura is wise to consider the human side of change. According to the principal and teachers, the district has introduced many other new programs. As part of the schools improvement plan, the teachers in the building have embraced new math and reading improvement strategies. Further change occurred when several key administrators, including the superintendent, left the district. Evans (1996) states: Many improvement schemes, rooted in the rational-structural paradigm of change, concentrate on the diagnosis of current illnesses and the prescription of ideal cures, cures that emphasize positions, procedures, and procedures rather than people (p. 9). As Laura guides the teachers and support staff through more changes, her response is to help staff understand what the change means to each person. Her approach embodies the human side of change. Great Expectations Laura holds high expectations for the students and teachers in her school, including particularly the students with disabilities in her care. Laura said, It is my belief that all children can learn the general curriculum, but some students with disabilities would learn it to a

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different extent. In speaking with parents, I assure them that every child in our school is exposed to the same curriculum. I assure them that we will work to bring their child to the maximum level of learning. When asked how she conveys her expectations to students, Laura said, To let students with disabilities know that I expect them to learn, I ask them, What is your job in school? When she is asked by a teacher to talk with a student, Laura stresses the importance in making good decisions. Laura conveys her expectations to teachers during monthly meetings with special education teachers. It is during those meetings that teachers and administrators share ideas, check on students progress in the regular education curriculum, and compare students actual achievement levels to their expected range of achievement level according to their IQ WISC III scores. Most of the time we are pleased. During a time I shadowed Laura, she visited a room where students were displaying their science projects. She carefully examined each childs projects, and made a comment about each one saying things such as I can see you looked this up on the Internet or Did you mom help you? or asking questions about their work. As she was leaving, she acknowledged the hard work of the students and teacher. The principal conveys her expectations for students academic growth by publishing and posting of student work in the halls and in school publications. To give another example of high expectations, I noted that banners and posters are displayed throughout the school. The banner in the main hall proclaims, Our School Great Staff, Great Students, Great Expectations. One student said that the principal, Mrs. Douglas, walks around the school and makes sure kids are okay. A fifth grader said, Every student is

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good at something and they get an award Another student in the focus group specified that he had won the Wizard at Math Award. Leaders Knowledge of Special Education and Student Achievement In looking at the literature, I found that there is widespread agreement among special education theorists that knowledge of special education is important to a successful special education program (Halvorsen & Neary, 2001, Sage & Burrrello, 1994). McLaughlin and Nolet (2004) summarize this position well when they state, Delegating responsibility for special education to special education teachers was never good leadership. But, until recently, it was possible for a principal to leave programmatic decisions to special educators. Today, no principal can abdicate responsibility for any group of students, including those who receive special education (p.1). Laura also stated that she thought her educational preparation and background in special education played a huge part in her principalship. My training in special education helps me to see things in a different way. Instead of just coming in and thinking we have to stop this behavior, I look at student behavior problems and try to find out what is underneath the surface behaviors. Praisner (2003) found a significant positive correlation between the principals own positive experiences with students with disabilities and placement of students in the least restrictive environments. Like the principals in Praisners study, Laura had positive experiences with students with disabilities before becoming a principal. Furthermore, Praisner (2003) found significant positive correlations between attitudes of principals towards inclusion and the number of special education credits taken. Laura had over 33 hours of formalized coursework related to special education. Moreover, Laura co-taught fifth grade. The school where she taught followed a co-teaching model very similar to the one adopted by the district. As a special education

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teacher, Laura said she had many positive experiences with Special Education and disclosed that she had other experiences that were not so positive but resulted in learning. Laura said, I know what it feels like to be a co-teacher and to wish you were not. I want to help the coteachers here avoid some of my mistakes, that why I stress communication and collaboration. Thats why we meet monthly. In turn, teachers respected Lauras knowledge and willingness to roll up her sleeves and teach children. They decided that they would follow her lead. Over and over, special education teachers indicated that their principal knew special education and knew the students with disabilities in the school. One general education teacher said, She is very familiar with them [students with disabilities] and it is helpful that she knows what challenges they face. Many of the teachers attribute her knowledge to being a former special education teacher. As another general education teacher put it, I think its her background in special education. She knows these children, their disabilities, and their families. A Special Education teacher stated that she thought, The principals vision was that all Empire Elementary School students with disabilities would receive special education services in co-teaching classrooms. Barnett and Monda-Amaya (1998) linked principals attitudes towards special education to their experience with special education. A special education teacher volunteered that she thought the former principals of the school were not as knowledgeable about special education and went on to say that the principals pretty much left the special education teachers alone. Another member of the focus group added, We had a principal who was not knowledgeable of special education, she . . . took our lead because we had been teaching so long. She was not getting teacher and parent complaints, so she figured everything was okay. A special education teacher, who taught

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students with moderate to severe disabilities in special classes, voiced the opinion that some of the former principals were afraid of the children. A general education teacher gave an account of a student who has lots of emotional issues. She said, We were working with him on better controlling his anger and disappointment. As a consequence for inappropriate behavior, he was not allowed to take part in playtime for ten minutes. He got all bent out of shape, was crying and yelling, I hate you. It so happened that his mother was waiting to pick him up. I told her that her son was having a meltdown and she needed to come into the classroom. Laura came into the classroom as the student was blaming me for all of his misbehavior and accusing me of treating him badly. Laura was so good with him. She talked calmly, got him to use words and to say that he was disappointed. Then she asked him if I used a sterner voice when I talked to him of if I yelled at him. She was just wonderful with him. I mean, I left school feeling good, the child was clamed down, and the parent was very supportive. She was very good at handling the situation, I thought, boy, this could have been a mess. Other teachers and support staff told similar stories. Lauras skills in behavior management helped the student, and the teacher and the parent reestablish a productive relationship. Lauras knowledge of special education includes knowledge of behavior management. One general education teacher said, She is very good at handling the plan for children who are very, very difficult: thats one of her fortes in my opinion. Another staff member stated, Not only does she know their names, she knows their disability classification, history, and background. Repeatedly, teachers voiced the view that the principal was a person who could calmly and firmly take care of any situation. When teachers send students down to the principals office they expect that the students will return ready to learn. In this school, it is the teachers perception that the principal is often able to help all students work out their problems. At the beginning of her principalship, Laura took steps to ensure that the school was a safe and

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civil environment for students and staff. She continued to set the direction of the school environment by helping teachers deal with disruptive behaviors. Laura connected her knowledge and beliefs about special education, particularly her expectation that students with disabilities would learn a great deal when exposed to the general education curriculum, to their academic achievement. She shared that in the past she had made mistakes and underestimated the abilities of some students. Students were able to achieve at levels much higher that she expected. Now she holds conversations with teachers and encourages them to keep trying to find ways to scaffold students learning. She says that sometimes she has had conversations with teachers who have come to her saying that a child does not belong in the classroom. Laura says she tells them they have the right to be in the room. She says, They should not be pulled out of the class to practice a sub-skill when the class is practicing the general concept. Rather they need exposure to the same instruction, the same skill, and the same big picture. Leaders Skills and Habits Building Relationships Fullan (2001) identifies relationships as the foundation of all effective change. In talking to Laura and the people associated with the school she leads, the importance of relationships, friendships and caring is evidenced by her language and the language of the schools staff when they speak about her. During the course of the study of Lauras principalship, I noted that Laura makes matters personal. She is apt to say, She is a friend of mine, I told them, when you know me better, youll like me, or We have a good relationship, and I was able to ask her to co-teach. Laura said that co-teaching was initiated at the school when she asked two fifth grade teachers to begin the practice. The two teachers said

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they were agreeable to co-teaching primarily because the principal asked them to so, and they thought it would be good for children. The staff, parents, and students that I spoke with all indicated they had good relationships with the principal. The special education teachers said that there is a good relationship between school and home. Yet, all is not perfect; the principal and a staff member indicated that teachers have requested transfers to other district schools. Reflection Like Haberman and Dills (1999) star principals, Lauras beliefs and actions are tightly coupled. Moreover, she is reflective about her relationships, her practices, and how she can best support the members of the school community. In our final interview, Laura mentioned she had been thinking about two students who received the lowest possible scores on the New York State mathematics assessments, despite having average IQs. She said that it was her special education background that made her think that something was not adding up. Because she was puzzled and concerned, she had one of the students tested. According to the principal, testing indicated that the student had deficits in his short-term working memory. Principal Laura related, Both students are very social. So it looks like they are just fooling around and not working. But the truth is there is some problem there that is stopping them from really doing what they should be able to do. Laura studies all of the students in the school, seeks to understand how they learn, and thinks about strategies to help them improve their learning. In the above case, educational testing was not used to refer a student to the Committee on Special Education, instead the principal requested it to identify the students specific weakness and develop strategies to build on his strengths. This principal not only wants to understand the student, but also spends time

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reflecting on the students learning. She marshals the resources she has at hand to gather further information about the student in order to help the student develop better skills. Laura says, I have formed the habit of being reflective. By nature, I tend to go through things in my head after they have occurred. I replay them and try to think of solutions or approaches. I also like to engage in collaborative reflection. I like to share my observations and thoughts with another person. They help me process and think more carefully. Sometimes I talk with my administrative intern or my secretary. It is a habit. Leadership Practices: Skills and Strategies for Student Success In this school, co-teaching is the structure the school has embraced to move beyond inclusion and help students achieve proficiency in literacy and numeracy. In this section, I discuss co-teaching and other structures, such as parent outreach, data analysis structures, and capacity building that support learning for students with disabilities and students at risk of identification. Many of the strategies and structures were created and adopted by the members of the school. However, since the principal of the school oversees the management of the school, and is ultimately responsible for student outcomes, for the purposes of this study, they are considered leadership practices. Parent Outreach In addition to holding open house events, scheduling parent-teacher conferences and planning Parent Teacher Association meetings, and having an open door policy for parents and staff, Laura has scheduled two days, one in fall and the other in the spring, for coffee and conversation with the principal. When discussing the coffee and conversation communication structure, Laura said, I hope to get some ideas from them. Also, I am putting together a letter

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that says if you cant make it on those days, come in and tell me about what you are thinking about how we can make our school better. In the final interview, the principal said, My greatest learning since I started this job was how to deal with angry parents. I always thought I would be pretty good at that. Now, I do kind of a routine and let them talk, say certain words that I know will keep the door open for them to get it all out, and listen carefully. The principal referred to the first meeting with parents and said it was not smart to terminate the conversation with one of the parents and asking that parent to leave. According to Laura, it just makes that person want to fire back some more. Laura said, So now, I have learned to listen and say, I understand how you feel. I never want to exit a confrontational meeting where somebody is still angry and they want to get revenge on me. Id rather listen and let them get it all out. At the end of that first encounter, I told parents, Youll like me when you get to know me, but this is not a very good start.

The principal reflected on her first angry encounter with parents and decided on a strategy to use with angry parents. The teachers in the special education focus group made a point of discussing the cooperative relationship between school and home. Yet problems with parents are not completely resolved, in the final interview the principal related, Sometimes parents are angry because they think we take too many kids from other buildings that have problems so that their kids are at risk of being with either unsafe kids or behaviorally disadvantaged kids. The principal said that over the past few years, parents have complained about several children who have been sent to the school from other schools in the district. According to the principal, concerns have run the gamut from a parent who was emphatic in stating, I dont want my child

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in class with that kid to the necessity of holding a meeting with parents to address parents incensed over a bad boy who was sent to school. Laura stated that recently a parent called the school and spoke to the secretary saying that although Empire Elementary School was her home school, she did not want to enroll her child because she heard the school was a dumping school. The principal stated, I have to do what I can when they are here. But, it makes my job hairy. The parents I interviewed made no mention of any conflict either when Laura began her principalship or any current issues. Laura has been principal of the school for six years, and only the parents of the oldest students or parents who had older children attend the school remember the difficulty Laura had at the beginning of her principalship. Laura says she listens to the parents and makes sure that they know that she has heard them and understands what they are saying. Like many administrators, she says she continues to struggle to maintain the balance between involving parents in their childs educational process so that the student meets his or her potential and protecting the rights of other students to attain an appropriate education. Regarding the large number of difficult students assigned to the school, Laura says, Its one of those things where you want to work on school improvement and you are working at putting out fires. Data Sharing and Assessment Analysis Many of the teachers noted that the principal shares the accountability data with the faculty on a regular basis. One teacher noted, We know exactly what we are getting into. We know what has happened in the past and where we are going to in the future. Both the principal and special education teacher talked about how individual student data was used to measure the progress but lamented that the district did not condone the use of other progress

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monitoring tools such as the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). In addition to discussing assessment data, Laura facilitated teachers in the adoption of several school-wide strategies to improve outcomes for students. These strategies focus not only on student achievement as measured by the New York State assessments but also on student growth. The strategies are discussed in more depth later in this chapter. One teacher stated that the principal is good at providing adequate time to practice and review for the State assessments. Another teacher said that the principal makes sure the children are comfortable and teachers have everything they need for the assessments. A staff member disclosed that the principal does everything she can to ensure that all students have the best test-taking environment. She said, Laura ensures that students with disabilities have their test taking accommodations all year long. One teacher summarized the statements of the staff when she said, She (Laura) is really good about balancing the test in its importance. It is stressful, but it is not do or die. Many teachers stated that they provide some testing practice, but mainly concentrate on teaching well, teaching the curriculum, and meeting students learning needs. DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003) also found that principals who focused on instructional issues had improved outcomes for their students with disabilities. Building the Capacity of the School to Meet Students Needs Principals strongly influence the strategic choices made by teachers to improve outcomes for students (Leithwood et al. 2004). In this section, I will discuss perceptions about Laura and the ways in which it is perceived that she has influenced the school. A general education teacher described Lauras mental picture of the school by saying, Her vision is to have a building that is a real group of professionals who work together and learn together and always keep focused on the students and improving their achievement. Another general

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education teacher said she thought the principal expects students to do as well as they can in the least restrictive environment. In discussing the changes that occurred in the school since Laura became principal, one special educator said, She kind of changed our program to meet the needs of the kids in the building. She has worked with us, always treating us as professionals, and knowing that we are going to meet the needs of those kids. We are doing what we need to do to help everybody. The principal related, When our old superintendent was here he challenged us to come up with a math action plan for our school improvement plan. The teachers at each grade level came up with some ideas about what they could do to improve mathematics achievement. The main thing that came out is that we made a decision to focus on making sure that our children, including our students with disabilities, know their basic math facts. The district has a subscription to an on-line service called Everyday Math Games that our children use to practice their math facts. We have been doing this for three years, and we use the program more than twice as much as the other schools in the district use the program. If you look at our hallways, we have posted the names of kids who have mastered their facts. We announce the names of Fact Masters every day. During my interviews with staff, several staff members remarked that the Fact Masters Math Program is effective for all students, and that they believe it has led to outsized gains in the New York State mathematics assessment. According to the staff member, students with disabilities, like the other students in the school, are being recognized for their math skills. Several teachers remarked that the principal helps them to be much more focused as they approach their professional learning. Other teachers said that they had professional dialogues at grade level meetings and during impromptu meetings with the principal. One

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general education teacher described how she and Laura had on-going conversations about increasing the knowledge level of students with disabilities by moving them through the general education curriculum. A general education teacher said, A few years ago we read about the 90/90/90 schools [schools that have 90% of the students meeting the standard, 90% of the students receive free and reduced price lunch, and 90% are minority], and we have implemented joint scoring of student work and working with power standards. Another teacher said she read Reeves (2000) Accountability in Action, a book about school improvement, was so impressed that she brought it to the principal and asked her to read Chapter 19, titled The 90/90/90 Schools A Case Study. The teacher said that she thought it would be meaningful to their school. The principal said, I made copies for everyone and we discussed it at faculty meetings. The staff all liked it so much that they wanted to implement the characteristics of high achieving schools. Reeves (2000) states those characteristics include: A focus on academic achievement, clear curriculum choices, frequent assessment of student progress and multiple opportunities for improvement, and an emphasis on writing, and external scoring (p. 188). Collaborative scoring of student work. The principal indicated that research supports students writing non-fiction. She went on to say, So, we write non-fiction every day. Another compelling strategy, according to the principal and several teachers, is the joint scoring of student work using rubrics. Collaborative scoring of student work is both an antecedent of excellence and a characteristic of high achieving schools. Reeves (2000), lists the educational efforts that are the antecedents of excellence as professional development, involvement by the parents, engagement of the students, excellence in assessment and instructional practices, and a climate of safety and educational achievement in the school (p.95). One teacher said they

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begin each year with a writing piece that is given to all students in the grade level, use a rubric to assess the work, and communicate with each other and parents about what we are seeing. A teacher said, We do collaborative scoring of student work twice a month. Another special education teacher stated, Our whole grade level started scoring student work together. When you see what other children can do, you pump up your expectations for your students, and they rise to the occasion. Teachers work on the common scoring during their morning planning period from 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. This year, teachers in the second and fourth grades invited the principal to watch the process they use for collaboratively scoring student work. The principal related, Its been pretty meaningful; of course not all grade levels have invited me. One special education teacher said, We wanted to invite her into our meetings because we wanted the extra feedback or advice. We know she has a lot of good information. We just wanted her to help us, and she is very open to those things. Teachers spoke of using Reeves (2004) work to identify the standards that are most essential for students to learn and prioritize New York State standards that are most often tested. Reeves (2004) defined power standards: [They] are the standards that are most important to academic success (p. 110). According to the teachers, this work is just beginning at Empire Elementary School but they said they liked the initiative. One staff member said, She (the principal) comes to grade level planning time whenever we ask her to come. We were working on the Power Standards and were not sure where we were going in the right direction. She was right there to guide us. This is another example of Lauras instructional leadership. Continuous learning. One general education teacher said, Laura is up on the research. Another teacher said, Laura is reading up on what really is working in schools. She has a nice

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way of sharing it too. She doesnt make you do something. She makes you want to try the things she suggests. A general education teacher said, She is always talking about the latest research that she has read and giving us excerpts to read ourselves, giving us strategies that may work. Another teacher said, She gives us articles, sometimes I dont read them until the summer, but I always read them. A new teacher said of the principal, I think the most important thing is to have someone who will answer questions even if they are silly ones. So, I think, that is what has helped me the most. Laura is perceived by many teachers as the educational leader in the school. Her knowledge of effective educational practices is perceived to be one of the components of the schools success by the people I interviewed. A special education teacher indicated that the staff is continuously learning, We take classes through our staff development center. In addition to district sponsored co-teaching inservice and classes through the staff development center, the principal indicated that teachers and support staff have been trained in a variety of intervention programs including reading intervention such as the Orton Gillingham Reading Program, Wilson Reading System and Linda Moot-Bell Reading Program. According to the principal, all teachers have been trained in response to intervention techniques, a formal process of measuring, collecting and analyzing intervention data to document evidence of a students progress or lack thereof. For the most part, Laura is willing to let teachers decide for themselves what strategies and approaches they will incorporate in their practice. One teacher said, If there are classes offered outside of the district, she lets us go. According to the principal, All of the special education teachers in the school are trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading. A special education teacher related, I went to the Orton-Gillingham reading training during the summer and she [the principal] was

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able to bring in the presenter to the school in the fall for the other special education teachers. The principals said, Even some of the Kindergarten teachers have been trained in the OrtonGillingham approach to reading and use those strategies for their large group instruction. DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003), in a meta-analysis of principal practices and special education, found that principals who provide high-quality professional development also had improved outcomes for students with disabilities. From teacher and support staff comments, a picture is painted of a principal who holds in-depth professional conversations with the teachers and instructional staff about teaching, learning, and matters relating to the management of the school. When additional skills are needed, the principal brings professional development into the building or sends teachers to conferences or workshops. Supervision. Supervision and professional development are the two main tools that a principal has to improve instruction (Glickman, Gordon & Ross-Gordon, 2001). Laura says she performs clinical observations of co-teaching. She observes one lesson while both teachers are teaching. Based on her observations, she develops two narratives to share with the teachers. In the narrative she comments on the type of co-teaching arrangement (such as one teach one assist, parallel teaching, or station teaching) selected for the lesson, and her observations of the interactions between the teachers and the students. She says as a result, the teachers communicate about how their expectation of co-teaching matches the reality. Laura says that in an effort to head off problems, her emphasis is on ensuring open communication between the two co-teachers. Her aim is to avoid problems between co-teachers and improve instruction that results in increased student learning. In this district, supervision is primarily provided to improve the quality of teaching. The post-observation conversation about the teaching is as important aspect of supervision.

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A general education teacher said, I think she monitors things in a general way, not a micro-managing way. She is aware of what is going on in the classroom, she is aware of what is going on with the students, if we need assistance or advice she helps. We have structures for giving feedback and I think she [the principal] has a good handle on that. A special education teacher said, She makes frequent visits to our class: Shell just pop in. The principal mentioned that she had windows cut in the doors because when she enters the room, it changes the dynamics, and that is not always for the better. She says sometimes that she lingers for a little bit outside of the door, to listen to what is going on. Laura said, If it seems like a time I can go in, Ill go in. There are times when they are in small groups and I can wander in and nobody notices me. The teachers in the focus group indicated that Laura knows what they are doing based on classroom visits, conversation during special education meetings, and meeting notes from grade level meetings that are e-mailed to the principal. Mixing up unproductive teams. Principal Laura related a story saying, When I came here there was one grade level where the teachers were not working well together. Additionally, at that grade level there were many issues with parents. After a year of working with the teachers to help them become a productive team, and becoming increasingly frustrated, I decided the best thing to do was to move team members to different grade levels. By chance, enrollment changed and I had the perfect opportunity to separate the team. In mixing-up the teams of teachers and assigning teachers to different grade levels, the principal used her positional power to improve teaching and learning. She indicated that the situation had been so contentious that student learning was affected. Interestingly, Reeves (2004b), in discussing the factors that contributed to outsized student achievement gained by students in the Norfolk Public Schools, identified reassigning teachers to different grades within the same school as a strategy to improving results.

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The principal and one teacher mentioned that the district has the option for a tenured teacher to work on a project and develop a portfolio in lieu of a formal evaluation. She was hoping that teachers would conduct action research or develop a portfolio based on their coteaching experiences. Teachers or support staff made no other comments about formal observations or end of the year evaluation. Maximizing resources to manage the instructional program. One special education teacher voiced the opinion that the principal gets the teachers the resources they need and allows them to be flexible with their schedule. The same teacher related that when she asked if she could help another teacher who was having difficulty with a student, the principal said, Yes, lets do what we can for the kids in our building. Yes, that is very important. The principal calls upon the services of the school psychologist, the districts behavior specialist, the special education service providers, the speech teacher and the special education teachers within the school to provide a flexible set of resources available to students within the building. Laura mentioned to me that she treats teacher assistants as if they were the teacher of the students. McLaughlin and Nolet (2004), advocate for schools to adopt a flexible set of resources and services to support students with disabilities access to the general education curriculum (p.19). Along a similar vein, Capper, Frattura, Keyes (2000) call upon administrators to shift personnel roles to meet student needs Collaborative learning and problem solving. Teachers like to study together. If they do the study through the districts teacher center, they get credit for it, but most of the time they do it on their own. The principal said, I tell them, let me know what book you are reading and I will buy it for you. Like any group, the principal said there are some teachers who could go through many books a year, other wanted nothing to do with it unless they were awarded credit

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that could be accrued for additional salary, while others get together to read and talk. They do it on their own time and they do it in the evening. The principal said she would like to find more ways to motivate teachers to incorporate peer coaching and action research into teachers practices and the culture of the school. One teacher related the story of a first grade student and how the principal provided verbal support to the teacher until the student was able to receive additional help. The teacher said that the principal was supportive of the decision to return to the Committee on Special Education for the purpose of reviewing the students individual education plan. The special education teachers said they were lucky to have flexibility in the building so that kids can really get the help they need. In other interviews, the general education teacher confirmed that they feel that the principal is supportive of them too. The principal arranges for co-teachers to get substitute teachers so they can plan together. Repeatedly teachers stated they appreciate her support. DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003) found that in schools where principals demonstrated support for special education, students with disabilities had enhanced outcomes. Leadership Practices: Structures for Managing the Instructional Program In this section, I expand my discussion of co-teaching to focus on the ways in which Laura uses this structure to manage and improve instruction for students with disabilities and students at-risk of identification. In this school, co-teaching is the structure the school has embraced to move beyond inclusion and help students achieve proficiency in literacy and numeracy. Many of the co-teaching strategies and structures were created and adopted by the members of the school. However, since the principal of the school oversees the management of the school, and is ultimately responsible for student outcomes, for the purposes of this study, they are considered leadership practices.

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Co-Teaching While co-teaching is a district initiative that began several years ago, it was embraced by this school. I suggest co-teaching is the major reform initiative of the school. All teachers, support staff and parent focus groups mentioned co-teaching in their discussions. No other initiative was mentioned so often. Teachers and support staff are knowledgeable of co-teaching. Several teachers noted that co-teaching classrooms are the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities. One general education teacher said, All of the teachers really embraced the idea of having special needs kids in general education classes. Teachers work very collaboratively and every principal that has come into the building has seen what we have built and they have given us the latitude to build from there. Even the students were aware of co-teaching. One student described co-teaching as the class with extra help where teachers treat you like a good friend. Another student voiced the concern that the teachers work with general education students so much that the students with special needs did not get enough attention. To that comment, another student said, I disagree. We are role models and it is the teacher aides who mostly work with us. The principal and the school staff participated in the district sponsored professional development and, as a result of the way they have implemented co-teaching, likely have much to offer on the topic of instructional change to the other schools in the district. The principal indicated that when she arrived at the school, there were many special education classes. Pullout resource room services was the primary special education service available in the school. A special education teacher confirmed that there were many special education classes, and while some students were integrated (mainstreamed) into general education classes, most of the students with disabilities spent most of their time isolated from general education in separate

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special classes. The placement of students with disabilities in co-taught classes for most of the day has been critical for providing access to the general education curriculum and for developing instructional strategies that reach children with disabilities. Specifically, wellplanned and well-executed co-teaching provides students with disabilities the best opportunity to learn the general education curriculum and to scaffold learning experiences that are infused with higher-order thinking and learning skills. A special education teacher said, I credit the principal with facilitating the co-teaching program in this school. While the teachers in the school voice commitment to co-teaching, one general education co-teacher said, We explain the co-teaching [program] ourselves to parents at our open house and talk to our parents about co-teaching, but parents still have some mixed feelings about co-teaching. Some of the parents want their regular education kid in co-teaching because they want to have two teachers; other parents feel that the learning does not move as quickly as it should, and they want their children in classes without students with disabilities. The principal is pretty open to the needs of the students and she knows which students will be good and the students who might be a problem. A general education teacher spoke about the co-teaching classroom saying, [It] is a great way to get struggling students the help they need when they need it. We are often able to provide extra services in the co-teaching classroom to students who are not identified. When we meet with the principal we are always asking, What can we do? Who can help? This principal never lets things sit on the back burner. The principal said, When one of the teachers in those (self-contained, special) classes was absent, the students behavior was bad and it was a terrible day for me. Sometimes even when the teachers were present we had problems at lunch. We tried everything and were so frustrated. So, one day, I tried to mix the special class students with the regular

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education class. They behaved much, much better. In fact, the behavior change was dramatic. After that, I suggested to teachers that they mix their classes together for lunch and pair up for other things. It seems to work most of the time. Some of the shy kids in the special class, though, had a hard time when they were mixed with the general education students. Soon there was so much mixing of the classes that they began to know more people and became comfortable. We found that with the kids mixed together we are not having the behavior problems we had before. The principal indicated that the teachers reacted very positively to the increased placement of students with disabilities in the general education environment. She went on to say, We still marvel at how easy it is now that we switched to co-teaching. A special education teacher in talking about the special education program said, You put 15 of the most learning disabled and emotionally disturbed kids in one room with one teacher and one aide that might or might not be good in one class made up of students at three different grade levels. And you wonder whose idea is this? Some years, the general education classes are made up of 15 students. One year the District applied for and received a waiver, so the special education class had more than 15 students in a small room. Another special education teacher stated, It was easy to slide into co-teaching. We had been working with the general education teachers when we had special classes if they were willing to work with us. A member of the co-teaching focus group discussion stated, You would not know by walking in the door that our school population has such a high percentage of students with disabilities. Everyone is treated the same. The focus group of special education teachers related that the parents of students with disabilities are supportive of the teachers and of co-teaching at the school. Another special education teacher added that the kids are happy in the situation they are in and this pleases the parents. A parent stated, The teachers fight for what they want for their students, and most of

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the time the teachers get what they need to help our children. The parent added, The special education teachers do a wonderful job. One teacher added, and all special education teachers quickly agreed, that not all students are appropriate for co-teaching. The second year of co-teaching, all students were included in co-teaching program, and several teachers felt some students were not appropriate for co-teaching. The special education teachers spoke in one voice when they said they were glad that the school did not limit special education services to co-teaching and that there was a continuum of placements and services for students with disabilities at the school. Affective benefits of co-teachings. One general education teacher said, I love the way that the kids socialize a lot more than when they were just self-contained. It is very rewarding to see some of those relationships and I do overall think academically that co-teaching has helped students with disabilities become more successful, and they have other role models. You know when they are in self-contained classes, they dont have a lot of role models and so I think it is really a benefit for them. A parent described the school in this way, Everybody comes in the same door and all the students intermingle in classes. It is like having classes with no walls. A general education teacher stated, I think the rewards are that you get to collaborate with another colleague who is an expert in the field of special education. Another general education teacher who is also a parent of students in the school stated, I think there had always been this feeling that all children should be included in this school no matter what. We had very traditional special education classrooms when my children first started to attend this school, even then, the children were mainstreamed. All the teachers really embraced the idea of having special needs kids in their classrooms. We have had a lot of children from other schools (in the district) come into our school because of the high quality program we offer.

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All students expressed that they liked their school and thought their principal knew them and helped them. Interestingly, even students with disabilities who were part of the focus groups did not realize that they had disabilities. Common planning time. The principal related that the recently ratified teachers contract allocated an additional five minutes of planning time during the school day. She said that she thinks common planning time is so important to co-teachers that she found an additional five minutes for a total of 40 minutes extra planning time for co-teachers. The principal says she has made sure that all teachers who work together have time to plan together during the 8:00 to 8:40 planning block. Friend and Cook (2003) suggest that teachers Advocate for allocating specific times in the school day for the collaborative interactions of professionals whether those interactions concern students with disabilities or other school matters (p. 307). One of the themes mentioned by almost all teachers is the importance of co-teachers having time to plan together. The importance of co-planning was mentioned by special education teachers during the focus group discussion, and then reiterated by general education teachers and many support staff. One special education teacher said, An important part of working with the general education teacher is planning, and the principal always accommodates our need to plan together. Several teachers mentioned that if they asked her, the principal would get substitute teachers for half the day so that teachers could plan together for extended periods of time. A general education teacher said, I think she really made a point of making sure we have mutual planning time and that we have meeting times so that there can be a high degree of collaboration. If you do not have that built in, it is next to

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impossible to do all of the planning you need to do to meet the needs of the kids. Friend and Cook (2003) conclude that one of the essential elements of co-teaching is having time dedicated to co-planning. Instructional Support Teams Beyond co-teaching, Laura developed effective instructional support teams (IST) for special education issues. The effectiveness of building level support teams is well established in the literature (Chalfant, & Van Dusen Pysh, 2000; Pugach & Johnson, 1989). The principal said, On Thursdays, I meet with the Instructional Support Team, which is the building support team. It is made up of general education and special education classroom teachers, reading and math specialists, the school psychologist, and the school social worker. Individual interviews and focus group discussions support the perception that the interventions used by this schools instructional support team were particularly effective in helping teachers to find ways to accommodate students instruction and/or classroom management needs. As a result, it is also the widely held perception that few students are referred to the Committee on Special Education for initial evaluation or for more restrictive environments placements. As the principal describes, We work to brainstorm different ideas so that teachers can try them in the classroom to avoid referrals to special education. In describing the schools consultative model for instructional support, a general education teacher said, We make sure we keep tabs on kids all the way through, so its not just that years teacher. Within the structure of the IST meetings, there are processes in place and tools used to enhance and monitor the effectiveness of the ISTs interventions. Recently, the school has adopted a Response to Intervention (Brown-Chidsey & Steege, 2005) strategy to monitor the effectiveness of interventions. One teacher showed me a chart she

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was using to monitor a students reading progress. The chart indicated the students letter/sound knowledge and other fundamental reading skills were at baseline over three administrations of the assessment. The student had made good progress in the program, and the teacher planned to bring the data back to the IST. Individual teacher interviews and focus group discussions caused me to conclude that there is a widely held perception that IST at this school is highly effective in helping teachers find ways to accommodate their instruction and/or classroom management practices in order to find solutions to student problems and decrease referrals to the Committee on Special Education. A special education teacher gave voice to the perception as to why the team is so effective when she stated, The principal is key to this teams success. The principal indicates that unlike other principals in the District, she takes a very active role in supporting the IST. In addition to leading these meetings, teachers reported to me that she often assumes responsibility for a portion of some of the plans that are developed by the team. For instance, in the case of a student who was chronically absent and tardy, a general education teacher told me that Laura called the family on a weekly basis. She stated, Laura really wants to make sure that the student is in a stable environment as much as possible. Phillips and McCullough (1990) argue that administrative support is essential to collaborative problem solving and state, Administrative support is critical to develop a collaborative ethic in a school (p.8). Proximity and Communication Structures for Instructional Management One of the greatest challenges to any organization is the how to keep everyone in the organization informed. The principal and many other interviewees talked at length about the importance of co-teacher proximity and communication structures to share information and any concerns about student progress. In order to encourage collaboration, some teachers

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classrooms were moved so that all teachers at the same grade level are located in the same corridor or general area. The principal of Empire School has a liaison at each grade level, a liaison for special education and liaison for the special areas. They e-mail her main bullet points of the main areas of discussion made during grade-level meetings and group meetings on anything that relates to the vision and mission of the school. The principal says the teachers are working on the antecedents of excellence and other common characteristics of highachieving schools. Laura indicated that the e-mails often have to do with the implementation of the common characteristics. Sometimes they will e-mail her questions and let her know if they need something. One special education co-teacher stated that open dialogue is important to the principal. The principal will call parents, sit down at a parent conference if there is an issue, and help get a team together to work on a behavior program with a student, but, the teacher interjected, She likes . . . open communication, especially with students who receive special education services. A special education teacher said that most of the time the teacher to principal communication is informal, I walk my students to the bus and give her a thumbsup signal or mention in the hall how a student is doing. The general education teacher said, She keeps track of how the students are doing. We have structures in place grade level meetings, meeting notes, and grade level liaisons for communication. The same teacher mentioned that teachers who teach at the same grade level are all in close proximity to one another. According to the teacher, they see each other in the hall and talk before and after school. She says that there is much informal communication and the fact that teachers are in close proximity to one another helps facilitate informal communication. Another teacher said that the students individual education plan is a form of

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communication between the district, the school and the family. As recommended by Bateman and Bateman (2001), the principal reads and understands each students IEP. Principals meetings with special education teachers. During the focus group discussion, the special education teachers said the principal meets monthly with them. One special education teacher said, She sets up the meetings so that we can talk about our concerns. Another special education teacher said, We present her with the scores of tests, state assessment scores as well as content area and unit tests. She will analyze the data with us and puts it into graphs so we can see it better. Another special education teacher said, I think she has helped to make our co-teaching so successful here. She allowed us to pick our own coteaching partners; I think that has been a big asset for us, whereas in other buildings there have been some forced marriages. Another teacher agreed that everyone is happy with his or her co-teaching partner. A special education teacher stated, We know if there is a problem, we have somebody we can go to. If she cant answer our question, then she directs us to a person who can. A general education teacher said that her co-teaching partner brings the students with disabilities reading scores to the monthly special education meetings. She went on to say, My co-teacher pulls together all the things we have been working on to show how the students have been progressing. She definitely monitors. This year, I know some of them [special education teachers] were overwhelmed by how much information they had to bring and what she was asking them to do and look at . Laura indicated that when she realized how much time teachers were spending keeping track of the number of students in each group and the type of co-teaching approach, such as parallel teaching or station teaching used during each lesson, she stopped asking for such detailed information.

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Leadership Practices and Special Education Achievement In this section, I elucidate how this principals leadership practices contribute to special education achievement. As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, the majority of students in this school spend most of their time in general education classes. Thus, the best practices used to advance general education students also move the students with disabilities forward (DiPaola; 2004). Additionally, as I introduced myself and described this study to the director of special education, the principal, special education and general education teachers, support staff, parents, and students, I said that the purpose of this research was to examine the principals practices, and the academic achievement of students with disabilities. In a broad sense, everything that has been described in this chapter contributes to special education achievement. DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003), in their analysis of the literature on the role of the principal in special education, argue, Schools must provide students with disabilities with appropriate access to the general education curriculum and effective instructional support. Student progress must be monitored closely and demonstrated through participation in assessment efforts (p.5). Laura monitors teachers by reading the meeting notes of grade level meetings, attending some grade level meetings, meeting with special education teachers monthly, visiting classes formally and informally, and ensuring that all students are exposed to the general education curriculum. During the special education meetings, she reviews students with disabilities reading and mathematics classroom assessments and other data such as running records and discusses student progress with special education teachers. Based on discussions and interviews, members of the staff the principal, teachers and support staff are actively pursuing improvement. Through staff meetings, grade level meetings and school improvement meetings, the principal has structured multiple opportunities

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to discuss important issues. The principal meets regularly with special education staff to review data and to monitor the progress of students with disabilities. Moreover, at those meetings she provides administrative support to teachers so that the teachers can develop and implement strategies to improve student performance. A special education teacher stated, The purpose of the special education teachers meeting is to share student achievement data with her [Laura], discuss the kinds of lessons provided, and to discuss the co-teaching arrangements used. Teachers perception of the principals influence on achievement. In a discussion of how the principal influenced student achievement, one general education teacher said, She introduced us to the 90/90/90 schools, focused us so that we pay attention to the curriculum and to helping students make good behavioral choices. Many teachers specifically mentioned the positive effect of nonfiction writing, the Math Facts Mastery awards program adopted by the school and the reading interventions such as Orton-Gillingham on student achievement. Other teachers said that her help with behavior management kept students functioning and prevented students from engaging in disruptive behaviors or emotional outbursts. In discussing students with disabilities, many teachers and support staff mentioned Lauras support for co-teaching as being instrumental in improving academic achievement for students with disabilities. One general teacher said, Laura has really supported co-teaching. She has given us substitute teachers so we have days to plan. She is always available to help if I have a problem with a student. Other teachers voiced similar views and those perspectives are included in the co-teaching section of this chapter. While some co-teachers perceive that having time to plan lessons, interventions, and assessments contributed to increased student learning, other teachers voiced appreciation that the principal was able to schedule additional time for staff to collaborate.

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In discussing the principals practices that result in student achievement,, a special education co-teacher said, We have a lot of conversation during our grade level meetings and we have direction and focus. Other teachers have indicated that Lauras willingness to listen and trust their judgment ultimately results in student achievement. In discussing the principals practices and student achievement, a general education teacher involved in co-teaching talked about an incident that occurred as class assignments for the following year were being developed. She said she saw the schedule and was concerned about the number of children who were going to be brought into her class for Science and Social Studies from the special class. She spoke with the principal about her concerns. According to the teacher, Laura said, No, it does not have to be that way. They [they students with disabilities in the co-taught classroom] dont have to be in a one classroom room. They just need to be in a general education classroom with support. The students were divided between two classes. The teacher said, It would have been really hard. She went on to say that the students had the support they needed and added, There is tons and tons of support. When you step back and think about it. Its like wow; we really do have that support. A general education teacher said that the principal has helped teachers to differentiate instruction and this is how they make the learning accessible to students with disabilities. She definitely has helped. They [students with disabilities] have to be doing, achieving. This general education teachers perceptions are somewhat different from another general education teachers view. I do think, overall, co-teaching has helped some of these students academically. It has helped them become more successful. They have other role models who are not receiving special education. I think that is really a benefit too for them. This teacher

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ascribes the main benefit of co-teaching not on student achievement, but rather on the advantages of improved social interaction. Data collected from interviews and focus group discussions, observations, and review of artifacts suggests that these things, which contribute, to student achievement occur, in large part, because of the leadership of the schools principal. For example, when I read what was on the walls of the halls near the main office I noted they were covered with exemplary student work, the names of students who had achieved academic gains and charts that document academic progress.

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Chapter VI Discussion In this chapter, I will first summarize the general findings and discuss how the data collected during the course of this research study links to broader theories of effective leadership as it influences special education. In particular, I will tie my findings to the extant literature on general education leadership, especially Leithwood and Riehls (2005; 2003) core leadership practices, and special education leadership and as it relates to student achievement. I will also discuss a surprise learning uncovered through the study that goes beyond the extant literature. Summary of General Findings Based on focus group interviews, individual interviews, observations, and document and artifact analysis, it appears that co-teaching is perceived to be the major reform initiative for the school. In other words, co-teaching is the major component of organizational reform. High academic achievement for all students is the umbrella under which the initiative falls. In chapter two, I stated that few studies show a direct connection between principals practices and the indirect effect of increased student learning. DiPaola and Walther-Thomas (2003), in a review of four research studies on the principalship and student achievement, concluded that principals who focused on instructional issues, demonstrated support for special education and provided high-quality professional development achieved increased outcomes for students with disabilities. In a broad sense, all actions, strategies, and practices that were adopted by the principal in this study focused on instructional issues. Like Haberman and Dills (1999) star principals, effective principals who achieved outsized gains and guided their schools to academic achievement, Laura held the belief and took the attitude that she was

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accountable and responsible for the total school. According to accounts of teachers and staff, once the students entered Empire Elementary School, they became part of the school. The principal of Empire Elementary School, Laura Douglas, is certified as a special education teacher as well as a certified school administrator, worked as a special education teacher and has taken over 36 hours of coursework in special education. With extensive educational preparation and experience, she is perceived by members of the school with whom I spoke as knowledgeable about special education, capable of leading special education reform, and competent in managing the school. Prior to becoming a principal, Laura worked for several years as the Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction in the district where she is now a principal. Thus, her experience and expertise extend beyond special education to include a thorough knowledge of the district, district initiatives, and of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Overall, participants indicated she is well prepared to be a principal. My findings led me to conclude that the staff perceived that the principal was capable, knowledgeable, interested, and committed to the school and to improving outcomes for all students. I posit that the principals skills and knowledge gave teachers the confidence to co-teach and do it successfully. In discussing Lauras leadership on behalf of students with disabilities with the staff, parents and students, I found that some practices stand out because of the number of times they are mentioned by the constituents of the school. Also notable is the observation that her leadership practices are multifaceted and use many dimensions of leadership. Further, Laura exhibits personal characteristics such as the ethics of care and a deep understanding of the importance of relationships that make it easy for the constituents of the school to trust her and follow her lead.

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To illustrate this point, I will elaborate on her leadership of the schools instructional support team. The IST is charged with finding strategies and interventions to improve social behaviors and academic outcomes. When a teacher makes a referral to the IST, the team swings into action and provides support and assistance to the teacher. In this school, the IST is composed of a group of standing committee members including the school psychologist, the program supervisor, the supervisor of curriculum and instruction, and the principal. A case manager is assigned to each referral, and teachers of the student, support staff, and the parent of the child are invited to come together to provide guidance and assistance to the referring teacher. The teams support is available to general education teachers to help them avoid making a referral to special education and to special education teachers to avoid moving a child to a more restrictive environment. The principal of this school does not facilitate this team; she leads it. When a teacher makes a referral to the IST, the principal takes the referral seriously and calls upon the resources of the entire school to support the team, the teacher and the student. Prior to the meeting, the principal spends time reflecting on the students problem, may informally observe the student and the teacher, and may offer additional suggestions based on her knowledge and experience. Sometimes the suggestions are made at the IST meeting, other times they are made afterward. If the original support plan and interventions are not effective, the principal may request that the school psychologist conduct additional testing to better pinpoint the problem, and/or she may request the services of districts behavior specialist. The case manager (who is usually not the principal) documents the students progress. All members of the IST are kept informed of each new development.

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Because the principal is perceived as having expert knowledge in the areas of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and behavior management, team members see her leadership of the IST as valuable and her support as helpful. In all the interviews I conducted, teachers and support staff never voiced any doubt as to the principals motivation or her competence. Teachers indicated that the principal expects to see improvements and increased learning. Thus, data are used to keep track of the students progress or lack of it. Teachers indicated that the principal is persistent and follows up with the teacher. These findings indicate that clusters of skills, knowledge and practices, not a discrete practice, action or strategy, work together to make this principals leadership for special education effective. Without the knowledge of special education, the teachers would not be so likely to embrace her suggestions and trust her leadership of special education. Without being convinced of her ethics of care and her willingness to develop personal relationships with students, staff and parents, it is possible that the teachers would bristle under her suggestions and see her support as interference with their job or micro-management. Without structures and strategies for administering the instructional programs for continuous improvement, the coteaching reform initiative might be perceived as a scheme designed to save the district money. Simply stated, her leadership and involvement in the instructional support team was effective because she was knowledgeable, trustworthy, and focused on improving outcomes for children. Virtually every interview and focus group that I conducted gave testimony to the principals support for special education. This principals practices included many researchbased strategies to improve learning. She has a deep knowledge of both special education and general education, and had the interpersonal skills to form relationships and to motivate and empower the members of the school. Her moral purpose and ethics of care inspire teachers and

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support staff to take on challenging assignments. Thus a major finding of this research study is that the principals knowledge and skills, her beliefs and attitudes and her practices and the structures she develops are all interrelated and complex. One without the other is not sufficient: they all work to together. For all these reasons, this principal was able to step beyond inclusion and lead so that students with disabilities achieved AYP. Surprises: Support for Co-Teaching within the Least Restrictive Environment One of the major surprises of this study was discovering how easily this staff seemed to embrace co-teaching in what the districts Committee on Special Education identified as the least restrictive environment. Almost two-thirds of the staff I interviewed had over 17 years experience in schools. Many of these teachers had been in Empire Elementary School their entire career. As I interviewed teachers and staff, I was amazed at how well they understood the nuances of collaboration and inclusive practices. From almost every vantage point, the data suggests that the staff at this school knows how to collaborate and have adopted a sophisticated understanding of the value collaboration. Teachers at this school indicated that they understand that co-teaching is so much more that two people sharing one job. I was beginning to think that the professors from the local college who provided the professional learning experiences to the staff were the greatest staff developers in the world. Then I learned about a book that was written about the district and published thirteen years ago. As I read, my thinking changed. I learned about an integrated, sustained district and school reform initiative that took place almost fourteen years ago. The book described a fourteen-year long reform initiative that brought the concept of school excellence to the forefront of the district. Most of the schools in the district gained national acclaim for their focus on student achievement and best practices. Two of the major tenets of the initiatives were that decisions

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are made collaboratively and that all children can learn. In reading the book, I gained new insight into understanding the staffs willingness to give up their own classroom and autonomy over their own practice in favor of collaboration and co-teaching. According to the evidence I gathered, veteran staff willingly adopted co-teaching, a collaborative teaching model where two teachers both share instruction for a group of students, and were successful enough that the school attained AYP for all sub-groups. As some of the teachers told me during interview and focus group discussion, the teachers were highly collaborative. On the one hand, I suggest that the long-standing culture of collaboration among teachers who know each other well made it easy for the largely veteran teachers to reach back into their old bag of past practices and pull out and brush off the collaborative practices. It was heartening to learn that well-established and much respected initiatives can be discontinued and abandoned but their impact on teachers practices is still noticeable even fourteen years afterwards. On the other hand, I suggest that there may be something in this principals leadership that has motivated this largely veteran teaching staff to select a co-teacher and embrace the special education service delivery model. Both theories are speculative; I had not set out to study co-teaching, but this surprise finding gradually unfolded until I had to take notice. Connections to Theoretical Underpinnings and the Extant Literature Connections to the Domains The findings and discussion sections for this study are organized to fall under the framework developed by Leithwood and Riehl (2003) and refined in Leithwood and Riehl (2005). In a general way, I use the three broad categories of core leadership practices that lead to students academic success to extend the understandings of this principals leadership for

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student achievement of students with disabilities. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) refer to these practices as: setting directions (p. 17), developing people (p. 19), and redesigning the organization (p. 20). To differentiate my work from the works of others, I refer to the three categories as domains and use the terms: direction setting, personnel development, and organization redesign. Leithwood (2006) added a fourth broad category specific to education, managing the instructional program. This category is embedded in all three domains. In this section, I discuss the findings of this study and their relationship to Leithwood and Riehls (2003) and Leithwood (2006) model. Domain of Direction Setting Leithwood et al. (2004) suggest that those leadership practices included in this domain account for the largest portion of a leaders impact (p.8). Leithwood and Riehl (2003) state that effective principals spend time identifying and articulating a vision, fostering the acceptance of group goals and creating high performance expectations (p. 18). In this section, I discuss how a representative group of participants perceived the practices, beliefs and attitudes of the principal, and how her leadership shaped the direction the school took to become more inclusive. Simply stated, all the evidence that I have gathered and compiled concerning Lauras leadership practices indicates that all efforts are directed toward the development of a school focused on student achievement for all students, including students with disabilities. Through Lauras leadership, the teachers, staff and parents became committed to a direction and vision of their school as an inclusive one where all students with disabilities can and will learn, and she was able to influence all of these constituents to develop and accept school goals related to that direction. Leithwood et al. (2004) suggest that, next to the individual teacher, the principal

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is the second most important factor in student achievement. Other studies point to the importance of focusing on student learning (Leithwood et al, 2004; Marzano, et al 2004; Waits et al, 2006). The practices that Laura has adopted such as parent outreach, data sharing and assessment analysis, and monitoring student progress all point toward the goal of increased achievement for students, including those with disabilities. Moreover, while the district has a long-standing history of support for collaboration processes, such as co-teaching, Lauras moral purpose, passion, and commitment to the direction of improving student achievement gave collaboration a new purpose. Goor, Schwenn and Boyers (1997) research indicates that strong leadership and support is essential to the overall success of special education. At Empire Elementary, study participants discuss numerous occasions where the principal of the school was both a strong and supportive leader. For example, the principal was strong when she stood her ground when talking to parents about school safety. The principal was supportive of the teacher, the student and the students parent when, for example, she intervened in the discipline situation at the end of the school. Elmore (2002) suggests the building principal shapes the norms of the school. Members of the school community expressed the perception that this principal was committed to providing a quality education to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. Several teachers tied her vision of the school to co-teaching, and Lauras own words describe a principal who feels duty bound to ensure that all students are provided genuine access to the general education curriculum. Lauras first and last concern expressed to me had to do with establishing a safe and productive learning environment in the school. Subsequent discussions with the teachers and support staff clarified the widely held perceptions as to how the overall

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direction of the school in becoming more inclusive was essential for students with disabilities to learn the general education curriculum and thus be able to demonstrate academic achievement. As I interviewed teachers and staff, I learned that the principals ability to suggest instructional strategies to be used with students who were not learning through standard instruction and her ability to help teachers manage the behaviors of disruptive students were skills that garnered a great deal of appreciation. Blas and Blas (2004), in their research of how successful principals promote teaching and learning, found that successful principals used five strategies including making suggestions, giving feedback, modeling, using inquiry, and soliciting advice and opinions. They found that Proactively giving advice for the improvement of instruction was one central and powerful element of principals verbal interactions (p.30). In order for this school to become more inclusive, teachers and support staff needed to feel confident in their ability to meet the needs of all students in their charge. I argue that this principals ability to suggest strategies, Blas and Blass (2004) first effective practice to promote teaching and learning, and willingness to assist teachers to address behavioral problems, gave the staff the confidence to attempt co-teaching. Although classroom management has long been thought to be a duty of the classroom teacher (Marzano 2003a; Sprick, Garrison, & Howard, 1998), the teachers in this school indicated that they were able to handle very difficult students with very challenging behaviors with the help of the principal. The one teacher with the very difficult student indicated she learned from Lauras interaction with the student. Modeling is another practice found to promote teaching and learning (Blas and Blas, 2004). The necessity of establishing a safe and orderly environment was voiced as a key belief of this principal and is identified as a key skill

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of successful principals (Cotton, 2003). The findings of this study indicate that teachers and staff perceive Lauras ability to help with unruly children as one of her strengths. Based on accounts given to me by the teachers and support staff, I suggest that this principal brings expertise, energy, and moral purpose to the co-teaching program initiated by the district. This co-teaching initiative, as it is implemented in Empire Elementary School, is not just another district mandate; it is perceived as the reform agenda for the school. Under Lauras leadership, teachers and support staff were willing to provide the general education curriculum to students with disabilities in co-teaching classes. Later, when it was decided that co-teaching was not the best special education service for meeting the needs of a few students, staff were willing to reestablish a special class for mathematics and reading. The schools goal was not to service all students in co-teaching classrooms, but rather to ensure that excellent coteaching was taking place in those classrooms where it was established. Furthermore, the general education curriculum would be provided to all students, even those in self-contained reading and mathematics classes. Evidence supports the notion that the principal, teachers and support staff in this school indicated their willingness to participate in the co-teaching program, even thought it meant changing the way they delivered instruction and worked, because they thought it was the right thing to do. Sergiovanni (2000) puts forward the idea that School effectiveness requires authentic leadership, leadership that is sensitive to the unique values, beliefs, needs and wishes of local professionals and citizens who best know the conditions needed for a particular group of students in a particular context (vii-ix). Congruent with the ideals advocated by Sergiovanni (2000), the teachers, staff and most, but not all, parents in this

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community have taken a stance that co-teaching is a good way to meet the needs of most, but not all, of the students with disabilities in the building. Creating expectations for high performance. Principal Laura has high expectations, and high expectations have a strong foundation in research as a best practice (Cotton, 1989, Cotton 2000; Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, 1996; Edmonds, 1982; Gates, Ross, & Brewer, 2001; National Association of Elementary School Principals, 2001; Reeves, 2000, Senge, 1990). In this case, this principals expectations are coupled with the widely held belief that the schools teachers and support staff have the capacity to meet the needs of students. In discussing the components of strong administrative leadership, Cotton (2003) states: They [strong administrative leaders] believe that all students can learn and that the school makes the difference between success and failure. In this school, these same high expectations were coupled with personal support, professional development and needed resources. Managing the instructional program. Brown (2001), in his meta-analysis of research on the influence of leaders, concludes that instructional leadership had the largest influence. Lauras focus on instruction is congruent with Browns (2001) research that suggests exemplary principals focus all efforts toward the improvement of teaching and learning. In keeping with her conceptions of shared power, commitment to authentic collaboration, and trust in the teachers and support staffs judgment, expertise and professionalism, the principal facilitated the staff in adopting school-wide strategies for academic achievement that include: writing fiction daily, collaborative scoring of student work, prioritizing and focusing on the power standards, and mathematics fact mastery. She has developed a habit of reflection that serves her well in analysis of student progress.

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In our final interview, she said she is encouraging the teachers who are eligible to engage in action research. Like reflective practices, action research is a means of understanding ones own actions, practices and approaches for the purpose of improving outcomes. One teacher mentioned that she was thinking of conducting action research and had several ideas in mind. Laura herself is engaged in action research, so she is both a role model and a practitioner. Domain of Personnel Development In this section, I organize my findings to include those practices, beliefs and attitudes, knowledge and skills that fall within the domain of personnel development. This section details the ways in which Laura leads the staff to become better teachers and then discusses how her strategies to develop personnel have improved teaching and learning for students with disabilities. Again using Leithwood and Riehls (2003) model of the core set of basic leadership practices as a framework, I delve into other areas where this principals leadership practices are perceived to impact student achievement. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) speak to the leaders knowledge of the technical core of schooling what is required to improve the quality of teaching and learning (p. 19). Also, Leithwood and Riehl (2003) include emotional intelligence in this domain. A leader shows this type of intelligence when paying attention to the needs of an employee by providing individualized support. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) identify more specific leadership practices to include offering intellectual stimulation (p.19), providing individual support (p. 20), and providing an appropriate model. Beyond providing professional development, time for collaborative work, and opportunities to dialogue with colleagues, personnel development extends to the heart of leadership that is the ability to establish relationships (Barth, 2001; Fullan, 2001; Marzano, 2003).

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In keeping with Leithwood and Riehls (2003) framework component of developing people, Laura is seen as the educational leader of the building because she provides intellectual stimulation, support, and models instructional leadership and pedagogical skills that affect special education. In this case she supports co-teachers in acquiring the skills and capacities to teach a wide variety of students including students with disabilities. She has a deep knowledge of the technical core of schooling and is able to provide supervision on co-teaching to affect improvements in teaching and learning. Blas and Blas (2004) also speak to the supervisory conference as the centerpiece of instructional leadership. Like the principals in Jacobson et al. (2004), the principal in this study arranged for professional development and worked to develop the skills of the classroom teachers. In addition to taking the district sponsored co-teaching professional development for leaders, Laura studied articles, books and research studies on the topic of co-teaching. She was familiar with the six arrangements for co-teaching espoused by Cook and Friend (1996) and is able to coach the teachers to go beyond their training. In other words, she uses co-teaching meetings and faculty meetings (with general education and special education teachers) to develop teachers in instructional strategies that contribute to improvements in student achievement for students with disabilities. For example, in her monthly meetings with special educators, the principal and teachers engaged in extended dialogue and discussions about the approaches to co-teaching used during the week. According to teachers, as the school year progresses and instructional staff became comfortable with the co-teaching approaches, the principal switched her emphasis to looking at data that would evidence increased student learning. Laura holds on going dialogues with the staff about instructional issues and supports professional growth. She models values that all children with disabilities can achieve as well as

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instructional practices and attitudes that help realize that vision. In so doing, Laura develops teachers, staff, and parents in ways that build capacity for improving student achievement for all students. As Capper et al. (2000) recommends, Laura has clearly shifted her responsibilities to include participation as a member of collaborative problem-solving teams that invent solutions from the ground up. In Capper et als (2000) words, By becoming members of teams, staffs learn together how to turn the vision of a unified system into the reality of the merger of all services to wrap around all students based on needs (p.39). Laura is a reflective practitioner who examines her own behaviors and responses. She puzzled about the angry parents until she found an approach that worked for her. Blas and Blas (2004) suggest that increased awareness of ones professional performance can result in considerable improvement of performance (p.86). Teachers indicate that she is willing to discuss problems, strategies and theory of education with them. As one special education teacher put it, She provides resources we need. That means professional books and it means instructional resources for working with struggling learners. As Leithwood and Riehl (2003) suggest, a principal must have both the technical core and the emotional intelligence to be a successful educational leader. Repeatedly teachers indicated that they had a good relationship with Laura, that she listened to them and understood them, and that they trusted her. Laura took a personal interest in the teachers with whom she worked. Laura demonstrated her ethics of care for the teachers and support staff by expressing an interest in their intellectual and professional growth. Lauras ethics of care go hand and hand with her moral purpose and need for educational equity for all students in the school. I suggest that these attitudes go to the heart and make teachers and support staff willing to follow her lead. Laura takes a personal interest in

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finding solutions to students problems as demonstrated by reflecting on the students. For example, she discussed the two boys who were bright but unable to pass the English language arts assessment and worked with teachers to find the root of their problems. When students are sent to her because of behavior issues, she helps them to learn to better manage their emotions and she stresses to them the importance of making good choices. Domain of Organizational Redesign In this section, I illustrate how this principals practices, beliefs and attitudes, knowledge and skills work together to go beyond the customary dimensions of organizational redesign described by Leithwood and Riehl (2003) and by Jacobson et al. (2004) to develop a professional learning community that meets the needs of all students. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) state that schools that have leaders who are able to develop as effective communities are able to sustain the performance of teachers and students. According to Leithwood and Riehl (2003), three sets of leadership practices are associated with this category. They include strengthening school cultures (p. 20), modifying organizational structures (p. 20), and building collaborative processes (p. 20). Strengthening school cultures. Here I discuss the major initiatives and strategies the school has adopted to improve outcomes for students and the climate and culture in the building that support these changes. Since Laura began her principalship, this school, like all public schools in the United States, is publicly held accountable for student learning through the No Child Left Behind Act. Initially, the district adopted co-teaching as a strategy for students with disabilities to acquire the knowledge skills inherent in the general education curriculum. Under Lauras leadership, Empire Elementary School has accepted the challenge to provide highquality special education to students with disabilities, many of whom have moderate to severe

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disabilities. Some of these students require intensive special education services. Laura quickly recognized that she had to strengthen the school culture to embrace the values of inclusive practices, set high expectations so that students with disabilities could and would achieve academically, and offer co-teaching as the vehicle to best take the school in that direction. The staffs beliefs about the school included the widely held perception that a disproportionately large number of students with disabilities attend Empire Elementary School and in some ways, that belief was coupled with the notion that the school could not meet the performance standards with a large population of students with disabilities. Laura worked continuously to help staff and parents raise their expectations for children with disabilities. Like many school principals, this principal involves parents, uses data to guide instruction and analyzes assessment results to improve student learning. She uses collaborative teams to analyze student data and make plans for improvement. Cotton (2003) includes these practices in the fifteen contextual and instructional attributes in her list of effective practices that improve learning for students. She makes the point that a piecemeal approach does not yield school improvement. Cotton (2003) states: Effective practices cannot be maximally effective without school-wide buy in and support (p.2). Findings suggest that Laura was able to strengthen the school culture so that she was able to garner school-wide support for coteaching. Beyond that, she altered many of the structures so that teachers and support staff were better able to focus attention on teaching and learning for students in general education as well as special education. Modifying existing school structures. Other schools in the district were given the same mandate to co-teach. Findings suggest that this school embraced it. Prior to Lauras tenure as principal there were many self-contained classes and a pull-out resource room program. Most

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special classes were exchanged for co-teaching classes and pullout resource room services were replaced with consultant teacher services in the regular education classroom. By all accounts, this schools Instructional Support Team was modified so that the team was better able to prevent students from being referred to special education. Later in this chapter, the structure of co-teaching will be discussed in more depth as a key finding of this study. Building collaborative processes. Additional data support the contention that the principal built the collaborative processes in the school so that teachers were able to adopt and implement school wide practices that focus on improving learning such as the Reeves (2002) collaborative examination of student work, non-fiction writing, and focus on mathematics fact mastery. These programs were designed to help students form a firm foundation in Math and English Language Arts and these school-wide strategies were perceived as improving outcomes for all the students in the school including students with disabilities. As Laura developed teachers and staff with the knowledge and skills to use these instructional strategies, she also developed general education and special education teachers as collaborative teams with common goals. The findings of this study build on the framework of core leadership practices identified by Leithwood and Riehl (2003) as the leadership practices of principals that result in improved student achievement. While Leithwood and Riehl (2003) focused on general education, this research study targets the perceptions of what a principal has done to improve special education. This study extends the findings of Leithwood and Riehl (2003) and Jacobson et al. (2004) to include a principals attitudes and beliefs as well as the specific steps a principal can take to redesign a school to meet the needs of students with disabilities through co-teaching.

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Connection to Special Education Literature Burrello, Schrup, & Barnes (1992) argue that the principals attitude towards students with disabilities influences the success of the program. Durtschi (2005), in a study of 566 Wisconsin elementary school principals, found that having a positive attitude towards inclusion was important to successful inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms. Analysis of the perceptions of teachers, support staff, parents and students indicate that this principals attitude toward special education is supportive. The findings of this study indicate that the principal of the school has embraced the districts co-teaching initiative and takes an active role in implementing the districts Least Restrictive Environment policy. Leadership with a moral purpose (Fullan, 2001, Sergiovanni 1996: Sergiovanni, 2000), such as this principals acceptance of the philosophy of least restrictive environment, has long been seen as the first step in improving outcomes for students with disabilities (Raimondi, 1986; Stetson, 1979; Talley & Burnette, 1982; Villa & Thousand, 2003). Like the principals who embrace diversity studied by Riehl (2000), this principal expresses the belief that ensuring all students the right to have the general education curriculum made accessible to them is the fair and righteous thing to do. This principal takes the attitude that given sufficient differentiation and scaffolding of instruction and learning tasks, students will be successful. This principals high expectations are described in more detail in the section of this chapter titled domain of direction setting. Her attitude paves the way for students with disabilities to achieve at high rates. This principals interpersonal skills are such that she has formed relationships with teachers, support staff students and parents. Fullan (2001) stresses the importance of relationships in moving the work forward. In this case, she has called teachers to co-teach. As a

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result of co-teaching, the principal has adjusted school structures so that many of schools personnel resources are used are used to provide a more inclusive special education program. Capper, Frattura & Keyes (2000) present a framework for change that calls for the flexible usage of resources. Laura is knowledgeable of special education law and regulations, has been a co-teacher, and has extensive experience with students with disabilities. Research has shown that principals with knowledge of special education have better outcomes than principals without that knowledge (Barnett & Monda-Amaya, 1998; Bateman & Bateman, 2001, DiPaola, TschannenMoran & Walther-Thomas, 2004; Praisner, 2003). Further, she has an excellent foundation in the skills needed for instructional leadership curriculum and assessment (Hallinger & Heck, 1996). She has expertise in a broad range of instructional strategies to help teachers provide specially designed instruction, the bedrock of special education. Havelock and Hamilton (2004) advocate for principals to have a thorough knowledge of strategies and interventions to assist teachers who are struggling to teach students with disabilities. Key to true special education reform is a system that ensures that general education students are provided excellent initial instruction and that early identification and prevention programs are in place to help struggling learners (Finn, Rotherham, & Hokason, 2001). Laura has seen to it that the teachers in the school receive professional development so that they have the skills to provide all students with an excellent foundation in reading, mathematics and science and can, when necessary, provide early intervening services. In the section of this chapter titled Domain of Personnel Development, I discussed how Laura and the school district ensure that students with disabilities in the school receive instruction from well-trained teachers.

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Brown-Chidsey & Steege (2005) advocate for the use of response to intervention techniques as a method of monitoring student progress. Laura has seen to it that the teachers in the school have been trained in response to intervention and that there are procedures in place to provide students with disabilities and students at risk of being identified with research-based interventions and programs. The structure of the school supports the co-teaching initiative and its focus on learning. Brown (2001), in his meta-analysis on the influence of leadership on student outcomes, concludes that focus on learning is the number one factor leading to improved results for all students. The constituents of the school perceive that Lauras leadership practices for special education improvement incorporate structures for communication, instruction, and program management. Cook and Friend (1996) advocate for principals to provide joint planning time to coteachers and for identifying co-teachers who volunteer to work together. Further, they recommend co-teachers use a variety of co-teaching arrangements this principal monitors and discusses the co-teaching arrangements with the special education teachers. The provision of joint planning time and teacher volunteers are practices used by this principal. As a result of her leadership, many of the students with disabilities are meeting the same standards as students without disabilities. Students with disabilities receive instruction that is aligned to the state standards and, to the greatest extent possible, they receive their instruction in regular education classes. DiPaola & Walther-Thomas (2003), in their review of leadership standards, argue that the leadership framework is based on the needs of all students and the standards that are good for general education are good for special education.

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While Laura has adopted many productive leadership practices, it is her ethic of care and her moral purpose that sets her apart from many of her peers. Teachers and support staff spoke about how Laura wants the best for students and teaches them when they are with her. When dealing with students who are sent to her office, data suggests that Laura stresses the importance of making good choices, learning from mistakes, and telling the truth. Noddings (1992) emphasizes that it is important to teach children how to behave at school and at home. In the words of one of the general education teachers, Its just a nice little community kind of feeling. DiPaolo et al. (2004) discuss five dimension of effective special education leadership, and they state: Effective special education services depend on the ability and willingness of school leaders to: a. promote an inclusive school culture; b. provide instructional leadership; c. model collaborative leadership; d. manage and administer organizational processes; and e. build and maintain positive relations with teachers, families and community (p. 3). Consistent with the research of DiPaola et al. (2004), analysis of the perceptions about the principal in this study suggests that the principal exercises leadership in all of the dimensions of special education. By doing so, DiPaola et al (2004) suggest that the principal creates the context for academic success. Connections to the Co-Teaching Literature There is a small, but growing body of literature that supports co- teaching (Bawens & Hourcad, 1995; Cook & Friend, 1996; DiPaola & Walther-Thomas, 2003; Friend & Cook, 2003; Vaughn, Schumm & Arguelles, 1997; Walter-Thomas, Bryant & Land, 1996). This study

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extends that literature to include steps that the principal of a school can take to support staff in their co-teaching. These steps our built around following key findings. Key findings. The first key finding, one that is prevalent in the literature, is that coteachers schedules allow time for planning. In keeping with advice from Cook & Friend (1996) and Villa & Thousand (2004) on promising co-teaching practices, the principal in the study states that she believes that common planning time is important. Extending the literature on coteaching, this study specifies the amount of time teachers are given to co-plan. Each day the teachers have a forty-minute period for collaborative work. The co-teachers state that they have one 40-minute period per week in which they are scheduled to meet with peers to co-plan. Additional time is allotted to consult with parents, work on professional skills such as collaborative scoring of student work, engage in committee work, complete paperwork and/or attend meetings. This time is in addition to teachers daily 35-minute planning period. If teachers need more time for co-planning, they may request that substitute teachers be provided and they are freed from their regular teaching assignment. Another key finding is that teachers said the principal is willing and has the ability to provide guidance in selecting additional supports such as student specific instructional strategies and behavior management assistance. Blas and Blas (2004) found that suggesting strategies was an effective practice in promoting teaching and learning. The strategies are discussed during the special education teacher meetings, when teachers involve the principal in student discipline or student learning, during the instructional support team meetings and/or after informal visits or formal post-observation supervisory conferences. Building on the body of literature for best leadership practices (Marzano et al, 2004) and behavior management

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strategies (Marzano 2003a), this principal takes an active role in ensuring that students with disabilities are exposed to research-based best practices. A third key finding is that this principal, as part of her supervisory practice, conducts clinical observations of one lesson presented by co-teachers. In other words, the principal observes a lesson and leaves the classroom with observation data from two teachers. In this way, the principal is able to offer her observations of each co-teacher, thus opening the door for teachers to continue to dialogue about the lesson and co-teaching. Interestingly, co-teachers did not mention co-teaching observations by the principal. While clinical supervision has a strong foundation in best practice (Blas & Blas, 2004; Danielson & McGreal, 2000; Glickman, Gordon, Ross-Gordon, 2001), I have been unable to find more than a general suggestion that supervisory observations might be used in consultative or co-teaching situations. A fourth key finding is that this principal closely monitors the progress of students with disabilities. During monthly meetings with special education teachers, data concerning students progress is discussed. One teacher says the principal puts the data into chart format so that they can better see students progress. DiPaola et al (2004) encourage principals to use data to monitor growth of students with disabilities. Extensions to the Literature: Importance of Beliefs and Attitudes. Few educational administration research studies provide explicit evidence to link a leaders beliefs and attitudes to improvements in classroom practice. Haberman and Dill (1999) provide one of the few studies that describe the attributes of star principals, that is, principals who are effective despite difficult circumstances. They state that these principals behaviors are undergirded by an ideology . . . the ideology and behaviors are interwoven; they are of one piece (p.1). Many of the beliefs held by the star principals are similar to statements that Laura

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made concerning her beliefs. Haberman and Dill (1999) state the star principals beliefs include: safety and security of everyone in the building is prerequisite to learning; the principals role is to support teachers in helping improve students learning; leadership is helping the community to seek what is in the best interest of the students, not acceding to whatever they wan;, important decisions are made with others; and the focus of the school is on kids and meeting their educational needs. Further, they argue that the source of the principals beliefs is based upon reflection for extracting lessons from personal experiences. My findings support Haberman and Dills (1999) findings and add more contextualized examples of how a leaders beliefs and attitudes impact classroom practices for students with disabilities. When Laura discussed the difficulty she had with parents, she concluded that ending the meeting with people mad at her was not the best way to handle the matter. Like star principals, she reflected on the incident and extracted lessons from her experience. The principal in this study is a lifelong learner, who takes theory from coursework, study, and professional development and applies it to her practice. Evidence suggests that teachers in this school are motivated to increase their craft knowledge. Based on statements made by teachers and support staff, I suggest that something in Lauras leadership has motivated teachers to increase their knowledge of instruction for students with disabilities. Whether teachers are motivated to increase their craft knowledge because of the principals hands-on involvement with them to improve instructional and behavioral skills, or her willingness to engage in in-depth professional conversations or the articles she places in teachers mailboxes is speculative. Likewise, I found that Durtschi (2005), in his study of Wisconsin principals, found that principals attitudes towards the inclusion of students with disabilities were important. He

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stated, Principals should be made aware of the impact of their attitudes on others (p. 109). Lauras attitude towards providing quality instruction to students in the least restrictive environment is clear, and evidence suggests that the teachers in the school have adopted similar attitudes. Ethics of Care Many scholars have identified the importance of ethics of care to effective leadership (e.g. Kouzes & Posner 1999; Noddings, 1992; Noddings, 2007; Sergiovanni, 1996). However, this literature does not specifically link leaders caring attitudes to improvements in teaching and learning for students with disabilities. The findings of this study extend this leadership literature on an ethics of care by linking this principals supervisory practices and attitudes toward students with disabilities to teachers support of co-teaching and data analysis practices. In turn, many interviewees connected the principals caring approach to supervision of coteaching and her care for students with disabilities to their willingness to try instructional approaches with struggling learners. Many teachers credit these instructional changes with improvements in achievement for students with disabilities. For example, the special education teachers interviewed in this study felt that the principal provided support and encouragement and understood their needs. Further, this study suggests those personal dispositions such as creating relationships, developing trust, and exhibiting ethics of caring are important. The teachers and support staff interviewed in this study felt that the principal provided support and encouragement and understood their needs. Because of her leadership, students with disabilities were provided genuine access to the general education curriculum and the school was able to achieve AYP in total and for students with disabilities.

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Chapter VII Conclusions This study examined the practices, beliefs and attitudes of a principal in an elementary school where a large number of students with moderate to severe disabilities are enrolled. The findings indicated that the principal has a great deal of knowledge in the areas of curriculum, assessment and instruction. Moreover, she is trained in special education, and is knowledgeable of special education laws and regulations, the categories of disabilities, and strategies to help teachers individualize instruction for students with disabilities. As a principal, she shows caring and concern for the students and staff in the building. Key to her success is that she shares her positional power with the teachers in the school for the purpose of developing a system of structures and supports that are designed to meet the needs of students and teachers assigned to the school. Her practices are closely aligned to her beliefs and attitudes and, as a result, the special education teachers and general education teachers in co-teaching classrooms are willing to follow her lead. Again, I make the argument that it is her leadership that has guided the schools teachers and support staff in providing instruction so that all students in the school, including the sub-group of students with disabilities, achieved AYP. In this final chapter, I will discuss the limitations of this study. Additionally, I posit that this study holds implications for theory and practice. Finally, I present the contributions to the literature made by this study and make recommendations for further study. Limitations Limitations of a Single Case Study A number of limitations of this study need to be noted. First, this research study presents the articulated leadership practices of one principal. A representative group of

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teachers, support staff, parents and students confirmed the principals practices. While these perceptions of special education leadership offer insight into the practices, beliefs and attitude of a single principal, the fact remains that the study of only one principal is a major limitation. The actions taken by the principal are based on the context and culture of the school. By most accounts, the teachers in this school have a history of working collaboratively together. Data collected during this study suggests that the teachers, when asked, were willing to coteach, and co-teaching partners were identified without much difficulty. How much of this principals success is due to the actions, strategies and practices she adopted and how much can be attributed to the staff, their training and experience, and the existing culture of the building is speculative. What can be said is that there is a match between the actions, strategies, and practices adopted by the principal and the needs, desires and aspirations of the schools teachers, support staff, parents and students. Thus, a second limitation of this research is that I have studied only a single setting. Both of these limitations relate to generalization. Like most of the available research on principal leadership and special education, the small sample clearly limits the generalization of research results from this school to other schools. However, the results from this case study can be compared to other case studies that look at similar issues. At the beginning of this chapter, I suggested that it is likely that many practices, beliefs, and attitudes combine to produce student achievement for students with disabilities as measured by attainment of AYP in English language arts and mathematics. A third limitation of this study is that I am unable to ascertain which practices have the greatest affect on the attainment of AYP. Further, since the principal has adopted many research-based best practices, it is impossible to isolate the combination of practices, strategies, and structures are most

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effective. Even if I were able to do so, the context of this school is unique and it would be speculative to suggest that the beliefs and attitudes, practices, strategies, and practices that work in this school would work in the same way in another school. At the same time, readers may recognize similarities between challenges in their own settings and Empire Elementary, and thus, make connections between this case and their own schools. As mentioned throughout the findings and discussion, this principals attitudes and beliefs add the elements of moral righteousness and caring to her practices. The effectiveness of this principals practices without her beliefs and attitudes is also speculative. This study paints a picture of what one principal has done to improve results for students with disabilities, but the elements of practice cannot be separated from her knowledge and skills, her beliefs and attitudes. Limitations Due to Demographics Another limitation of this study is that the students in this school are not economically diverse. The school does not receive Title 1 funding and only about 12% of the student body receives free or reduced price lunch, common measures used to ascertain the socioeconomic status of the students in a school. Low socioeconomic status is often correlated to low student achievement, just as high socioeconomic status correlates to high achievement (Kim and Sunderman, 2005). It is possible that students with disabilities, even those with severe disabilities, who are not economically disadvantaged, are able to achieve proficiency in literacy and mathematics without exceptional leadership. It is possible that by virtue of the socioeconomic status of their families that these students are provided with sufficient motivation and support to achieve proficiency in literacy and mathematics without strong principal leadership. While

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socioeconomic status may play a part in the success of this school, it is undeniable that the principal has taken many steps to improve outcomes for students with disabilities in this school. Implications After reviewing the literature on special education and the principalship, conducting a study of an exemplary principals leadership of special education, comparing the findings to literature, and reflecting on the limitations of the study, several implications emerge. The intent of this study was to understand the practices, beliefs and attitudes of an effective principal. Other researchers may take the practices, beliefs and attitudes expressed by this principal and employ other methodologies to study larger groups of principals. Implications for Future Research This study points out the need for additional research studies of other exemplary principals and their leadership of special education. With almost 14% of the population of the nations schools identified as students with disabilities, there is the need for large scale study of principals practices and student achievement as they relate to special education. Qualitative research methods could also be used to further refine best leadership practices on behalf of students with disabilities and their academic success. Multiple case studies, similar to this one, could help pinpoint how much knowledge of special education is needed for a principal to effectively lead special education. Additional case studies could also help to lend more specificity as to which of the many practices this principal has adopted has led to achievement for students with disabilities. In addition, multiple case studies could be further investigated using quantitative methods to identify the practices most correlated to student achievement.

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Implications for Practice One of the major strengths of the principal in this study is her preparation for the role of principal and the skills she has acquired in order to move the school beyond inclusion in ways that contribute to improvements in achievement for students with disabilities. Because the principal in this study has many courses in special education and has experience in working with students with disabilities, she is well prepared to lead special educational reform and to provide support to teachers so that students with disabilities receive high-quality instruction. Knowledge of strategies for specializing instruction as well as skills to help teachers with behavior management emerged as a key factor in this principals successful leadership. Principals need to be able to support teachers emotionally as they struggle with teaching atypical learners. Sometimes this may mean staying late and discussing solutions to classroom problems with the teacher, calling the students home on behalf of the teacher, or taking advantage of professional development opportunities to learn more about special education and other areas of instruction. As in this case, it may mean developing people around the art and science of co-teaching for students with disabilities. Marzano (2006) posits that there is an art and craft to teaching; I suggest that there is an art and craft to school leadership, especially as it pertains to special education. As suggested by Leithwood and Riehl, (2003) principals need expertise in the core leadership practices, but beyond those practices this study supports the notion that principals need knowledge of special education as well as the human relationship skills to motivate staff to take on the hard work of school reform. The art of the principalship may have much to do with a deep understanding of human nature and the context and culture of the school. How a principals expertise in human

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relationships can be acquired and reinforced in practice are questions for further consideration and study. Contributions and Recommendations Contributions Likely, there are many schools like Empire Elementary School. Schools in which their district has enrolled a larger than average number of students with moderate to severe disabilities. These principals may feel powerless to address the learning needs of such students. This study provides a contextualized description and analysis of the practice, beliefs and attitudes of one principals leadership on behalf of students with disabilities. The study extends the literature on co-teaching by expanding and refining the role of principal leadership. In examining a co-teaching initiative in a school with an extraordinarily large number of students with moderate to severe disabilities, principals in similar situations may find ideas, strategies and best practices that they can use in their own school. The importance of common planning time reinforces the literature on co-teaching. Some of the structures such as the monthly meetings with the special education teachers, grade level and special education liaisons, and grade-level meeting notes seem to aid in the implementation of the co-teaching program. The fact that this principal monitors the progress of the children in the co-teaching classes appears to hold promise for improving results of students with disabilities. The attitudes and beliefs of this principal concerning the education of students with disabilities contribute to the extant literature. By reinforcing the view that the core leadership practices that are effective for general education students achievement are also effective for students with disabilities achievement, principals have a framework that they can use to improve their leadership of special education.

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Recommendations My first recommendation is for principals to learn as much as they can about special education law and regulations, strategies to provide specialized instruction and to manage student behavior, and the thirteen categories of educational disabilities recognized under IDEA. Evidence from this study and others suggests that in order to lead improvement in special education, principals need to become knowledgeable in these areas of special education. The principal in this study stayed current in her knowledge of special education through dialogue with teachers in her building and other administrators, and inquiry into the literature on coteaching, and by participation in professional development opportunities, she expanded her knowledge. Through district sponsored in-service programs, professional learning opportunities offered though the state education agency or independent agencies, and/or self-directed study, principals have the resources to increase their knowledge of special education. My second recommendation is for colleges and universities providing educational administration programs to offer a variety of courses in special education topics to aspiring and seated administrators. Praisner (2003) studied elementary principals in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and found the majority of principals participated in extended learning on only four to six of 14 identified special education topics. Durtschi (2005) studied Wisconsin elementary principals and found that the majority of principals had taken between one and nine credit hours in special education, and over a third of the principals who participated in the study took more than ten credit hours. Durtschi (2005) concludes: Colleges and university must ensure that their principal licensure coursework includes all the necessary [special education} topics to help develop future educational leaders. As mentioned previously, the principal in this study had an extensive coursework and experience in special education. Evidence suggests

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that she is perceived by her staff and parents as an effective special education administrator and leader. In-depth knowledge, experience, and skills, especially those linked to effective, inclusive special education practices, are necessary if principals are to lead their schools in achieving the goal of proficiency in literacy and mathematics outlined in NCLB and IDEA. Based on skills and knowledge of the principal in this study, I suggest coursework in special education law, supervision of collaborative and co-teaching practices, leadership for exemplary instruction for students with disabilities, and leadership practices for behavior management of difficult students. Third, the findings of this study validate the importance of an instructional support team. I recommend the person who has the greatest knowledge of instructional strategies and behavior management techniques, often the principal, leads the Instructional Support Team. Often principals hesitate to take the leadership role in this committee or the district recommends that the principal not lead this committee. If the principal is willing to do the work and has the expertise, then the principal should be the committee leader. The necessity for following up on the referring situation for a long period of time seems to be key to ensuring student success. Fourth, the principal redesigned the school to be more inclusive of students with disabilities, and co-teaching became the vehicle for ensuring that students were provided the general education curriculum. The principal built on the collaborative culture of the building and asked two teachers to begin co-teaching. By the next school year, teams of co-teachers had volunteered to provide co-teaching classes at every grade level. Teachers and the principals attended co-teaching in-service training and the principal studied the topic of co-teaching.

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Scheduling time for teachers to co-plan was a priority for the principal. The principal assigned teachers and support staff in a flexible way in order to meet the need of students and teaching staff. The regularly scheduled Special Education Meeting with the principal became an important time to problem solve difficulties in co-teaching. Finally, the principal monitored the co-teaching classes and even conducted clinical supervision of teachers teaching co-taught lessons. Final Conclusions In Chapter 2 of this study, I discussed the depth and breadth of the research on school leadership, but noted there were few research studies that provided an understanding of the role of the principal in the achievement of students with disabilities. Throughout my study, I sought to understand the knowledge and skills, beliefs and attitudes of the principal and to identify the practices and structures that were perceived to make a difference in the achievement of students with disabilities as measured by the schools attainment of AYP. In doing so, I noted that the attitudes and beliefs, skills and knowledge and practices and structures were all interrelated and the relationships among each of these elements and components are complex. In studying this principal, a story is developed outlining the role of the principal in inspiring teachers and support staff to feel confident in their ability to develop the educational practices needed to help students with disabilities and those at risk of identification achieve. In order for schools to improve student achievement for students with disabilities, students need to access the general education curriculum. Just the act of including students with disabilities in general education does not necessarily make the curriculum accessible. Based on the findings of this study, it is my contention that the principal took many steps to lead the school beyond inclusion to make the general education curriculum genuinely accessible to students with

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disabilities and those at risk of identification. These steps include meeting regularly with special education teachers to provide supervision and support for co-teaching, monitoring the progress of students with disabilities, offering instructional and behavior management strategies, and ensuring that there were sufficient resources both material and human to meet the needs of the students with disabilities. This principal is committed to providing safe, orderly learning environments and to creating a culture of authentic collaboration where teachers can learn from one another and develop the skills needed to help all students, including students with disabilities, to achieve at high levels. High expectations for student achievement are shored up by research-based best practices such as using data to monitor student achievement and offering suggestions on how to improve teaching for students with disabilities. While this principals leadership practices include parent outreach, data sharing, supervision of co-teaching, and maximizing resources for the instructional program, she has also established structures such as the co-teaching program and a viable Instructional Support Team. On a personal basis, this principal establishes and builds relationships and reflects on her own actions. It is this principals attitude and belief that it is the right of all children to learn as much of the general education curriculum as they are able. This belief fuels her moral purpose to develop the school to better meet the needs of students with disabilities. It is her ethics of caring that invites students and staff to attain their highest level of performance. The purpose of this study was to examine perceptions about an exemplary principals practices for the purpose of identifying those elements of practice that contribute to achievement as measured by attainment of AYP for students with disabilities. The principal in this case study stepped beyond understanding special education to implement a special education program that

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made a difference in academic achievement for students with disabilities. The case study has uncovered the practices, beliefs and attitudes that are perceived to make a difference in student achievement for students with disabilities.

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Appendix The following unpublished interview and question protocols are based on the work of Jacobson, S.L., Brooks, S., Giles, C., Johnson, L, and Ylimaki, R. developed in 2003 for the School Leadership in the Midst of Challenging Local Conditions and External Accountability Research Project. Study Instruments: Lists of Interview and Focus Group Questions Research Questions for the Administrator of Special Education I will use a semi-structured questioning format for this interview, since I may need to ask additional clarifying questions. I expect the interview to take no longer than one hour. The Administrator of Special Education will be asked to sign an informed consent form prior to beginning the interview and I will request permission to tape-record the interview. The questions are as follows: 1. How long have you worked in this district? 2. What is the title of your current position and how long have you held it? 3. Can you help me with current district demographics? a. How many Students with Disabilities (SWDs) are there in the district? b. How many general education students are there in the district? c. How many SWDs are at Empire Elementary School? d. How many general education students at Empire Elementary School? 4. Tell me about the history of special education in your district. 5. Please describe the philosophy of special education in your district. 6. Please describe the special education programs at the elementary schools in your district.

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7. How are SWDs assigned to elementary schools in your district? 8. Describe the role of an ideal principal as it relates to special education leadership 9. Is there anything you would like to tell me about special education in your district? Research Questions for the First Principal Interview a. Could you give a synopsis of your professional life history? b. What role, if any, has your training and professional development played in your leadership of special education? c. In your opinion, are there any specific leadership strategies and skills that have helped you improve outcomes for students with disabilities in your school? d. Describe some key factors policies, procedures, actions, and practices that you have employed to bring about academic achievement for your students with disabilities. e. Describe your values, beliefs, and vision for a perfect special education program. Please give me examples of how your values, beliefs, and vision have impacted your leadership of special education. f. In terms of providing services and supports to students with disabilities, how has the school changed over the last three to five years? g. Have you encountered resistance to providing expanded services to students with disabilities? How have you handled this resistance? h. Is there anything else you would like to tell me about special education at your school? Questions for the Second Prinicipal Interview The second interview with the prinicipal sought to clairfy any questions that may have arisen as a result of interviews, observations and review of documents. It also offer the principal an opportunity to respond to issues that surfaced as a result of the interviews.

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Question for the Teacher Interviews a. How many years have you been teaching? b. How many years have you taught at this school? c. What is challenging about the students with disabilities at this school? d. How did you learn what you needed to know to teach students with disabilities? e. How do the students with disabilities impact your schools accountability measures? f. How does your principal contribute to the success of students with disabilities? g. Can you relate a story about how your principal impacted schooling for students with disabilities? h. Is there anything else you want to say about special education at this school?

Questions for the Support Staff Interview a. In general terms, please describe your work in this school? b. How long have you worked here? c. In what ways does your principal contribute to the success of students with disabilities? d. Can you relate a story where your principal impacted schooling for students with disabilities? e. Is there anything else you want to tell me about special education at this school?

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Questions for Parent Focus Groups a. Please describe your involvement in the schooling of your child(ren) at this school? b. What do you think are the greatest strengths of this school? c. If you were principal of this school, what would you change to improve schooling for all students? d. What, if anything, would you change for students with disabilities? e. Can you relate a story where your principal impacted schooling for students with disabilities? f. Is there anything else you want to say about special education at this school?

Questions for Teachers of Students with Disabilities Focus Group a. Tell me about your school. b. Please tell me a little about your current teaching position and the length of time you taught at this school. c. What is it like to teach students with disabilities in this school? d. In what ways does your principal impact your teaching of students with disabilities in this school? e. What do you think are her/his beliefs about special education? f. Can you give me an example of your principals leadership around the topic of special education or students with disabilities?

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Questions for Student Focus Groups a. How long have you attended this school? b. Tell me about your school. c. Tell me about your principal. How does he/she influence your life in school? d. When, and how often, do you come into contact with him/her? e. It is the first day of school for a student with a disability who has come to your school, what would you tell them about being a student here? f. If you were principal, what would you change about your school? g. Is there anything else you want to say about special education at this school?

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