Special education teacher attrition; special education teacher retention; organizational factors


The loss of special education teachers is a problem for all school districts. The effects of special education teacher attrition are felt in the classrooms and by all school district personnel. The impact on student achievement can be profound, especially if the teacher leaves in the middle of a school year. This study examines the organizational factors that influenced the attrition of special education teachers in one Central Florida school district. Participation in the anonymous survey was voluntary. Invitations to participate were sent directly to 385 special education instructional personnel and distributed to all district personnel using an e-mail forum. After removing participants who did not meet the inclusion criteria, 250 completed surveys were included in the analysis. In addition to quantitative items, the survey also included open–ended items at the end of the survey. While special education instructional personnel were the focus of the study, data from general education instructional personnel were also collected for comparison. The findings indicated that the major organizational causes of attrition among exceptional education teachers were in the areas of the human resources, political and structural frames. Human resource factors included the emotional, physical, and mental toll of daily classroom responsibilities and the perceived lack of district administration support. The main structural frame factor was the lack of compensation for the extra duties that special education teachers must perform. The main political factor was the lack of time needed by the special education staff to complete assigned duties during an average school day. In addition, the symbolic frame factors suggested a lack of perceived support from the general education staff; however, respondents did not indicate that this was major factor affecting in the attrition of special education teachers in this district. The school district has implemented strategies to support teachers to meet State certification requirements, Federal mandates of being highly qualified, and with monthly district level support visits. However, based on these data, the school district needs to recognize organizational factors affecting attrition. The district should pinpoint and alleviate the daily factors that cause undue stress on the special education staff. It should also reallocate resources and personnel to provide more frequent district and school level administrative support. Additional monetary or non-monetary compensation for the extra duties or reducing the workload on the special education teachers may also reduce attrition.


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Graduation Date





Boote, David


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education and Human Performance








Release Date

August 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education and Human Performance; Education and Human Performance -- Dissertations, Academic

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