Lead IDEA Center

The Lead IDEA Center helps school building and early intervention administrators create inclusive learning environments and improve outcomes for students who receive support and services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Teachers in discussion

High-quality, inclusive learning environments for all students with disabilities is a core goal within the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). School and early intervention administrators are crucial leaders in achieving this goal through everyday actions that shape the quality of students’ learning experiences. 

The Lead IDEA Center helps school and early intervention administrators foster and reinforce the leadership competencies necessary for achieving the promise of IDEA. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), the Center builds aligned Leadership Learning Systems, from preservice to in-service, that can support states and districts in creating a pipeline of administrators trained to better meet the needs of young people with disabilities, as well as integrate their families and support systems into the larger educational ecosystem.

What We Do

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The Center collaborates and connects with state, district, and early intervention leaders to:

  1. Create a comprehensive framework of IDEA professional leadership competencies, and aligned tools and resources, to guide preparation and development of general education, special education, early childhood, and early intervention leaders.
  2. Design innovative, practice-based Leadership Learning Systems within and across states using the IDEA leadership competencies as a foundation and model.
  3. Align certification processes, program approval standards, and professional learning systems as mechanisms to advance IDEA leadership competencies through supportive policies, programs, and partnerships.
  4. Facilitate use of materials and learning opportunities that foster collaboration between general and special education leaders to advance collegiality, collective roles and responsibilities, and partnership between students with disabilities and their families.

Our Partners

The Lead IDEA Center is a five-year technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) and is part of OSEP’s Personnel Development Program. AIR manages Lead IDEA in partnership with the University of Connecticut (UConn), True North Evaluation, University of Illinois Chicago’s (UIC’s) Center for Urban Education Leadership (CUEL), Boston University (BU), and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), as well as a group of distinguished center advisors, to support the center’s work. Together the team brings extensive expertise in evidence-based practices, special education law and policy, and engagement with educators, families, and leaders to strengthen individual and organizational capacities to support leadership development and success for administrators supporting students with disabilities.