An Examination of the Professional Challenges, Job Satisfaction, and Intention to Leave the Profession of Urban Elementary Special Education Teachers
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Special education teachers are under tremendous pressure to deliver a personalized educational experience to special needs children while, at the same time, operating within an equal opportunity, politically driven educational system. Urban teachers are under even more constraints since urban public schools do not typically have the resources, materials, and support from parents needed to deliver the best possible educational experience to students. In 2000, Coleman suggested that caseloads followed closely by paperwork are the biggest concerns of special education teachers. This author further suggests that, on average, special education teachers prepare fifty lessons per day for special needs children, and spend one to two days per week managing paperwork. Budgetary constraints in urban schools further place obstacles in front of special education teachers who must make do with materials and training that are incomplete or out of date. Professional challenges may be the reason behind a lack of special education teachers in urban areas, and the fact that the demand for special education teachers was outpacing the number of special education teachers entering the field. The purpose of this study is to explore five research questions that examine the antecedents to an urban elementary special education teacher's intentions to leave the special education profession. Five professional challenges were developed from extant literature to test their influence on job satisfaction and three constructs from the theory of planned behavior. Job satisfaction and these three constructs were tested for their predictive validity influencing a subject's behavior intention to leave the profession. Using a non-random, purposeful sample of 79 certified special education teachers in urban Texan school districts, a quantitative method using multiple regression was used to test nine correlations. Results suggest that professional challenges significantly influence job satisfaction and perceived behavioral control from the theory of planned behavior. Behavior intention to leave the profession was significantly influenced by job satisfaction, attitudes about leaving the profession, and perceived behavioral control. Attitudes about leaving the profession were significantly influenced by job satisfaction. The subjective norms construct was not a significant predictor of behavior intention, and neither attitude nor subjective norms was influenced by professional challenges.
Meloncon, Brenda (2011). An Examination of the Professional Challenges, Job Satisfaction, and Intention to Leave the Profession of Urban Elementary Special Education Teachers. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from