Retention of Special Education Teachers Term Paper

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¶ … Special Education Teachers Analysis

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Retention of Special Education Teachers Analysis

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While many areas in education are experiencing teacher shortages (McKnab, 1995; Merrow, 1999), historically, the retention of special education teachers in particular is a critical concern in many schools across the nation. The increasingly rapid pace of growth in the student population in special education will further exacerbate current teacher shortages (Sindelar & Rosenberg, 2005; Amos, 2004). As early as the 1980s, research has demonstrated that retention is integral to the problem (Otto and Arnold, 2005). Increased recruitment has the potential to be part of the solution, but more is needed. Even prior to the developing national teacher shortage, educators were voicing concerns about higher burnout and/or teacher attrition rates in special education as compared to general education (National Association of State Directors of Special Education, 1990). The Texas Teacher Demand Study (2003) indicates that 2,500 elementary special education teachers and 2500 high school special education teachers will be needed in the upcoming school year. Some researchers anticipate that the national teacher shortage may only exacerbate this growing need for special educators (Olivarez & Arnold 2006). A shortage of special education teachers and the retention of those already holding positions as special educations is a problematic situation a study of personal and demographic characteristics of retained teachers of special education teachers conducted in 2006 by Olivarez and Arnold indicated that additional research is needed to show the significance of the various elements that contribute in teacher retention.

Term Paper on Retention of Special Education Teachers Assignment

McKnab (1995), for example, estimated the annual attrition rate for special education teachers as between 9% and 10%, as compared to 6% among educators in other areas. As noted above, Billingsley (2004) also determined that within the first 3 years of teaching, 29% of beginning teachers are projected to leave the profession; by the end of the 5th year 395 leave the teaching field. Additionally, Billingsley (2004), projected that in the year 2010, there will be a need for 611,550 special education teachers in the U.S. 13.2% of special education teachers leave their positions, 6% leave the field altogether, and 7.2% transfer to general education positions.

Brownell et al. (2002), stated that "shortages in all fields are likely to worsen as the teaching workforce ages and as statewide initiatives (such as reductions in class size) fuel increased demand" (p. 2). The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) Act also purportedly imposes the mandatory obligation of improving quality education but does add to the problem of qualified teachers. According to Amos, 2005, with the demands of:highly qualified teachers" in the No Child Left Behind mandates and its alignment with IDEA 2004, mentoring and retaining these special educators will be necessary but also beneficial for special educators and their students" (p. 27). Additionally, standard-based reforms in which teacher competence is linked to student performance on high-stakes assessments causes the quality of the teaching workforce to come under scrutiny (NCLB, 2001; IDEA, 2004).

The proposed qualitative research study seeks to identify, describe, and understand some of the barriers to retention of special education teachers and provide suggestions to change unsuccessful approaches to successful practices. Chapter one presents an explanation of the background, problem statement, and purpose statement for this study that will examine the relationship between resources/support systems and retention. To conduct the review, computer searches of ERIC, EBSCOhost, Questia, Psychological Abstracts, and Dissertation Abstracts International were completed. References contained in articles, reports, book chapters, and dissertations provided additional sources. Only empirical research findings related to teacher retention, attrition, transfer, or turnover since 1980 were included in the review. No teacher retention or attrition studies in special education were found prior to 1980 and general education findings prior to 1980 have been reviewed by Chapman (1983), Grissmer and Kirby (1987), and Sweeney (1987). Studies excluded psychologists and addressed the retention/attrition of special education support personnel.

Descriptions of the 13 special education attrition/retention studies appear in Table 1. This table summarizes the (a) purpose(s) of the study, (b) definition of attrition/retention used, - methodological approach used, (d) sample, and (e) results. Table 1 also demonstrates that researchers have used several major approaches to examine factors related to special education teacher attrition and retention. Most of the information about the reasons special educators left teaching (Billingsley & Cross, 1991b; Billingsley, Bodkins, & Hendricks, in press; Dangel, Bunch, & Coopman, 1987; Lawrenson & McKinnon, 1982; McKnab, 1983; Platt & Olson, 1990; Seery, 1990) or factors associated with retention/attrition (Metzke, 1988; Seery, 1990). Singer (1993) used state longitudinal databases to describe the career paths of special educators and the characteristics of teachers who stay, leave, and return over extended periods. Therefore, most of the research is concerned with those who actually left special education teaching. Factors that influence intent to leave special education teaching were investigated in only two studies (Billingsley & Cross, 1992; George, George, & Grosenick, 1992). Several researchers have sought secondary opinions about why special educators leave the field (Mani, 1989: McKnab, 1983; Lauritzen, 1986). The groups surveyed included current administrators (Mani, 1989; McKnab, 1983), special educators (Lauritzen, 1986; Mani, 1989), and general educators (Mani, 1989). In a recent study by Otto and Arnold (2005), the results indicated special education teachers considered administrative support to be an incentive for retention, when they perceived such support to be present. Conversely, special education teachers perceived absence of administrative support as a cause for leaving the profession. Additionally teachers reported that when administrators placed little value on special education students, teachers, then, received little administrative attention to their needs or ideas.

The proposed research will employ a modified Delphi study to explore and evaluate documented support system practices and methods of retention. The study discerns which patterns and practices teachers recommend as most successful in retaining special education teachers. Research methods will include teacher and personnel department interviews, public personnel records / statistics, and information from district websites. The study should result in information useful to school district administrators and board members when analyzing resources and support systems necessary for recruitment and retention of special education teachers.

Research affirms the importance of supporting the first year teacher, which becomes an effective tool in retention. A recent study by (Nougaret & et. al., 2005); concluded that teacher certification (traditional vs. non-traditional) could have some bearing on the implications in this study. The following conclusions were among those presented by the authors:

First-year teachers who participated in a traditional education program greatly outperformed first-year teachers with emergency provisional licensure on observational ratings of planning and preparation, classroom environment, and instruction.

Teachers in both groups rated themselves similarly, suggesting that nontraditionally licensed teachers were unaware of their relative deficiencies.

First-year special education teachers holding emergency temporary licensure may be at a great disadvantage.

Statement of the Problem

The general problem is that teacher shortages exist in all areas of education across the country, but the special education teacher shortage is of special concern in California (California Special Education Management Information System [CASEMIS], June 1999-2003). The numbers of students requiring special education services is growing, while the numbers of qualified teachers is declining, creating a serious shortage of special education teacher candidates available to the public schools (Rosenberg & Sindelar, 2005; Amos, 2004, U.S. Department of Education, 2002). The specific problem is that special education teachers will leave the field within a few years of beginning to teach, thus exacerbating the situation for school leaders, parents, and all others that are trying to provide a quality education for students with special education needs. Clearly, there remains a profound need to identify those negative factors that contribute to special education teachers leaving the profession and to determine effective methods of overcoming them.

Furthermore, hidden within the growing national teacher shortage in all certification areas, the ongoing burnout of special education teachers has become an important liability in the provision of appropriate educational services to students with disabilities. In this regard, Arnold and Mitchell (2004) report that over the past decade, the analysis of special education teachers has contributed to a growing body of research by examining factors that are directly related to decisions of special educators to remain or leave the field and describe the exact nature of special education teacher attrition. The authors cite the results of a national survey of over 1,000 special educators conducted by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) that concluded: "Poor teacher working conditions contribute to the high rate of special educators leaving the field, teacher burnout, and substandard quality of education for students for special needs" (quoted in Arnold & Mitchell, 2004 at p. 214).

Clearly, then, administrators and other school leaders need insights into the factors that compel special education teachers to leave a few years after beginning to teach thus exacerbating the teacher shortage situation for school leaders, parents, and all others who are trying to provide a quality education for students with special education needs. A study that explores special education teacher perceptions and recommendations regarding factors that influence… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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