Special Education Teacher Shortage: Reducing Attrition and Increasing Retention of Special Education Teachers



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Background: The special education teachers’ retention is a crucial concern as shortages are noted in states across the nation. This mixed-method study determines the causes of the increasing attrition rates in special education by special education teachers and possible intervention practices, deriving perspectives from special education teachers and campus administrators. Purpose: This study examined the association between retention and attrition in the special education sector today. The research examined the high special education teacher’s attrition and sought to establish the extent specific factors can enhance their retention rates. The research examined special education teachers' working conditions to maintain their current positions and the practical measures to improve the Working conditions of special education teachers and increase the level of support from campus administrators, ultimately leading to reduced attrition in the special education sector. Methodology: Data was collected from campus administrators in Houston district and special education teachers teaching in schools within. The research utilized surveys in collecting data. A convenience sample of teachers and campus administrators at the target school district was surveyed to determine the next steps in moving forward to support teachers, reduce future attrition rates, and improve retention levels. The survey respondents answered on a Likert scale. Descriptive statistics by item were used to demonstrate outcomes for both teachers and administrators. Comparisons were made by teachers' roles. The survey was completed by 50 participants. Results: This study compared and contrasted the causes of and intervention practices to reduce attrition and increase retention rates as noted by special education teachers and campus administrators. From the results gathered from the two sub-groups. It was established that special education teachers and campus administrators share perspectives of the causes of high attrition rates among special education teachers and intervention practices to reduce attrition. Conclusion: It was concluded that high caseload, paperwork, poor level of support, and stress were primary to increasing attrition rates by special education teachers. Thematic analysis from the in-depth survey revealed the following themes for improvement: Training, Preparation Plans, Incentives, Mentorship, and Administrative support. In addition, addressing the special education teachers’ needs motivated them to continue teaching. It was noted that stress management (mental health) programs, increased incentives, increased support, and redesigning of teacher preparation programs would increase retention. Recommendations to reduce attrition rates are provided alongside implications for future research.



Special education teachers, Campus administrators, Attrition, Retention