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5 School Leadership Roles for Education Specialists in Learning and Behavior Disorders

Education specialists in Learning and Behavior Disorders (LBD) are well positioned for leadership roles within schools and districts. An education specialist degree in LBD imparts the skills necessary for education specialists to help students with disabilities and exceptionalities succeed. It also prepares educators to earn Rank I teaching certification in Kentucky.

LBD leaders are essential when the number of students with disabilities — from learning disorders to emotional and behavioral disorders — is increasing. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students between 3 and 21 years old who received special education services increased from 6.5 million between 2009 and 2010 to 7.3 million between 2019 and 2020. The majority of those students qualify under the specific learning disability (SLD) category, meaning they have a genetic and/or neurobiological alteration to brain functioning that affects at least one cognitive process related to learning.

Education specialists focused on learning and behavior disorders can serve as experts in this field, shaping school or district policy and acting as mentors to other educators. Here are a few leadership roles these professionals might step into.

Expert in Inclusion Strategies for Placement in General Education Classes

As more students receive instruction as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), those who receive special education services spend the bulk of their time in general education classrooms. According to NCES data, 65% of special education students in 2019 spent the majority of their school days in general classes, up from 59% a decade earlier.

This makes education specialists in LBD especially critical as experts who determine strategies for integrating those students into general classrooms. Including students with exceptionalities in the general classroom should take into account both the students’ individualized education programs (IEPs) and the needs of the rest of the class.

Mentor for New LBD Teachers

Resilient Educator offers practical tips for teachers who need to manage classrooms that include students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Although special education is no easy feat, there are general strategies for teaching students with emotional and behavioral disorders that teachers can gain through advanced education programs and training. New LBD teachers especially will need support and advice from more experienced peers who have expertise in teaching students with intense needs — mentorship roles that education specialists in LBD are primed to fill.

Curriculum and Teaching Practice Specialist for LBD Education

Curriculum specialists are teacher leaders with expertise in a given area of instruction, whether special education or gifted and talented students. Education specialists in LBD are well positioned to step into this guiding role for a school’s LBD educational program, given that they have training in the latest procedures and methods for serving students with exceptionalities.

Students in Northern Kentucky University’s Education Specialist in Teaching and Leading – Learning & Behavior Disorders online program will complete coursework in legislation and instructional practices relating to the education of students with exceptionalities. This training allows teachers to then develop curricula that comply with mandates and consider the latest research and best practices related to LBD education.

District-Level Content Expert

Similarly, education specialists in LBD can assume an advisory and content-development role at a district level. Experts in this role set policies and practices that shape an entire district’s special education services; develop and improve curricula, and assess its effectiveness across multiple schools. A district-level content expert usually fulfills a supervisory role and focuses on improving students’ and educators’ learning.

School Administrator

As more students who receive special education services spend more time in general education classrooms, they’re no longer siloed. This makes school administrators with expertise in LBD particularly valuable as leaders.

Recent research has explored how school administrators can set up intervention specialists for success. In a 2020 study published in the journal Beyond Behavior, researchers note that administrators can impact working conditions, which “shape special educators’ opportunities to learn and opportunities to enact effective practices.”

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University’s Education Specialist in Teaching and Leading – Learning & Behavior Disorders online program.


Learning Disabilities Association of America: New to LD

National Center for Education Statistics: Students with Disabilities

National Science Teaching Association: Behavioral Disorders

Resilient Educator: 5 Tips for Handling EBD Kids (Emotional Behavior Disorder) in an Inclusive Classroom

Sage Journals: Beyond Behavior: Administrators’ Roles: Providing Special Educators with Opportunities to Learn and Enact Effective Reading Practices for Students with EBD

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