Examining the Ability of Novice Teachers to Support the Needs of Students with Disabilities, Based on the Principal Survey for Novice Teachers

Date

2021-05

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Abstract

Background: Previous research shows that when teachers attend education preparation programs with extensive coursework in pedagogical practices and preservice coaching, they are more effective in organizing classroom management and improving academic outcomes. Because of national mandates governing funding, national teacher shortages in critical areas, and a decades-long push for educational equity for students with disabilities, more districts are relying on alternative teacher certification programs to provide teachers for the growing number of classrooms without them. Novice teachers have expressed challenges in maintaining motivation throughout the school year when asked to manage atypical behaviors as well as the varying academic accommodations placed on them in the classroom when teaching students with disabilities (SWDs). While education continues to evolve and serve the needs of all students, novice teachers must receive adequate training and support to meet the needs of SWDs when in the general education setting. Purpose: This study examined how education preparation programs, specifically, alternative or traditional programs in Texas, affect novice teachers’ ability to support the needs of special education students in the areas of classroom management and special education procedures. The following two research questions are posed: How are novice teachers in Texas rated by principals with respect to classroom management and supporting SWDs, and what differences exist between novice teachers from traditional and alternative certification programs in their reported capacity in classroom management and adhere to the procedures to support needs of SWDs? Methods: An analysis was conducted of archival data from the 2018–2019 Principal Survey Questions—Teacher Preparation Effectiveness Survey: First-Year Teachers in the domains of Classroom Management and Students with Disabilities. Novice teachers are those teachers who have never taught in the classroom. These novice teachers represent Grades K–12 in the general education setting, totaling 12,417, or 8.2% of all teachers in Texas. The study's teachers come from 124 certification programs included in the principal survey data, 37 of them being alternative programs. The first research question was answered using descriptive statistics across the sample of novice teachers, including type of certification, for the individual questions and domains of interest. The second research question was answered using an independent samples t test to examine differences in principal ratings of teachers certified by alternative programs and teachers certified by traditional ones. Results. Results show that a majority of novice teachers in Texas (over 80% across most survey items studied) are sufficiently prepared to manage the learning environment and adhere to special education policies. Although descriptive statistics indicated that both novice teachers from traditional certification programs (M range, 2.28–2.38) and alternative programs (M range, 2.17–2.26) were rated on a scale of 0–3 as "Sufficiently Prepared" to "Well Prepared," traditionally certified teachers were rated significantly higher (ES = .18 in both domains). Discussion. Findings from this study are congruent with previous research that novices from traditional programs slightly outperform their peers. Overall, novice teachers appear well situated to support students with disabilities via positive classroom management. Since ratings occur at the completion of the first year of teaching, it would be beneficial to identify key areas of need for these teachers as they begin the year and current practices for supporting their improvement in teaching over the year.

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Keywords

Classroom Management, Learning Environment, Students with Disabilites, Novice Teacher

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