Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor's Name

Linda Blanton

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Diana Valle Riestra

Third Advisor's Name

Delia C. Garcia

Fourth Advisor's Name

Elizabeth Cramer

Date of Defense

3-28-2012

Abstract

Research highlights teacher attrition as one of the biggest challenges facing public schools and their attempts to provide a quality teacher for every student (Ingersoll & Smith, 2003). The teacher shortage is particularly daunting in special education where teachers are over twice as likely to leave the field. The first few years of teaching are the most critical in determining whether or not a beginning teacher will stay in the teaching profession (Whitaker, 2000).

A mixed-methods sequential explanatory design was utilized to examine research questions focused on the components of induction support that early career teachers received at their school site, including what they considered most valuable to their long-term retention in the classroom and their development as a quality teacher. Eighty seven early career special education teachers were surveyed during the first phase of the study and six participants were interviewed during the second phase. .

Data analysis of the Likert-scale survey used in the study revealed that the majority of the respondents received at least 21 of the 25 listed induction components. Moreover, early career special education teachers indicated that they valued all 25 induction components. In addition, findings revealed that over two thirds of the respondents indicated a desire to remain a special education teacher. Overall, early career special education teachers felt confident in their abilities to teach students with disabilities; however, nearly half of the respondents did not feel satisfied with the induction they received. Independent t-tests showed a statistically significant difference between teachers who indicated a desire to remain in special education and those that did not on the level of satisfaction with their induction experience.

The six interviews provided elaboration and clarification of the survey responses. The participants expressed their passion for the art of teaching, their dedication to students with disabilities, and their frustration with being a beginning teacher. Furthermore, it was reported that the overall school culture was not very supportive. Participants offered relevant ideas for additional or alternate induction components that would be more effective.

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