Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Special education--Iowa; School administrators--Iowa; School administrators; Special education; Iowa;


The past decade has recorded increased demands by parents and legislators for leadership accountability in special education. However, contemporary research on special education leadership accountability has been largely directed at instructional or support professional personnel. Literature on accountability concerns at supervisory, middle-management, and top management positions is noticeably sparse. This study centered on the collection and comparison of survey data concerning middle-management accountability attitudes and practices utilized in Iowa's fifteen area education agencies (AEAs). The major concern of this study was how middle-management/supervisory functions in special education were viewed and held accountable by both top management and middle-management/supervisory personnel.

Participants in the study were fourteen directors of special education (top management) and nineteen middle-management/supervisory personnel employed in Iowa's intermediate system of special education administration. The data were collected by two self-report mail questionnaires over a three-month period in 1978. The questionnaires were designed to: (a) collect demographic information on AEA special education middle-management/ supervisory personnel; (b) collect data on the accountability attitudes held by top management; (c) identify the evaluation practices utilized by top management to assess job performances of AEA middle-management/supervisory personnel; and (d) sample middle-management/supervisory attitudes concerning accountability and assessment practices used by their AEA top management superiors.

Responses were treated primarily by frequency counts, percentages, and descriptive statistics. The analysis and interpretation of data have been reported by narration, graphs, and a frequency polygon. Results of the study identified attitudinal differences between the two participant groups and the absence of any formal established accountability standards for Iowa AEA special education middle-management/. supervisory personnel. There was a consensus among participants that middle-management/supervisory personnel in special education should be accountable. There was a lack of agreement between participant groups on the most desirable evaluative methods. Significant differences of opinion between the groups were obtained on questionnaire items related to perceptions of middle-management/supervisory roles and functions and the involvement of parents or special interest groups in the evaluation of middle-management/ supervisory job performances.

Implications of the study support the contention that special education management responses to increased demands for accountability in Iowa AEAs are inadequate and related to: (a) unsettled issues of role identification and the delineation of functions; (b) creation of new positions at the middle-management/supervisory levels; (c) decentralization of the administrative hierarchy brought about by rapid expansions in special education; (d) the relatively autonomous operations of Iowa's fifteen individual AEAs; and (e) the absence of any uniform and viable management accountability measures. A final implication drawn from the study is that Iowa AEA top management and middle-management/ supervisory personnel recognize the emergence of management accountability in special education, are receptive to evaluation of management performances in agency operations, but appear to be a long distance from the implementation of any viable management accountability measures. Conclusions suggest a need for further research.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Special Education

First Advisor

Lee Courtnage


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Date Original


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