Factors influencing urban special education teachers' commitment, job satisfaction, and career plans
Hendricks, Mary Beth
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High teacher attrition rates coupled with critical personnel shortages in special education have augmented the need for research in teacher attrition/retention. Retaining quality personnel in special education teaching is vital to assuring that students with disabilities receive an appropriate education. The purpose of this study was to provide an in-depth exploration of factors influencing urban special education teachers' career plans. To gain a better understanding of urban special educators' commitment, job satisfaction, and career plans, qualitative research methods were employed throughout this study's data collection and analysis procedures. Based on the results of a screening instrument from another study, sixty special education teachers in the Memphis City Schools (MeS) were selected to participate in this study. These teachers were divided equally into three groups of special educators (i.e., stayers, leavers, undecideds) with specific career plans and attitudes (e.g., commitment, job satisfaction). Face-to-face interviews were conducted with each of the special educators using an interview guide. Cross-interview analyses were used to analyze the interviewees' responses to each of the questions on the interview guide. Patterns and themes that emerged from the data were identified and discussed. Specific teacher examples and verbatim quotes were also included to illustrate the study's findings. According to interviewees, various job-related factors (e.g., support, work assignment, student factors, work rewards) were most important to their commitment, job satisfaction, and plans to remain in and leave special education teaching in MCS. Support was more often mentioned as a reason for wanting to stay than any other factor. Reasons for wanting to leave special education teaching in MCS clustered around two major factors, work assignment and support. These findings suggest that special attention to job related factors may be particularly important to prevent attrition among these at-risk teachers. By listening to interviewees' recommendations for improving work conditions in MCS and including these teachers in the decision making process, school administrators may positively affect teachers' career plans and better retain their special education teaching force.
- Doctoral Dissertations