Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in School Leadership


Center for Leadership & Learning


College of Education

Committee Chair

Dr. John Freeman

Second Committee Member

Dr. Tim Carter

Third Committee Member

Dr. Mark Gotcher

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Mary B. Gunter


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to identify factors affecting special education teacher recruitment and retention throughout the Northwest Arkansas/River Valley region. This study contains both quantitative and qualitative survey data from 30 public school districts and 401 special education teachers currently serving in the field. The survey, deployed over a 30-day period, contained a series of multiple choice, Likerttype, and open-ended questions that were analyzed by the researcher to answer seven research questions. The results of this study indicate that perceptions of job commitment do not differ significantly based on the demographic characteristics of special educators. Yet, data did suggest that a special educator’s teaching role does play a role in their level of job commitment. According to the data, special educators serving in the self-contained teaching role were found to be more committed than those teachers serving in inclusion. This study suggests that special educators who are satisfied with their current position are more committed to their jobs and will teacher longer. However, stress was negatively correlated with both job satisfaction and career longevity. Data also indicates that paperwork issues, workload issues, lack of administrative support, and low salaries were the most prevalent reasons given for wanting to exit the profession. Less than 50% of respondents indicated that their intent was to stay in the profession for longer than three to five years. Of those wanting to leave the field of special education, the most frequently selected reasons were retirement, to teach in general education, and to seek employment outside of the field of education. To recruit and retain more special educators, respondents suggest offering additional financial incentives, which the majority of schools within this region do not currently offer. Increased support and viii paperwork assistance were also frequently suggested ways to improve recruitment and retention efforts. Additionally, this study found that special educators are often intrinsically motivated and enter the profession due to their love for special education students.