Date of Award

Fall 12-2019

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Special Education

Advisor

Janet Spector

Second Committee Member

Janet Fairman

Third Committee Member

James Artesani

Additional Committee Members

Deborah Rooks-Ellis

Sarah Howorth

Abstract

This study compared the perceptions of special education administrators (SEAs) and special education teachers (SETs) regarding the importance of administrative supports in retaining SETs, and also explored SETs’ levels of satisfaction with current supports and factors that correlated with satisfaction. Survey methods were used to identify and compare the perceptions of the importance of 23 administrative supports to the retention of SETs by 39 Maine SEAs and 122 Maine SETs. Using a framework developed by House (1981), administrative support items were assigned to one of four categories of support: emotional, instrumental, informational, or appraisal. The results of the study indicated that SEAs perceived emotional supports as being more important to the retention of SETs than other forms of supports, while SETs rated the importance of emotional and instrumental supports as more important than the other two types of supports. There was alignment between both groups for only two items that were deemed as most important to teacher retention: (a) showing genuine concern for teachers’ program and students and (b) providing support when teachers become overloaded. SETs indicated varying levels of satisfaction with SEA-provided supports. Although they were generally satisfied with most supports they received, three supports that were perceived as highest in importance were ranked as lowest in satisfaction: (a) having input into decisions that affect me, (b) providing support when I become overloaded, and (c) having time for non-teaching responsibilities. Correlational analyses revealed a relationship between satisfaction and two SET characteristics and job conditions: frequency of interaction with SEAs and intent to remain in the profession. SETs who interacted with their administrator at least once a week, tended to be more satisfied with supports than teachers who interacted less frequently. In addition, SETs who indicated intent to remain in the profession for two or fewer years were significantly less satisfied with supports received than those indicating intent to remain three or more years. There was no relationship between SET satisfaction and length of teaching experience, type of special education program, or caseload size.

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