Date of Award

Spring 2-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Second Advisor

Dr. Cherita Graber

Third Advisor

Dr. Terry Reid

Abstract

In this study, the factors that influence special education teachers to remain in their profession for at least five years were identified and analyzed. The study involved a mixed-methods design including a survey and interviews with experienced special educators. The survey items and their categorizations as relational support or organizational factors were based upon Billingsley’s (2004) landmark research. The population consisted of special educators who remained in their current teaching positions for at least five years. The sample group for the survey included 35 veteran special educators from eight school districts in Missouri, and the stratified interview sample of five educators was gleaned from the survey participants. Survey and interview data were collected and analyzed. Quantitative findings indicated no significant difference existed at a 5% probability level between the response data modes for relational support factors and the response data modes for organizational factors. The four most influential retention factors included enjoyment gained from job, ability to make a difference in the lives of students, support of district-level special education administrators, and support of fellow special education teachers. Four themes emerged from the interview data gathered: making a difference was of utmost influence, relational support factors were more influential than organizational factors, and the actions of both building-level and special education administrators promoted an increase in special education teacher retention. The data collected in this study may assist administrators as they address influential teacher retention factors in order to increase the retention of experienced and qualified special education teachers.

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