The Effects of Induction, Mentoring and Local School Culture on Retention of Beginning Special Education Teachers




Morrison, Nancy J.

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A mixed-methods study was conducted to determine the effects of induction, mentoring and local school supports on the retention of beginning special education teachers. A random nationwide sample of 477 elementary and secondary special education teachers with five years experience or less completed a web-based survey of 35 open and forced choice items to determine their perceptions of the effectiveness of supports from induction programs, mentors, and local schools. A representative subsample of respondents participated in follow-up interviews. Respondents were 86% white, 84% female, median age 33, and were representative of previous research with respect to race/ethnicity, gender, age, and teacher preparation programs. Respondents taught students from a wide range of disability groups in a variety of teaching settings. Respondents reported induction programs and mentors to be somewhat effective, although induction activities and frequency of participation varied. The majority of respondents had special education teacher mentors. Job design and working conditions were identified as areas of concern because of heavy student caseloads, paperwork demands, lack of planning time, and numbers of daily class preparations. Administrative support was perceived as somewhat effective, and colleague support most often came from other special education teachers or mentors. Respondents reported equivocal views of collaborating with general education teachers. Local school cultures were generally viewed as positive, but were sometimes perceived as less inclusive for special education teachers and students. Statistically significant differences were found between mentoring effectiveness and secondary teachers, between administrative support and elementary teachers, and between job satisfaction and teachers’ intent to remain in teaching 15 years or longer. No statistically significant differences were found for induction effectiveness. Recommendations from respondents for supporting beginning special education teachers included improved professional development, administrators with knowledge of special education, reduced student caseloads and paperwork demands, and inclusion of special educators in the schoolwide learning community. Additionally, respondents described the many reasons they like being special education teachers. Findings are discussed with respect to policy and practice implications as well as implications for future research.



Special education teachers, Teacher mentors, Teacher attrition, Local school culture, Teacher induction, Beginning teachers