Special educators: Self-perceptions of special educators as measured by the Leadership Practices Inventory

Kathleen Ann Vettorello

Abstract

Within inclusion models special educators are assuming leadership roles and responsibilities. Special educators must develop an awareness of the leadership demands and practices being thrust upon them. Teacher leadership opportunities have grown within the reform and restructuring initiatives. Service delivery models that rely on collaborative teaming lend themselves to transformational or visionary leadership models that are congruent with our present school culture. This study investigated the perceptions of leadership as measured by the Leadership Practices Inventory-Individual Contributor model (Kouzes & Posner, 1993). The study was conducted across seven school districts in southwestern Ontario, Canada and involved (N = 184) subjects. The major purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between the criterion variable of perceptions of leadership practices and fifteen independent variables including inclusion, partnerships (teaming) and exceptionality. Three basis research focuses were investigated. They were (a) to determine if the perceptions of leadership as measured on five factor scales of the criterion variable were related to the independent variables, (b) to determine if the five factors vary from each other in their relationship to the independent variables and (c) if each of the five factors differ based on the selected variables of gender, support staff, caseload, partnerships, inclusion, and exceptionality. The total sample for the study consisted of special educators assigned to teaching positions in elementary schools within the region of southwestern Ontario. The total number of surveys distributed was 340. The number of special education teachers participating was 184 for a response rate of 54%. The findings were that special educators perceive themselves as demonstrating the leadership practices measured within the High and Moderate percentile range and there was very little variance among the five scores. Other findings concluded that there were some differences among the leadership practices reported for the variables partnerships and exceptionality. Implications and recommendations are presented.