This study investigated factors which motivated individuals to initially pursue careers in special education, factors which contributed toward their plans to remain or leave the field, and their perceptions of school districts' effective and ineffective recruitment and retention practices. The sample comprised of 15 individuals employed in public schools throughout north Texas who initially pursued careers in special education. Data were collected through the form of audio-recorded semi-structured telephone interviews. Empathy towards students, family, and opportunities to fill job vacancies were factors that participants cited the most for initially pursuing careers in special education. Furthermore, most of the interviewees reported satisfaction within their jobs, but noted excessive demands and lack of administrative support as contributing to job dissatisfaction.
Motivational Factors toward Pursuing
a Career in Special Education
Chronic shortages in the field of special education continue to pose challenges for public schools across the United States (Billingsley, Carlson, & Klein, 2004; Boe, 2006; Billingsley & McLeskey, 2004; Brownell, Hirsch, Seo, 2004; Singh & Billingsley, 1996; Strunk & Robinson, 2006; Thornton, Peltier, & Medina, 2007). The limited number of individuals entering and/or remaining in the field of special education has resulted in school districts' inability to fill the necessary teaching positions; such shortages have been linked to difficulties in the recruitment and retention of qualified individuals (Olivarez & Arnold, 2006). Although difficulties with the recruitment of teachers, low retention, and high attrition rates are evident across all teaching professions, it is much more prevalent among special educators. Specifically, teachers of students with emotional/behavioral disorders exhibit the largest shortage, followed by those serving students with severe/profound disabilities, and learning disabilities (McLeskey, Tyler, &...
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