Factors that influence the career decisions of special education teachers in Iowa: an investigation of teachers' perceptions toward retention

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Muturia, Faith
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Gary Phye
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Curriculum and Instruction

It is important to understand the factors that influence the career decisions of Iowa's special education professionals in order to address persistent shortages of special educators. This study investigated the perceptions of teachers toward teacher retention. Two hundred & seventy three current and former special education teachers in Iowa participated in the study. The Special Education Teacher Retention Survey was used to collect data. Teachers were asked to rate the importance and frequency of five retention factors. The educators' motivations for becoming special education professionals were also assessed, alongside their job satisfaction and burnout levels. Reasons for leaving the field were obtained from former special education teachers.;Teachers perceived that retention factors were important, with mean importance scores ranging from above average to high. Teachers believed that retention factors were occurring somewhat frequently, with mean frequency scores ranging from low to high. Teachers' ratings of importance of retention factors were significantly higher than ratings of frequency factors, indicating that a disparity existed between the retention factors teachers value and the actualization of those factors.;Former special education teachers (Transfers) generally perceived that retention factors were more important to them than current special education teachers (Stayers). Conversely, retention factors were believed to be occurring more frequently for current special education teachers than for Transfers. Thus former special education teachers valued retention factors but perceived that these factors were not occurring as frequently as desired. This finding was supported by the reasons that the Transfer teachers gave for transferring to general education especially with regard to the factor of school support.;As a whole the teachers in this sample were committed to teaching special education, they were motivated to become special educators due to intrinsic reasons, majority of them indicated high overall job satisfaction, and majority were certified to teach special education. However, Stayers and Transfers varied in some of their demographic characteristics, with Stayers being older, having more teaching experience, and more of the Stayers being fully endorsed to teach special education compared to Transfer teachers. Implications of these findings and recommendations for policies related to special education teachers are discussed.

Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2007