Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




James H. Stronge


As manager and instructional leader of the school, the principal is responsible for the well-being of all programs, including the provision of general and special education services for children and youth with disabilities. However, the intricacies of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, P.L. 101-476, coupled with the complexity of the building administrator's role in contemporary educational settings, result in a need to assist principals in keeping abreast of key information regarding special education. A core set of special education competencies, based on clearly defined areas and identified by the principal and other key stakeholders responsible for preservice and inservice training is needed.;The present study was conducted to investigate core special education competencies needed by public school principals in Virginia for the effective administration of special education programs in their buildings. The study was also designed to determine how elementary, middle/junior high, high school building administrators, special education administrators, and university professors in Virginia differ in their perceptions of the importance of these competencies. The final purpose of the study was to determine the degree to which building administrators perceive their level of knowledge relative to the core special education competencies identified.;The study involved responses from surveys received from 308 principals, special education administrators, and university professors (i.e., 74% of the 414 randomly sampled individuals from these groups). In response to the research question regarding which core special education competencies are needed by principals, a set of seven major competencies, accompanied by 24 sub-competency statements were generated. Five of the seven major competencies surveyed were deemed very important for building administrators by the groups surveyed. The remaining two competencies were deemed somewhat important by the groups. No statistical differences were found to exist between building administrators regarding either their perceived level of importance or their level of knowledge relative to the seven major competencies. The principals as a group considered their level of knowledge relative to the competencies to be moderately low. Recommendations are made for future research.



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