According to some research, special education instructors are more likely than general education teachers to experience high levels of occupational stress, contributing to burnout. Teachers get burnout due to their frequent encounters with children, particularly when those pupils display emotional and behavioral issues, lack motivation, or fall into many categories of special needs. Instructors who are ‘burned out’ may suffer one or more of the three components of burnout syndrome. Stress and tiredness from constant interaction with kids, parents, and coworkers may lead to burnout (emotional exhaustion). There is a loss in instructors’ perception of competence due to unfavorable attitudes and cynical behaviors toward pupils (depersonalization). Instructors’ performance and achievements are seen negatively due to this (reduced personal accomplishment).
Compared to educators of non-disabled kids, special educators of pupils with more severe impairments quit the profession at a greater rate. Despite annual changes in attrition levels in the United States, special education attrition rates have often been almost twice general education. According to attrition statistics in special education, shortages of special education instructors have grown in tandem with the number of special-needs kids in the United States. Attrition has become a major source of worry, especially among rookie teachers (Conley & You, 2016). Older special educators were assumed to be more likely to leave the field because they had become burned out, sick, or nearing retirement age. But recent data suggests that young special educators are leaving the field at greater rates after just three to five years in the field (Berry, 2012; Cancio et al., 2013; Clandinin et al., 2015; DeAngelis, Wall, & Che, 2013). Dupriez, Devlvaux, and Lothaire (2015), as well as Struyven and Vanthournout (2014), have shown that a high proportion of newly hired instructors leave the field after just a few months or years of experience.
Teacher retention is especially important in special education since hiring and maintaining instructors in this profession is more difficult than general education (Conley and You 2017; zoglu 2015), endangering the quality of instruction kids with disabilities get (Billingsley and Bettini 2019). Special education instructors devote extra one-on-one time to assisting pupils with disabilities. Additional attention, training, patience, and sacrifice are required for these students (Göktürk,., Tülübaş, T., & Bozolu, O.) (2020). Special education instructors may feel less personal success and efficacy since their pupils’ progress might be gradual and challenging (Brunsting et al. 2014; Scott 2019). They are often observed to be more worried and weary as a result of attempting to handle their pupils’ mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges (Brunsting et al. 2014; Küçüksüleymanoglu 2011). According to research, instructors who cannot handle or deal with these challenges often quit or entirely depart the area of special education (Scott 2019; Vittek 2015). As a result, research into techniques to assist trained instructors in the area of special education continues to be important (Göktürk, Tülübaş, T., & Bozolu, O., 2020).
A shortage of appropriately licensed special education teachers (SETs) jeopardizes the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s guarantee of an appropriate and personalized educational program for all children with disabilities (IDEA, 2004). Although the SET gap fell during the Great Recession until 2012 (Dewey et al., 2017), it has lately risen to 6.8%, leaving nearly 23,000 special education positions unfilled (Peyton et al., 2020). Location (Levin et al., 2015), handicap category (Katsiyannis et al., 2002), school environment (Mason-Williams et al., 2017), and school attributes seem to be related to employment vacancies (Mason-Williams et al., 2017). Mason-Williams et al., 2015. A shortage of qualified applicants in high-scarcity states is connected to poor compensation relative to other vocations and, as a result, low social prestige for special education instructors. We believe that elevating the status of special education teachers as a profession might help overcome low enrollments (Peyton et al., 2020).
The scarcity of special education teachers is disproportionately felt in high-poverty school districts. They have a larger percentage of untrained instructors and a higher turnover rate than wealthy districts. The key challenge today facing researchers is “how can we better train and support existing teachers, rather than how can we recruit more teachers” (Brunsting, Sreckovic, & Lane, 2011, p. 682). Unfortunately, rather than identifying strategies to assist and retain excellent SETs, school administrators often replace SET openings with unqualified teachers (Berry et al., 2011; Deutsch-Smith, 2012; Emery & Vandenberg, 2010; Tyler, 2012). The complexity of SETs’ jobs, a lack of school leadership support, demanding job obligations, and generally difficult working circumstances (Lipscomb-Williams, 2014) are factors in their choice to quit the sector. SETs, in particular, often experience a lack of school leadership support for their professional growth, stress management, burnout, and feelings of inadequacy (Andrews & Brown, 2015; Berry et al., 2011; Conley & You, 2017). (Boyd et al., 2011). As a result of these challenges, SETs have unsatisfactory working experiences (Andrews & Brown, 2015). Researchers have discovered a link between school leadership and SETs’ desire to continue in the field (Cancio, Albrecht, & Johns, 2013; Grant, 2012; & Tsang & Liu, 2016). A deeper look into what leadership techniques generate strong connections and professional and personal support for SETs is needed.
The features of the sources that may affect burnout and work satisfaction in teachers have been studied, and they may be divided into three categories. Workload and time constraints, a wide range of job-related duties, a lack of support from administrators or school leadership, low pay and limited advancement opportunities, and a lack of effective staff development are all examples of environmental and contextual factors.
The loss of early-career teachers has a significantly greater impact on special education (i.e., beginning teachers). This set of educators has been shown to leave the profession higher than experienced or general educators. Studies of attrition among new teachers revealed that low self-efficacy (due to inadequate preservice preparation) is strongly connected to high attrition rates. There are no modern, evidence-based teaching strategies for special education training in this research. Wong, Ruble, and McGrew (2017) looked at the relationship between teacher credentials and preparation levels and attrition rates using comparable datasets. The present research does not examine what special educators are doing to increase student and teacher enthusiasm and resilience (Baldwin, Omdal, & Pereles, 2015) Newton and his associates (Newton and colleagues, 2020).
According to a review of the current literature on special educator attrition, the most common influencing factors in teachers’ decisions to leave their profession are several. Burnout because of workload, a lack of support from colleagues and administration or teacher training, and poor teacher-student interactions. Researchers have claimed that special educators need ongoing teacher support, cooperation, and extensive professional development to stay employed (Glennie, Mason, & Edmunds, 2016; Lofgren & Karlsson, 2016; Tyler & Brunner, 2014). Several experts believe that social-emotional problems play a significant part in teachers’ decision to leave the profession (Mansfield, Beltman, & Price, 2014; Collie et al., 2012; Hong, 2012; Jo, 2014). On the other hand, other research stated that defects in the work environment are one of the factors that lead to educator turnover (Ingersoll, Merrill, et al., 2014; Lasseter, 2013; Tyler & Brunner, 2014; Uitto, Jokikokko, Estola, 2015). While research supports both arguments, it is obvious that teachers’ stressful work environments have a detrimental impact on their social-emotional health (DeAngelis, Wall, & Che, 2013; Gray & Taie, 1025; Heikonen et al., 2016). This corroborates the relationship between teachers’ working conditions and their mental health.
Bettini, E., Cumming, M. M., O’Brien, K. M., Brunsting, N. C., Ragunathan, M., Sutton, R., & Chopra, A. (2019) – Working circumstances have an essential impact on attrition and may be a crucial lever for lowering attrition and fostering a stable teaching workforce for EBD kids (Billingsley & Bettini, 2019). Teachers face demands (e.g., instructional obligations), as well as logistical (e.g., planning time) and social (e.g., paraprofessional assistance, administrative support) resources that help them fulfill those expectations (O’Brien et al., in press). In a previous study, working environments have repeatedly been shown to influence the desire to quit teaching and affective reactions to work, such as emotional tiredness (a component of burnout; Brunsting, Sreckovic, & Lane, 2014). On the other hand, existing research provides limited insight into which working conditions are most important for special educators serving students with EBD and teachers’ affective responses to influence whether or not they decide to leave or stay (Billingsley & Bettini, 2019). Closing the achievement gap, particularly among special needs students, necessitates recruiting and maintaining teachers who have received specialized training in special education and who, despite the challenges, are genuinely committed to the profession. According to current teacher attrition research, the most prevalent problems associated with attrition among special educators are burnout, a lack of support, insufficient teacher training, and poor teacher-student connections. Aside from these problems, research has shown that early-career teacher turnover is a new trend in the field of special education (Callahan, 2016; Clandinin et al., 2015).
In the study literature, job satisfaction has been identified as a significant indicator of teachers’ levels of commitment to their jobs (Cancio et al., 2013). Job satisfaction is the conceptual framework that acts as a lens through which this study is elucidated. Locke (1969) was the first to suggest this idea, which asserts that an individual’s perceptions influence a certain action or reaction (Collie et al., 2012; Erdem, Illgan, & Ucar, 2014). Lofgren and Karlsson (2016) found that job satisfaction is a major mediator in workplace factors, impacting teachers’ choices to resign or remain in the profession. This supports the findings of Conley and You (2016), who found that highly satisfied educators are more likely to remain in their professions. This emphasizes the need for education officials to examine special educators’ working circumstances to provide the groundwork for workplace change in the hopes of reducing teacher turnover. The concept of job satisfaction is useful in determining how teachers’ work performance, devotion, and motivation interact to influence their attitude toward their jobs and their desire to promote good student outcomes, which is significant to teacher retention and attrition. According to Collie et al. (2012), teachers with greater levels of perceived effectiveness and job satisfaction were more likely to encourage their students to achieve higher levels of achievement. This backs up research that shows teacher turnover and attrition negatively influence student achievement (Ronfeldt, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2013).
Job satisfaction is based on Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory. Due to its emotional, cognitive, and behavioral dimensions, social cognitive career theory. Bandura proposed that behavior is the product of people’s interactions with their surroundings via his social cognitive theory. As a result, it is reasonable to assume that the high workloads and stressors associated with accommodating a wide range of impairments in a single classroom impact educators’ decision to stay in the area of special education (Dukes et al., 2013). The social cognitive career theory described and predicted how a person’s academic interests and ambitions grow over time (Zhang et al., 2014). People’s vocational interests are impacted by their talents and reflect their self-efficacy. Unsatisfied special educators, according to research, are typically disappointed because they are unable to achieve the desired goal or because they have low self-efficacy (Aloe, Shisler, Norris, Nickerson, & Rinker, 2014; Andrews & Brown, 2015; Collie et al., 2012; Dicke et al., 2014). This backs up scholarly findings that self-efficacy protects instructors from burnout and increases their commitment to teaching (Aloe, Amo, & Shanahan, 2014; Chestnut & Burley, 2015).
Social cognitive career theory flow chart. Adapted from Zhang et al. (2014)
Job satisfaction connects with social cognitive theory and social cognitive career theory to explain how employees perceive their jobs positively or negatively based on interactions in their social (i.e., working) environment. These concepts served as frameworks for investigating a variety of aspects of professional growth, including academic and occupational performance, as well as persistence (Andrews & Brown, 2015). Educators, according to research, carry out their duties based on their emotions or moods (Lofgren & Karlsson, 2016). Consequently, special educators who are unsatisfied with their working conditions are thought to be less likely to continue in the field. The conceptual and theoretical frameworks utilized as the study’s basis supported the research questions and adopted the study approach. The research questions were utilized to understand better the experiences that influence special educators’ career choices.
Based on the social cognitive career theory proposed by Lent et al., researchers postulated that an individual’s job-related efficacy and outcome expectancies are formed by a combination of experiences (1994). (2014, Zhang et al.) Negative experiences with special-needs children (e.g., high workloads, severe impairments, and a lack of support) are considered to impact instructors’ outcome expectations, particularly if they are not fully prepared to satisfy these students’ learning demands. Negative encounters with special-needs children may lead to educator employment changes, but positive experiences may also affect career pathways. The positive experiences of some special educators have affected their decisions to continue in the teaching profession. Those who stay in the field, on the other hand, have developed coping techniques that have heightened their natural desire to help special-education students (Andrews & Brown, 2015; Zhang et al., 2014). According to the social cognitive career theory, unmet expectations and unsatisfying outcomes lead educators to change careers (Lim et al., 2016).
Knowledge of the nature of teacher attrition and what is required to increase teacher retention begins with a full understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the issue. The development of attrition intervention strategies necessitates assessing why educators choose or leave certain professions. Brown and Lent (2016) conducted a qualitative review of the literature on using social cognitive career theory (SCCT) to career development. They observed that applying this concept to educational settings as a means of better forecasting future career paths for instructors is highly beneficial. The SCCT’s value as a basis for teacher retention platforms is shown by its applicability to any persons. SCCT, which is based on Bandura’s social cognition theory, has been used by researchers to highlight the relevance of social networks and interactions in anticipating future decisions (Thompson, Dahling, Chin, & Melloy, 2017). Several studies on special educator attrition used social culture theory to understand the many social beliefs that keep teachers out of the classroom. They used social cognition theory to describe how teachers’ self-efficacy in controlling their classes is affected by work stress. According to the results, teachers who felt deficient in displaying excellent classroom management skills were annoyed, tired, and therefore less motivated. Similarly, Aloe, Amo, et al. (2014) utilized social cognitive theory to investigate how self-efficacy in classroom management affects a teacher’s burnout level. The findings of this quantitative study demonstrated that higher levels of self-efficacy protected teachers against burnout and enhanced their intrinsic motivation to teach even the most challenging students.
Wang et al. (2015) looked at social cognitive theory via the lens of self-efficacy, similar to Aloe, Amo, et al. (2014). Wang et al. found self-efficacy to be a substantial predictor of instructors’ motivation, similar to previous research (Aloe, Amo, et al., 2014; Dicke et al., 2014). According to these experts, motivation encourages instructors to encourage better levels of learning and accomplishment in their pupils. As a result, it’s acceptable to assume that instructors’ self-efficacy indirectly affects student learning. Teachers quit the profession when they believe they are no longer capable of reaching their pupils, according to the principles of social cognitive theory (HunterJohnson et al., 2014). Andrews and Brown (2015) used social cognition theory as a framework for describing the relationship between an individual’s ideal expectations and actual experiences in a quantitative investigation. They claimed that when teachers’ job experiences do not satisfy their preconceived expectations, they get frustrated, resulting in burnout. Andrews and Brown investigated social cognitive theory from the perspectives of environmental elements and teacher cognitions in this research (p. 127). Special education instructors’ surroundings, perceptions, and actions affected their job experiences. Andrews and Brown utilized Bandura’s social cognitive theory to support their claim that their performance and commitment suffer when teachers’ desired expectations are not realized. Many scholars have utilized SCCT (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) as a platform for theory building, extension, and study (Brown & Lent, 2016; Sheu & Bordon, 2017; Thompson et al., 2017). SCCT was employed to emphasize the process of career development rather than the result. The study focused on the elements that either aided or hindered people’s interest in a certain area. In terms of enticing people to a particular area of study or employment, Fouad and Santana (2017) used SCCT to build strategies to attract and retain more women and people of color in STEM programs and jobs. In terms of the social part of social cognitive theory, the researchers looked at the impact of different social circumstances on whether or not people would stay in certain fields of study or work.
Thompson et al. (2017) utilized SCCT to create a career management model (Brown & Lent, 2017) to analyze job loss and reemployment data. This model effectively recognizes the many sorts of adaptive career 38 behaviors that people engage in when they lose or regain a job. This approach was effective in the context of the present research. It was used to learn how existing educators in the public school system reacted to their difficult work conditions to stay committed to their jobs. This would surely influence programs and tactics for teacher retention. Sheu and Bordon’s (2017) work used SCCT as a foundation for addressing sampling and methodological concerns in worldwide research on this theory.
Two-Factor Theory is based on Herzberg’s (1966) two-factor theory, which states that work happiness is mostly impacted by two factors: cleanliness and motivation (see Figure 1). Working conditions, quality supervision, and compensation do not improve contentment on their own. Still, they might drive people to grow unhappy with their jobs and quit if they are insufficient or absent in the workplace. Employees will be motivated to perform at a greater level by elements such as accomplishment, interest, and acknowledgment, which will provide them with a high degree of work satisfaction. Factors Affecting Hygiene According to Herzberg’s research, discontent is largely caused by hygienic or external variables such as administration, colleague interactions, policies/rules, job environment, and remuneration (Herzberg, 2003). Hygiene variables are influenced by the conditional workings around the workplace, which indirectly impact the job. Furthermore, hygienic elements may motivate employees and avoid work unhappiness. Motivation elements were sources of satisfaction, whereas hygiene variables were causes of unhappiness (Taylor, 2008). Dissatisfaction caused by hygiene concerns can reduce work satisfaction and performance significantly. To that end, it’s worth noting that pleasure with hygienic elements doesn’t always imply drive. Dissatisfiers arise from the surroundings and are contained inside the work process, rather than relying on the task itself. It should be mentioned that hygiene issues cannot be overlooked since this would result in disgruntled personnel and jeopardize its profitability. Working circumstances are the basic settings of an organization that builds an employee’s bodily and psychological comfort. Employers should not underestimate the impact of the workplace environment on workers’ pride and job happiness. Working circumstances can include machinery and technologies that help employees do their jobs more efficiently or assure workplace safety. Proper lighting, warmth, and cleanliness provide a more pleasant 23 environment and enable more efficient work, resulting in higher job satisfaction (Yousaf, 2019). Working environments that improve employee safety and comfort positively influence work satisfaction, stimulating employees. Relationships, according to Herzberg, are exchanges between one employee and another employee of equivalent status inside the firm. Positive interpersonal interactions promote cooperation and collaboration, both of which have been linked to increased job satisfaction.
Regulations and Policies “Policies and regulations,” according to Herzberg (1966), are defined organizational norms designed to fulfill and complete duties. Employees will be less frustrated if rules are made plain and applied properly. According to Ahmed et al. (2010), employees who were aware of and completely understood organizational policies were more motivated than those not provided with rules or were unsure about them. Furthermore, work satisfaction rises when rules are relevant to all employees, and all employees are aware of them (Yousaf, 2019). While regulations and guidelines will not boost employee contentment, they will cause job discontent if they are unjust or not implemented fairly. 24 According to Herzberg (1966), an employee’s connection with management influences work satisfaction. The greater the work satisfaction, the better the connection between administration and employees. A positive working connection between management and workers encourages in-depth discussion about the position and results in better outcomes and task execution, which leads to higher job satisfaction (Yousaf, 2019). Working connections that demonstrate a supervisor’s lack of competence, on the other hand, significantly raise job unhappiness. Organizations should make prudent judgments and considerations when choosing an administrator, given the administration’s influence on work satisfaction. Salary is the amount of money paid and extra advantages connected with the compensation provided to an employee for their labor. Adequate remuneration for an employee’s work improves an organization’s capacity to reduce job unhappiness. Workers often use salaries to measure their worth compared to other companies. To this end, an employee’s work satisfaction and loyalty to a company rise when they perceive their salary is comparable to that of their peers and similar businesses (Robbins, 2001). Herzberg (1966) in his initial research that he did not believe money to be a highly motivating element, but other studies looked at the impact of income on work satisfaction.
Bischoff & Owens (2019) – One of the most persistent concerns among education experts and politicians is how to give fair chances to kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds. According to national research, U.S. schools are chronically segregated by race/ethnicity and income (Reardon and Owens 2014), with economic segregation increasing in particular across children’s neighborhoods, schools, and school districts over the last few decades (Owens et al. 2018). Because economic segregation across schools or school districts leads to socioeconomic success differences, this tendency raises concerns about inequality in educational settings (Owens 2018). Segregation of income can generate an uneven distribution of two types of resources. Education financing is proportional to the amount of municipal tax receipts. Students’ and their families’ qualities are linked to family income (e.g., parents’ educational achievement). The quantity and quality of teachers and administrators a district may hire, and the facilities, course materials, and extracurricular activities available are all influenced by school funding. Despite disagreement over whether school spending influences educational outcomes, recent research has shown that increased school funding boosts children’s completed school years and adult earnings (Jackson et al., 2016). Gaps in standardized test outcomes between high- and low-income children are less common in states where money is divided more equitably among high- and low-income districts (Lafortune et al., 2018). School districts rely heavily on local property taxes for revenue, resulting in resource inequities between districts with high and low property values. Since the 1970s, most states have enacted school finance reform to compensate low-income districts for the larger tax base of higher-income districts. These redistributive initiatives tried to level the playing field between high- and low-income districts (Corcoran and Evans 2015). Since 1990, state-level education reform initiatives have highlighted adequacy standards in state constitutions’ education sections, which emphasize all children’s rights to adequate education and may result in low-income districts compensating spending (Corcoran and Evans 2015).
Bettini, E., & Park, Y. (2017) – Less experienced and competent instructors disproportionately teach kids of color and students from low-income families than White students from rich families (Mason-Williams, 2015; Palardy, 2015). Improving the efficiency of instructors who work with pupils of various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds has become a high concern (Darling-Hammond, 2013). However, school districts must first recruit highly qualified instructors, nurture their efficacy, and retain them (Darling-Hammond, 2013). Keeping beginner instructors is especially difficult at schools that serve a majority of pupils of color and students from low-income families. These rising rates of rookie teacher turnover have sparked fears that new teachers are avoiding children of color and those from low-income homes (Borman & Dowling, 2008). According to DeAngelis and Pressley (2011), attrition rates at high-poverty, high-minority schools vary significantly. They determined that demography cannot entirely explain the significant attrition seen in high-poverty schools. Some schools keep 50% of novices for 5 years, while others retain as little as 12.5 percent. Instead, novices may depart these institutions because of poor working conditions common in high-poverty schools that predominantly serve students of color (Schernoff, Mehta, Atkins, Torf, & Spencer, 2011). When accounting for working conditions, such as administrative support or school culture, the link between teacher attrition and student demographics was dramatically reduced, according to Johnson, Kraft, and Papay (2012). Johnson and colleagues discovered that “the apparent link between teacher turnover and student characteristics may largely reflect variations in the work circumstances” among schools serving children from varied origins (p. 20). According to a previous study, working conditions account for a considerable difference in rookie teacher turnover (Boyd et al., 2011). Knowing the nature of novices’ contacts with their working conditions may benefit school leaders in developing settings that retain novices in urban schools, given that working conditions are a predictor of teacher attrition from high-poverty schools (Johnson et al., 2012).
Teacher attrition affects all socioeconomic levels, but it is especially problematic in low-income institutions. Low-income, urban schools have a greater attrition rate than schools not deemed low-income (McKinney, Berry, Dickerson & Campbell-Whately, 2007). Teacher turnover rates are greater in schools with low-performing, high-poverty pupils (Guarino, Santibanez, & Daley, 2006), and there seems to be more than one cause for this. Although increased teacher attrition may influence student underachievement, student underachievement may cause higher teacher turnover (Hammonds, 2017). Furthermore, teachers in low-income communities often have larger caseloads and fewer resources than other instructors (Greenlee & Brown, 2009). Whatever the reason, instructors are quitting these classrooms in greater numbers than in other settings. Instructors in high-poverty schools were less likely to change schools than teachers in medium-poverty schools, but they were more likely to stop teaching entirely (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004).
Suppose children in low-income communities do not face enough problems, such as poverty and a lack of educational resources. In that case, they are also less likely to be taught by instructors with more than five years of experience (Freedman & Appleman, 2009). Teachers at these schools often need subject-specific professional development and successful teaching in areas related to the school’s vision and objectives (Mendez-Morse, 1991). Because special education and low-income schools require a high level of support, and teacher attrition in these areas is high, specific teachers and their colleagues are not receiving the resources and training they require to ensure their longevity. They are leaving before they can get what they require. Because of the high turnover rates in low-income schools, effective leadership tactics are routinely found and examined to identify their impact on keeping skilled teachers (Hammond, 2017). Some scholars believe that teacher turnover is caused by characteristics associated with schools serving pupils who are deemed disadvantaged (Darling-Hammond, 1999). Although other variables influence high levels of teacher turnover, in low-income communities, the principal’s leadership has a greater effect on keeping teachers (Ladd, 2011). While the problems of teaching in low-income communities cannot be overlooked when investigating teacher attrition and retention, the emphasis of this study is on school-level leadership.
Special Education Teacher Retention
Billingsley & Bettini (2019) – A growing and pervasive shortage of special education teachers jeopardize the quality of education delivered to children with disabilities. In 49 states in the United States, special educators are in low supply (National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services, 2016). According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment in teacher education programs is at an all-time low (NCES, 2016). Since 1975, when the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]) was enacted, there have been teacher shortages in special education in the United States. Although some children with disabilities had educational alternatives before 1975, this act, for the first time, compelled public schools to educate all students, resulting in a huge increase in demand for special educators (Dewey et al., 2017). Since then, demand for special educators has consistently outstripped supply, resulting in a nationwide, chronic shortage (McLeskey & Billingsley, 2008). According to estimates, shortages are worsening, particularly in urban and rural schools with high poverty rates (Levin, Berg Jacobsen, Atchinson, Lee, & Vontsolos, 2015). Attrition among special educators is particularly concerning because it exacerbates the shortage by requiring many districts to hire unqualified persons and spend precious resources on recruitment and induction rather than longer-term district initiatives (McLeskey & Billingsley, 2008). In high-poverty schools, teacher turnover is significant, making it difficult for children with disabilities to be taught by highly qualified special educators (Levin et al., 2015). The overall teacher turnover rate in the United States was 16 percent in 2012–2013, with 8% of instructors departing and 8% relocating to other institutions, much greater than the 3–4% attrition rate in other high-achieving countries’ education systems (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017). If school districts lowered the attrition rate in half, the teacher shortfall would be “basically eradicated” (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017).
Special educators had a somewhat higher attrition rate than general educators, with 17.1% leaving their schools in 2012–2013, 10.5 percent migrating to other schools, and 6.6 percent abandoning teaching (Goldring, Taie, & Riddles, 2014). Furthermore, cross-school migration is problematic since mobility patterns disadvantage children of color and those from low-income households (Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2005). According to Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond, attrition was 50 percent greater in Title 11 schools than non-Title 1 schools and 70 percent higher in schools serving the most children of color than those serving the fewest (2017). Furthermore, highly effective new teachers are more likely to transfer from high-poverty to low-poverty schools, exacerbating shortages of skilled teachers (Boyd et al., 2005; Goldhaber, Theobald, & Fumia, 2018). According to Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond (2017), special educators’ attrition rates varied dramatically depending on the number of students of color in a school, with 20 percent attrition in schools serving >55 percent students of color (i.e., the top quartile) and 11 percent in schools serving fewer than 55 percent students of color (i.e., the bottom quartile). Conley and You (2017) looked at teachers’ perspectives on school demographics. They built a linear matrix of evaluations to see whether the school had concerns with poverty, parental engagement, or student indifference. Among 2,060 secondary special educators, this composite did not predict intent directly. Still, it did predict work commitment, career commitment, and job satisfaction, which mediated a significant indirect relationship between these conditions and intent. Special educators who felt these conditions were a problem were more likely to leave. All of the studies found that special educators who worked in schools with more children of color and students in poverty were more likely to resign or want to leave. Scholars have proposed two main causes for this, based mostly on general educator research. Teachers’ racial/ethnic and socioeconomic biases may lead them to prefer teaching in schools with more White and socioeconomically privileged students. Also, demographics may be a proxy for other factors that correlate with it, such as working conditions, the proximity of schools to teachers’ homes, safety (Johnson, Kraft, & Papay, 2012; Simon & Johnson, 2015). This demonstrates that working conditions may account for some of the variation in attrition in schools serving more children of color and students in poverty, but it also suggests that teacher preferences for Whiter and wealthier students may account for some of the variation.
Physical attributes, organizational structure, and workplace social, political, psychological, and educational considerations are all things to think about. The research looked at a variety of aspects of special educators’ working conditions, including (a) demands, (b) social settings, (c) resources, (d) financial compensation, and (e) emotional responses and coping mechanisms. Demands As previously said, special educators have a wide variety of responsibilities, and if their expectations exceed what they can reasonably provide, they may get dissatisfied and leave (Bettini et al., 2017). In general, demands. Bettini et al. (2017) used SEM to investigate how workload management views in the fall predicted emotional fatigue (a component of burnout) and intent in the spring for 61 rookie special educators and 184 novice general educators. Emotional exhaustion mediated an indirect link between task management and intent. Although the sample size for SEM was small, the results were comparable to prior studies (Hagaman & Casey, 2018; Kaff, 2004). Forty-eight percent of special educators who wanted to leave stated their capacity to help too many expectations were harming students. The volume and complexity of the cases in the docket. In numerous studies, the overall number of pupils taught has been connected to intent. In a countrywide study, Berry (2012) revealed that a rural teacher’s workload was significantly negatively related to purpose. According to Billingsley, significant caseloads were reported by 33 percent of special educators who left a large metropolitan district, more than any other concern (2007).
Furthermore, in 9 of 13 focus groups, Hagaman and Casey (2017) observed that caseload size was associated with new teacher attrition; notably, preservice and early career teachers brought this up, but administrators did not. According to two studies, the complexity of caseloads may be important. According to Kaff’s (2004) study, the complexity of student demands on caseloads caused 57 percent of those who wished to leave to do so. According to DeMik’s qualitative study, serving kids with a wide range of needs harmed teachers’ capacity to serve children effectively. Paperwork (keeping IEPs, checking IDEA compliance) is a significant burden that diverts time from special educators’ primary teaching responsibilities. According to prior research, nonteaching chores are onerous for instructors, interfere with instruction, and contribute to attrition. Albrecht et al. (2009) discovered that “time for paperwork” differentiated those who wanted to leave from those who wanted to stay among instructors educating students with EBD.
Billingsley (2007) conducted a three-year study of 99 special educators who had left an urban district and found that paperwork was the third most common reason for their departure. Other studies’ conclusions corroborated these concerns (Hagaman & Casey, 2018). Berry et al. (2011) found that paperwork was the second most prevalent work-related reason among 373 rural special education administrators and 203 rural special educators in a survey of 373 rural special education administrators and 203 rural special educators. The qualitative study exposes special educators’ perspectives on paperwork. They said that paperwork is onerous and leads to a heavy workload, that it comprises of a range of activities, such as extensive IEP forms, that it is redundant, forcing them to keep various sets of records, and that it interferes with teaching time (Hagaman & Casey, 2018; Kaff, 2004). School culture refers to the underlying cultural traditions, attitudes, and assumptions regarding schools, students, and teachers (Jones et al., 2013). According to prior research, special educators who worked in a positive school environment were more likely to intend to stay than those who worked in a negative one (Billingsley, 2004). The current research contributes to this body of information by focusing on a collaborative responsibility culture. Jones et al. (2013) assessed 47 special educators and 138 general educators in their first three years of teaching in urban primary and middle schools to see whether they could anticipate intent based on a culture of collaborative responsibility and fit. They found that special educators who believed in a shared responsibility culture were more devoted to the school.
School and district officials and teachers in the general education program and paraprofessionals must work together with special educators to best serve their students (Billingsley, McLeskey, & Crockett, 2017). Special educators’ overall evaluations of the assistance they received from their colleagues were associated with their decision to stay in the field (Berry, 2012). Ten percent of rural special educators’ differences in intent may be attributed to differences in overall support (a combination of the district, school administration, collegial, and other support). One teacher noted, “I have a fantastic support structure that includes paras, pertinent service providers, general education instructors, and parents.” In my opinion, it’s not all my responsibility” (Berry, 2012, p. 9). No study has looked at the assistance of parents, only other types of support provided by colleagues, administrators, and paraprofessionals. Administrative support is offered. Administrators may help special educators remain in the classroom by building an inclusive culture, promoting collaboration between special and general educators, and ensuring that all teachers have the resources they need to do their jobs successfully (Billingsley, McLeskey, et al., 2017). Administrators may have a significant impact on the retention of special educators due to the reliance they place on several experts’ cooperation to support their students (Youngs, Jones, & Low, 2011). Many researchers have examined attrition and retention. Administrative help was defined and evaluated differently in each of these investigations. For example, access to administrative help (Albrecht and colleagues, 2009) was seen by most researchers as a broad or global notion, while others highlighted or focused on particular administrative support elements such as trust and involvement in decision-making (Cancio et al., 2013). (e.g., Cancio et al., 2013). Pratter-Jones, 2011a) says: Studies looking at how special educators worldwide rate school-based administrative support have shown that those who rate it higher are more likely to want to stay, which is in line with earlier findings.
Collegial support may help teachers learn more successfully, provide emotional support for dealing with demands, and navigate their schools’ institutions (e.g., Grossman & Thompson, 2004). According to some experts, collegial support is especially important for special educators, who depend on collaboration to plan services and ensure that children are meaningfully involved in general education (e.g., Billingsley, Bettini, & Jones, in press; Bettini et al., 2018). Because special educators depend on these relationships, a lack of collegial support pushes them to invest time and effort in nurturing them. Several studies examined collegial support and cooperation, mainly matching earlier research. In a convenience sample of 776 special educators teaching adolescents with EBD, Albrecht et al. (2009) found that those who anticipated staying for 2+ years had better access to peer support. Collegial support plays a key role in why professors stayed or left (Hagaman & Casey, 2018). For example, DeMik (2008) used narrative inquiry to study the perspectives of five current and former special educators on attrition. One of the organizers mentioned a lack of support from colleagues, namely, opposed to allowing pupils with disabilities to participate. Disabled students were referred to as “your kids” or “those kids” by colleagues, who didn’t want “anything to do with me” (DeMik, p. 29); as a result, she had to devote more time to collaborative work. These studies show how a lack of collegial support might slow down joint efforts.
A few major absences exist. No studies differentiated between different forms of collegial aid, such as emotional and educational support. Second, no studies have looked at how collegial support could work with other characteristics to predict attrition. Collegial support, for example, may be larger at institutions with more administrative assistance. However, no studies have looked at these complex connections. Finally, collegial support may be particularly important for special educators working in inclusive contexts. Even though numerous studies focused on special educators working with children with unique impairments, none examined how the service delivery paradigm may reduce the link between collegial support and attrition. Under the supervision of a special educator, paraprofessionals help children with impairments, and their function may become more important as special educators’ caseloads expand. Special educators’ attrition is probably tied to districts’ success in hiring and retaining great paraprofessionals. Autonomy refers to the extent to which the social context permits special educators to make decisions about their job (Conley & You, 2017). Participation in decision-making was linked to special educator attrition in prior research. Conley and You (2017) used SASS questions to measure autonomy in secondary special educators, questioning their views of control over various aspects of their professions (e.g., teaching techniques, discipline). While autonomy did not directly predict intent, it did predict work commitment and job satisfaction, which mediated an indirect relationship with intent. Among special educators serving students with EBD, Albrecht et al. (2009) discovered that access to curricula, instructional materials, and technology differentiated those who planned to stay from those who planned to leave; however, the quality of their physical classroom space did not differentiate those who planned to stay from those who planned to leave. According to qualitative research, special educators who stayed or planned to stay stated they had greater access to the curriculum, but those who left or planned to leave said they had insufficient teaching materials. For special educators, time is split among various duties, including paperwork, IEP meetings, instruction, and collaboration. Participants’ assessments of the appropriateness of their time were connected to their purpose in various studies. According to Albrecht et al., teachers of children with EBD who reported having adequate time for paperwork were more likely to want to stay (2009). Speech-language pathologists with a good attitude about school schedules were more likely to intend to stay, according to Edgar and Rosa-Lugo (2007). In particular, when special educators’ schedules were less restricted, a shortage of preparation time mixed with unreasonable expectations contributed to the urge to resign.
Brunsting et al. (2022) – Burnout is a prominent issue among special education teachers (SETs), especially among those who deal with children with emotional–behavioral disorders (EBD), who experience burnout at a higher rate than other instructors. Workplaces, especially social support, can alleviate burnout, but previous research has failed to identify the most important sources and kinds of social support. The authors conducted a longitudinal study with 230 SETs serving students with EBD, testing them three times for a school year. Administrative help, enough planning time, and autonomy in the fall predicted emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment in the winter and spring. Some of the relationships between working conditions and burnout components were mediated by SETs’ perspectives on workload management. Burnout was not connected to COVID-19-related changes in well-being during the early months of the epidemic.
Cumming, M. M., O’Brien, K. M., Brunsting, N. C., & Bettini, E. (2020 – We’ll focus on three factors that previous research suggests may have an impact on how SETs are taught. They are demands, such as instructional groups and responsibilities, social resources, such as administrative support, school culture, paraprofessional aid, and logistical resources, such as instructional resources, planning time, and paraprofessional assistance (Bettini et al., 2016).
Bettini et al. (2019) explained that researchers found that special educators who deal with children with EBD confront high expectations in a previous study. Their opinions of job demands are associated with their desire to leave the profession (Bettini et al., 2018). (Albrecht, Johns, Mounsteven, & Olorunda, 2009). Possible that teaching obligations are more important than other duties. Special educators find it more challenging to prepare and provide instruction with larger class sizes and more diverse pupils (Bettini, Wang, et al., 2018). Berry (2012) showed that rural special educators who served more children were more likely to intend to resign, while special educators claimed that serving students with a wide range of needs affected their choice to leave the profession.
Cumming et al. (2020) noted that SETs have a variety of responsibilities, such as determining the size of the class and the students’ needs and carrying out instructional duties, such as several grade levels and subjects to teach. Based on their review of previous work, Bettini et al. (2016) found a strong correlation between student achievement and the number of students in SETs’ instructional groups. When SETs are tasked with teaching smaller classes of students with similar learning needs, they demonstrate better instructional abilities and see their students’ results rise (e.g., Bishop et al., 2010; Russ et al., 2001; Wanzek & Vaughn, 2007). On the other hand, no research has examined how the number of grades and subjects to arrange and teach effects the quality or effectiveness of teaching (Bettini et al., 2016). Teaching across grades and disciplines is a huge difficulty for educators, who must master a wide variety of standards and curricula and the practical issues that come with teaching on many topics simultaneously (Bettini et al., 2019). Students with EBD who are in self-contained classrooms with SETs report that they have more difficulty managing their workloads, are more emotionally exhausted, and are thus more likely to consider leaving the classroom, as we observed in recent research (Bettini Cumming et al., 2020). More research is needed to discover how these demands connect to these organizations’ adoption of positive practices.
Bettini et al. (2019) posit that teachers’ behavior and interactions are influenced by the cultural norms, attitudes, and assumptions that characterize schools as social institutions (Youngs, Frank, Thum, & Low, 2012). By having access to colleagues, paraprofessionals, and other specialists in the field, teachers are better equipped to deal with the demands of their employment thanks to school social settings (Billingsley & Bettini, 2019). A school culture of shared responsibility for students with disabilities (Jones, Youngs, and Frank, 2013), as well as collaborative school culture (Johnson et al. 2012), paraprofessional support (Albrecht et al. 2009), and administrative support (Albrecht et al., 2009), have consistently demonstrated relationships between intent to stay in school and social resources (such as school culture) (Cancio, Albrecht, & Johns, 2013; Gersten, Keating, Yovanoff, & Harniss, 2001). Conley and You (2017) showed that job satisfaction, dedication, and readiness to stay were linked to perceptions of administrative support and school culture in a nationally representative survey of secondary special educators. There has been little study on how paraprofessional aid might help or hinder the desire to stay in the field of special education, as we discovered in a recent review (Billingsley & Bettini, 2019). It’s unclear how administrators, for example, might impact school culture due to the lack of study on the complex connections among social resources (Billingsley & Bettini, 2019). (Billingsley, McLeskey, & Crockett, 2014).
Cumming et al. (2020) highlighted that key to the success of the social context in which SETs operate (administration support, school culture, and paraprofessional help) is the ability to use instructional and behavioral management measures (Bettini et al., 2016). Schools are places where educators get together to share ideas and learn from one another to improve their craft (Grossman & Thompson, 2004; Youngs et al., 2012). To help teachers improve their skills and knowledge, school leaders may create a learning-friendly environment and provide the time and tools they need (Bettini et al., 2016; Billingsley et al., 2017). Many researchers have examined the relationship between general educators’ use of social resources and the adoption of successful practices by special education teachers (SETs). However, Bettini et al. (2016) discovered relatively few studies analyzing this relationship. Some qualitative and mixed-method research has repeatedly shown that schools with a high level of achievement in the lives of students with disabilities have cultures of collaboration and shared responsibility (e.g., McLeskey et al., 2014). No research has examined how SETs’ social resources in self-contained classrooms for children with EBD (Bettini et al., 2017) connect to teaching and behavior management strategies. However, these resources have been shown to reduce stress and emotional tiredness in these instructors (Cumming et al., 2020). Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals, poor teaching quality, and decreased student interest in other disciplines have been related to burnout (Ruble & McGrew, 2013; Wong et al., 2017). Through the reduction of exhaustion, social resources may be associated with increased use of effective educational and behavior management measures.
Bettini et al. (2019) found several instances of logistical resources, such as curricular materials and preparation time, that support special educators in achieving their primary educational objectives (Billingsley & Bettini, 2019). A desire to continue teaching may be connected to logistical resources that have not been well investigated (Billingsley & Bettini, 2019). textbooks are examples of curricula resources, which are instructional materials that provide teachers precise instructions on what to teach and how to teach it (Siuty, Leko, & Knackstedt, 2018). A growing body of data implies that curricular resources are critical for teaching and may be connected to a student’s desire to stay in school (Siuty et al., 2018) (Billingsley & Bettini, 2019). Teachers who planned to continue teaching EBD students were separated from those who planned to resign based on their evaluations of material resources. Special educators may use planning time to prepare classes, complete paperwork, and consult with colleagues (Billingsley & Bettini, 2019). Special educators often cite planning time as a need for their professions to run well (Bettini, Wang, et al., 2018), and some research shows that those who have more time for planning and paperwork are more likely to desire to stay in their positions.
Cumming et al. (2020) elaborated that teachers need logistical resources such as curriculum materials and preparation time to fulfill their responsibilities. According to a wide body of research with general educators, curricular materials may significantly influence the quality and effectiveness of teachers’ instructional approaches, including studies that enable causal findings (e.g., Jackson & Makarin, 2018; Jimenez et al., 2014). More study on SETs is needed. However, studies with general educators demonstrate that when SETs have organized curricula that help them plan and provide teaching relevant to their students’ needs, they apply more instructional strategies (Brownell et al., 2014; Siuty et al., 2018). On the other hand, teachers who lack a formal curriculum are more likely to plan and deliver instruction using ad hoc materials of lesser quality (Siuty et al., 2018). The importance of enough planning time has not yet been fully explored, but research suggests it is (Bettini et al., 2016). It has been found that effective practices learned in professional development are directly linked to a teacher’s perceptions of planning time adequacy. When SETs do not have enough planning time, they use instructional time to complete other responsibilities (e.g., paperwork), which reduces the amount of instructional time available to the student. Insufficient preparation time has also been associated with emotional exhaustion, which has been linked to effective teaching methods (Cumming et al., 2020; Wong et al., 2017). Thus, SETs’ use of effective practices may be connected to the amount of time they have available to teach and the amount of emotional exhaustion they experience due to their preparation time. Based on a growing corpus of educational research, we focus on particular emotional outcomes that are likely to have a role in SETs’ use of instructional and behavioral management practices—workload manageability, emotional weariness, stress, and self-efficacy.
Bettini et al. (2019) noted that the term “role overload” or workload management refers to teachers’ subjective judgments of the degree to which one can do duties adequately within the time provided (Bettini, Jones, et al., 2018). According to research, teachers are more likely to stay in their jobs when they consider their workloads are appropriate and experience less emotional exhaustion as a result (Albrecht et al., 2009; Bettini, Jones, et al., 2017). A study by Bettini, Jones, and his colleagues found that new special educators who felt their workload was too much were more emotionally exhausted and more likely to leave their jobs. According to the conservation of resources theory, work-life balance may mediate between working conditions and affective outcomes and retention intentions for teachers (Bettini, Jones, Brownell, Conroy, & Leite, 2018). Still, studies have rarely articulated what factors lead teachers to believe their workloads are more manageable (Bettini, Jones, Brownell, Conroy, & Leite, 2018).
Emotional exhaustion (a component of burnout) and stress may be regulated by SETs’ perceptions of task manageability (Bettini et al., 2018; Cumming et al., 2020). Due to long-term stress, emotional resources are depleted and the worker’s emotional capacity is exhausted, resulting in emotional tiredness (Brunsting et al., 2014). The authors (Maslach and Jackson, 1981, pp. 99-100). Preliminary studies have revealed that SETs who see their tasks as more challenging report higher stress levels and emotional exhaustion (Bettini, Cumming et al., 2020; Bettini et al., 2018; Bettini, Cumming, et al. 2020). working conditions, workload management, and emotional exhaustion and stress might determine whether or not SETs will remain in their career (Cumming et al., 2020). There needs to be further investigation into how these connections affect effective practices in self-contained settings by SETs for children with EBD. Self-efficacy. “A teacher’s judgment of his or her powers to bring about desired results of student engagement and learning” (p. 783) is characterized by Tschannen-Moran and Hoy (2001) as “a [teacher’s] evaluation of his or her skills” (e.g., instruction, classroom management). SETs’ views of workload management are likely to impact self-efficacy since employees feel less successful when demands are high and resources are few (e.g., Benight et al., 1999; Chen et al., 2009). Many studies show that individuals are more likely to succeed in a task when they feel like they are making a difference (e.g., Stajkovic et al., 2018). When it comes to working conditions, self-efficacy may serve as a buffer between the two.
An examination of teacher studies by Zee and Koomen (2016) revealed that highly successful educators use more effective teaching and behavior management tactics and a relationship between teacher self-efficacy and student adjustment at the academic level. Self-efficacy has been studied less often; however, researchers have shown that SETs’ self-efficacy is associated with burnout, linked to poor instructional quality (Ruble & McGrew, 2013; Wong et al., 2017). Since self-efficacy may be connected to both working circumstances and the use of effective practices, it’s important to look at the connection between working conditions and the use of instructional and behavioral management methods in self-contained settings for children with EBD.
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