Lead IDEA Center

The Lead IDEA Center helps early childhood and PreK-12 leaders effectively implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and improve systems serving children with disabilities and their families.

Teachers in discussion

High-quality learning environments for all children 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 childrens’ learning experiences.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), the Lead IDEA Center provides knowledge and professional learning services that help leaders fully realize how IDEA presents an opportunity to enhance services and improve outcomes for children with disabilities. 

The Center provides technical assistance, resources, and training to support early childhood and PreK–12 leaders in creating educational opportunities tailored to the individual needs of children eligible for early intervention and special education services, prioritizing equitable learning environments and ensuring adherence to both the letter and spirit of the Act. 

Lead IDEA works with state and local leaders to build the capacity, and maximize the potential, of leaders to positively enhance outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth who benefit from support and services provided under IDEA. 

What We Do

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The Center collaborates and connects with state and local education leaders to do the following:

  1. Develop an aligned, comprehensive framework of IDEA Leadership Competencies, along with tools and resources, to guide preparation and development of early childhood and PreK-12 leaders. 
  2. Design innovative, practice-based professional learning using the IDEA Leadership Competencies as a foundation and model for leadership development, disseminated through our website, social media, and direct technical assistance. 
  3. Provide technical assistance that supports state and local systems to develop the knowledge, skills, and competencies of early childhood and PreK-12 leaders for implementing IDEA. 
  4. Facilitate use of materials and learning opportunities that foster collaboration between general and special education leaders, as well as 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). Co-principal investigators include AIR’s David Bateman and Lynn Holdheide, as well as UConn’s Mary Beth Bruder. Abigail Foley serves as the project director. 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.