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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Mary Lynn Boscardin

Subject Categories

Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership | Elementary Education | Special Education Administration


The purpose of this study was to explore and analyze general education and special education administrators’ perceptions of leadership practices that support inclusivity of students with disabilities in local public school districts. This study compared inclusive leadership priorities between special education administration and elementary principals across a total of 11 districts. Utilizing Q-sort methodology, special education administrators and principals sorted 40 inclusive leadership statements. The research questions that guided this study were: 1) How are inclusive leadership practice statements ranked similarly and differently among participants? 2) How do participants describe rankings for most and least important inclusive leadership practice statements? 3) How are inclusive leadership practice statements ranked in relationship to participants roles? An analysis resulted in two factor groups who sorted their cards similarly. The responses from Factor A members suggest developing interpersonal relationships and trust are how they lead their schools and districts. The overall responses from Factor B members suggest that they strongly believe in a mission and vision, collaboratively developed, to support all students’ success. A framework based on the themes and categories emerged from the literature for building stronger, inclusive learning environments that support students with disabilities. This framework supports the research that suggests a component of each of the five themes; (a) inclusive collaboration; (b) shared vision, moral purpose and core values; (c) shared decision making, distributed leadership and teacher leadership; (d) meaningful professional development and; (e) data driven decision making and are needed to develop and sustain effective inclusive schools and districts. Within this study, the areas most important in administrator’s day to day work clearly fell into three areas of this model, indicating where existing strengths in the areas of (a) inclusive collaboration and (b) shared vision, moral purpose and core values and data driven decision making and may be contributing to inclusivity where the gaps in the importance of (c) shared decision making, distributed leadership and teacher leadership, and (d) meaningful professional development may be preventing it. As a result, an action model for effective, inclusive leadership suggests leadership is a dynamic process, where leaders incorporate all aspects of the model.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.