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Volume 15, Number 2

November 2002

Journal of

Special
Education
Leadership
The Journal of the Council of Administrators of Special Education
A Division of the Council for Exceptional Children

Articles

Administrators’ Perceptions of Special Education Law ..............................................43
—Donica N. Davidson, Ed.D., and Bob Algozzine, Ph.D.

Administrators’ Perspectives of the Impact of Mandatory Graduation
Qualifying Examinations for Students with Learning Disabilities ............................49
—Genevieve Manset-Williamson, Ph.D., and Sandra Washburn, M.A.

Improving Special Education Teacher Retention: Implications
from a Decade of Research............................................................................................60
—Bonnie S. Billingsley, Ed.D.

Burnout Among Special Education Teachers and Perceptions of Support ................67
—Robert H. Zabel, Ph.D., and Mary Kay Zabel, Ph.D.

Superintendent’s Commentary:
“May You Live in Interesting Times” ........................................................................74
—Jennifer Esler Reeves, Ed.D.

CASE IN POINT: Same Song and Verse or Will the Melody Change? ....................76
—Kenneth E. Schneider, Ed.D.

ISSN 1525-1810

Editorial Board
Editor
Dr. Mary Lynn Boscardin
University of Massachusetts at
Amherst

Assistant to the Editor
Heather Goukler
University of Massachusetts at
Amherst

Board of Associate Editors
Dr. Patricia Anthony
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Lowell, MA
Dr. Judy Montgomery
Chapman University • Orange, CA
Dr. Carl Lashley
University of North Carolina
at Greensboro
Dr. Edward Lee Vargas
Hacienda La Puente Unified
School District
City of Industry, CA

Review Board
Dr. Kenneth M. Bird
Westside Community Schools
Omaha, NE
Dr. Rachel Brown-Chidsey
University of Southern Maine
Gorham, ME
Dr. Leonard C. Burrello
Indiana University • Bloomington, IN
Dr. Colleen A. Capper
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Jean B. Crockett
Virginia Tech • Blacksburg, VA

Dr. Pia Durkin
Boston Public Schools
Dorchester, MA
Dr. Margaret E. Goertz
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Ms. Charlene A. Green
Clark County School District
Las Vegas, NV
Dr. Susan Brody Hasazi
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT
Dr. Robert Henderson
University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign, IL
Dr. William Hickey
Avon Public Schools • Avon, CT
Dr. Dawn L. Hunter
Chapman University • Orange, CA

Dr. Thomas M. Skrtic
University of Kansas • Lawrence, KS
Dr. William Swan
University of Georgia • Athens, GA
Dr. Martha Thurlow
National Center on Educational
Outcomes, University of
Minnesota • Minneapolis, MN
Dr. Deborah A. Verstegen
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
Dr. David Wood
Florida Southern College
Lakeland, FL
Dr. Jim Yates
University of Texas at Austin

CASE Executive Committee 2002–2003
Brenda Heiman, President

Dr. Shirley R. McBride
Canadian Government • Victoria, BC

Steve Milliken, President-Elect

Dr. Harold McGrady
Division of Learning Disabilities
Columbus, OH

Christy Chambers, Secretary

Dr. Jonathan McIntire
Orange County Public Schools
Orlando, FL

Emily Collins, Representative
of CASE Units

Dr. Margaret J. McLaughlin
University of Maryland
College Park, MD

Cheryl Hofweber, Canadian
Representative

Dr. Tom Parrish
American Institutes For Research
Palo Alto, CA

Jerry Hine, Policy & Legislation Chair

Dr. David P. Riley
The Urban Special Education
Leadership Collaborative
Newton, MA
Dr. Kenneth E. Schneider
Orange County Public Schools
Orlando, FL

Beverly McCoun, Past President
Cal Evans, Treasurer

Thomas Jeschke, Representative to CEC

Eileen McCarthy, Membership Chair
Mary Lynn Boscardin, Journal Editor
John Faust, Publications and
Product Review Chair
Jim Chapple, Professional
Development Chair
Luann Purcell, Executive Director

The Editorial Mission
The primary goal of the Journal of Special Education Leadership is to provide both practicing administrators
and researchers of special education administration and policy with relevant tools and sources of information based on
recent advances in administrative theory, research, and practice. The Journal of Special Education Leadership is a journal
dedicated to issues in special education administration, leadership, and policy issues. It is a refereed journal that directly
supports CASE’s main objectives, which are to foster research, learning, teaching, and practice in the field of special
education administration and to encourage the extension of special education administration knowledge to other fields.
Articles for the Journal of Special Education Leadership should enhance knowledge about the process of managing special
education service delivery systems, as well as reflect on techniques, trends, and issues growing out of research on special education that is significant. Preference will be given to articles that have a broad appeal, wide applicability, and
immediate usefulness to administrators, other practitioners, and researchers.

Journal of Special Education Leadership
Volume 15, Number 2
Subscriptions
The Journal of Special Education Leadership is published by the Council of Administrators of Special Education
in conjunction with Sopris West. Copy requests should be made to CASE, 615 16th Street NW, Albuquerque,
NM 87104. Single copies may be purchased. Orders in multiples of 10 per issue can be purchased at a
reduced rate. Members receive a copy of the Journal of Special Education Leadership as part of their membership
fee. See back cover for subscription form.

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The Journal of Special Education Leadership allows copies to be reproduced for nonprofit purposes without
permission or charge by the publisher. For information on permission to quote, reprint, or translate material,
please write or call the editor.
Dr. Mary Lynn Boscardin, Editor
Journal of Special Education Leadership
175 Hills-South
School of Education
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

Copyright
The Journal of Special Education Leadership, a journal for professionals in the field of special education administration, is published by the Council of Administrators of Special Education in conjunction with Sopris West to
foster the general advancement of research, learning, teaching, and practice in the field of special education
administration. The Council of Administrators of Special Education retains literary property rights on copyrighted articles. Any signed article is the personal expression of the author; likewise, any advertisement is the
responsibility of the advertiser. Neither necessarily carries CASE endorsement unless specifically set forth by
adopted resolution. Copies of the articles in this journal may be reproduced for nonprofit distribution without permission from the publisher.

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A Letter from the Editor
In July 2002, A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and their Families, also known as the
Commission Report, was released. This report was written by the Commission on Excellence in Special
Education, created by President George W. Bush on October 2, 2001 (Executive Order 13227). This report
comes on the heels of the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which is now heralded
as “the driving force behind IDEA reauthorization.” Several concerns regarding the future mission and
structure of special education are raised in this report, with few solutions offered.
NCLB and the Commission Report will continue to shape the role of administrators and the way services
are provided for students with disabilities. With the passage of NCLB there will be an even greater need for
building principals to have more than just a passing understanding of special education. Principals will
need to have a working knowledge of the law as it relates to special education and of the accommodations
that make the curriculum accessible to students with disabilities. The intent is to increase the number of students with disabilities passing statewide assessments and graduating from high school.
A major recommendation of the Commission Report is to require that only highly qualified teachers educate our students with disabilities. However, the report says nothing about highly qualified administrators.
Administrators must develop programs that fulfill the professional growth and development needs of these
teachers to increase retention of the “best and brightest.” This means that administrators must also be among
the “best and brightest.” They must be able to cultivate a learning environment that provides every single
teacher with the support they need to achieve the optimal performance of their students.
The authors of the articles in this issue of JSEL address some of the concerns raised in the Commission
Report, though this was not their intention.
This issue includes articles by Drs. Donica N. Davidson and Bob Algozzine, Dr. Genevieve MansetWilliamson and Ms. Sandra Washburn, Dr. Bonnie Billingsley, and Drs. Robert H. Zabel and Mary Kay Zabel
that address some of the issues raised by the Commission Report. Dr. Ken Schneider provides a special education director’s point of view for Case in Point and Jennie Reeves provides a superintendent’s perspective.
The CASE Executive Committee and I always welcome your feedback regarding each issue of JSEL. We
hope you enjoy this issue of the journal.
Mary Lynn Boscardin, Ph.D., Editor
mlbosco@educ.umass.edu

42

Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002

1993. Ongoing audits of the school’s compliance with federal and state mandates for special education L Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 require knowledge in practices and procedures (Osborne.. aw permeates every facet of our public schools (Eads. 1983. Davidson.Administrators’ Perceptions of Special Education Law Donica N. 1993).. 1998). & Thurlow. Waxhaw. Today.. the changes in federal policies and guidelines have increased the principal’s responsibility from managing programs for children to regulating educational services for students with disabilities (Riehl. 1995. Bob Algozzine. Hines. • Most novice administrators did not believe they had sufficient knowledge of special education law. & Curran. 1990. 1987. This study posed the following question: What is the perception and level of knowledge of special education law among beginning administrators? Method The purpose of this study was to describe the perceptions of special education law among beginning school administrators. 2000). the principal must understand laws that govern special education. Ysseldyke et al. The knowledge of special education law is critical to the building-level administrator when managing special education programs because judicial consequences result when decisions are not in compliance with federal mandates. • Most novice administrators reported dissatisfaction with their administrative training and a need for additional preparation in special education law. A survey was used to sample 43 . Ysseldyke et al. principals often render inferior leadership and decision-making that commits district resources to inappropriate and legally liable situations (Smith & Colon. If they don’t have such knowledge. 2000. • More academic training in special education law appears warranted in efforts to provide effective leadership in managing educational programs for students with disabilities. 1993. Special education has been particularly affected by these trends (Eads et al. Ph. Current practices in special education are driven in part by laws that have established a provision of services to students with special needs. public school administrators must possess a basic understanding of special education school law and how it impacts their respective schools and school districts. Schmidt.. 2000). Riehl. • Opinions were solicited with regard to knowledge and understanding of special education law and satisfaction with administrative preparation in special education law as well as the perceived need for additional training. Dimattia. 2000. Ed.D. Russell. Ysseldyke. NC University of North Carolina at Charlotte • Beginning administrators’ perceptions of legislation affecting students with disabilities were surveyed. Einstein. Yell. Ysseldyke et al. and this change is reflected throughout our educational system. Algozzine. 2000). The political and social ramifications of our legal system have changed over time. & Tyler. Mandates that require complete compliance in educational services for students with disabilities have dramatically altered the role of building level administrators (Eads et al. 1998. 1995.D. Over three decades.. 2000). Sage & Burrello. In order to meet professional obligations and protect the rights of all individuals involved. Arnold. 1994.

and (4) Cohort 4—84 interns projected to graduate at the end of the then current school year. A single-stage sampling procedure was used to select participants. however. middle. (2) Cohort 2—67 subjects. One hundred and eighty graduates of Masters of School Administration programs and 84 students in 44 a full-time internship under a master principal were included.3%). graduated three years ago. Principal Fellows were mainly grouped in the 30 to 39-year-old (40. Procedure The research was conducted using a descriptive/ comparative design. Principal Fellows are enrolled full time and must remain in good standing in an MSA program at a university participating as an approved program site. who were evenly distributed between the elementary.8%) and 50 to 59 years (5. a Principal Fellow receives a stipend in addition to the scholarship loan.8%). Participants were asked their perception of their level of knowledge for procedural safeguards in IDEA that govern programs and services for children with special needs. There were a few Principal Fellows in age categories at opposite ends of the spectrum—20 to 29 (15.5%) age categories. complete a full-time internship in a public school during the second year of the program. (3) Cohort 3—76 subjects. Each Principal Fellow receives a scholarship loan in the amount of $20. The majority of the respondents were Caucasian (83%). The scholarship loan is repaid through service as a school-based administrator (assistant principal or principal) at a North Carolina public school. Small cadres of principals (9.2%) and lead teachers (2. graduated four years ago. Enrichment activities that supplement the MSA program focus on leadership development. Demographic information was also solicited. the sample was divided into four cohorts: (1) Cohort 1—38 subjects. These professional development activities are offered at the state level through the PFP office to all Principal Fellows as well as by the individual university programs. and participate in enrichment activities provided by the PFP. and high school levels. The majority of the females (58%) were assigned to elementary schools.5%) were among the group. The questionnaire was used to gather data on the perceptions of special education law. These individuals are selected based on a rigorous screening and agree to a four-year commitment to the state of North Carolina following their graduation. A cross-sectional survey was administered to beginning school administrators. For the purpose of comparing subgroups in the study.000 per year of full-time study for a total of $40. The North Carolina Principal Fellows Program (PFP) has existed for more than five years to ensure that the best. The positions held by most Principal Fellows were either assistant principal (54%) or intern (31%). The funding pays for tuition. Most of the respondents were females (73. fees. A group of these specially prepared beginning administrators (n = 264) participated in this research. most highly qualified students are selected for a preparation and qualification program in public school administration. Almost the entire group of Principal Fellows was certified in regular education (89%) and not special education (6%). a few were certified in both regular and special education (5%). and (2) 84 student interns were administered questionnaires during Internship/Seminar class at their respective universities.Law Perceptions opinions and to maximize the generalization of the findings to the widest possible population.000 over two years. Surveys were administered accordingly: (1) 180 Principal Fellow graduates were mailed questionnaires from the North Carolina Principal Fellows office.8%) and 40 to 49-year-old (37. While serving as an intern. The majority of Principal Fellows served in their current administrative assignment for only one to two years but spent from five to ten years in both teaching and administration (58%). most highly qualified students are selected for a preparation and qualification program in public school administration. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . and living expenses while in the program. equal to the 0–4 step on the state salary schedule for assistant principals. in contrast with the males. Participants The North Carolina Principal Fellows Program (PFP) has existed for more than five years to ensure that the best. graduated two years ago.

endorsement letters. This information was used in comparative analysis to determine if relationships existed between selected characteristics and knowledge of special education law.5% believed they had a “limited” to “basic” level of knowledge.Law Perceptions In an effort to obtain a high rate of return on the intern’s questionnaire. An instrument originally developed in 1986 for the purpose of surveying superintendent’s knowledge in special education law and later revised to access principal’s knowledge was adapted for this study (Robertson. Changes were made to meet 1997 revisions to IDEA and make the information applicable to local standards. Permission was requested to contact the professor responsible for the Internship/Seminar during the spring term.5% perceived themselves to have a “moderate” or “significant” level of knowledge of special education law. with 43. 34.1% of males.3% indicated a “limited” level. 45 . and (3) satisfaction from previous training in special education law.5% indicating a “moderate” level. including current position in public schools. While 52. If the professor requested assistance in administering the survey. and 10. 47. The majority of both groups perceived their level of knowledge to be at the “basic” or “moderate” levels. return envelope was provided to the professor for return of completed questionnaires.3 16 Basic 34. administrative experience.3% of females indicating a “moderate” level and 28.2 41 Moderate 41. Instrument. When asked to indicate their level of understanding for policies and procedures as mandated under the IDEA. and certification area.4% indicating a “basic” level. The senior author then contacted the professor and requested assistance in administering the survey during a class session.7% a “moderate” level. Also. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the (1) perceived knowledge for special education Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 law among beginning administrators.” compared to only 3. Table 1: Perceived level of knowledge of special education law Level of Knowledge % n Limited 13. However. 41. professional experience. Specifically.8% a “significant” level (see Table 1). the senior author mailed to the university a package containing the questionnaires. the senior author contacted the directors of the Principal Fellows Program at each university and explained the research project.8 13 The difference in perceptions that male and female Principal Fellows had concerning their level of knowledge of special education law was relatively small. Analysis of Data Frequency distributions were used to describe the sample. 1996). more females (13. and (3) level of satisfaction for previous administrative training in special education law. (2) need for administrative training in special education law. (2) level of need for administrative training in special education law. If the professor agreed to administer the survey during a seminar class.2% a “basic” level. Extra envelopes were sent with the survey package for any student who may have been absent and would need to complete the survey at a later date. females perceived their level of knowledge to be higher. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to examine relations between demographic characteristics and perceptions of knowledge.7 50 Significant 10. The questionnaire also contained items soliciting demographic information. with 50. A self-addressed. the senior author attended the seminar and gathered the data. A mail survey that took approximately 25–30 minutes to complete was the primary data source for this study. A 5-point Likert-type scale was used for participants to indicate opinions as to their (1) level of knowledge of special education law. 13.6%) perceived their level of knowledge to be “significant. Results Principal Fellows were almost divided equally as to their perceived level of knowledge of special education law.0% of the males indicating a “basic” level and 37. the percent distribution among levels was similar to the Principal Fellows’ perception of their level of knowledge of special education law. and directions for each student.

5% of all females and 40. A lower percentage of male (15.4% of the females perceived the same levels.2% indicated a “below average” need.4 18 11 Very High Female Male 11.0% of all Principal Fellows reported “above standard” (13.6%) and female (12. Ten percent of the Principal Fellows indicated a “very high” need for additional training.3% of the Principal Fellows rated their administrative training in special education law to be at “standard.9 43.7% indicated a “moderate” or “significant” level. Of this group. and 4.3%) of the Principal Fellows indicated a “limited” or “basic” level of understanding. compared to 43. while 24. Females (9. A high percentage of males and females indicated a “basic” or “moderate” level of understanding for special education policies and procedures.Law Perceptions More than half (53.9% of males and 46.5%) Principal Fellows perceived their level of understanding to be at the “limited” level. While 38.8% of the males perceiving an “average” need and 34.7%) gave a rating “below” or “well below” standard. 14. A higher percentage of females (11.3%). Only 28.0 5 0 Below Average Female Male 13. When Principal Fellows were asked to indicate their need for administrative training in special education law.3% indicating a “limited” level and only 6. When Principal Fellows were asked to rate their satisfaction with preparation they received in special education law during their administrative training. the majority (47.7 .2% rated it “well below” standard.4% Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . while 78. with females giving it the lowest rating. According to their responses.5% rated it “below” standard. while 46.3 10 2 Total Female Male 100.0% of Principal Fellows indicated a “moderate” level of understanding.” 46. a total of 34.6% females rated their administrative training in special education law “below” or “well below” standard.3%) or “well above” standard (1.2% indicated an “above average” or “very high” need for additional training in special education law.0 88 32 “very high” need for additional training as compared to males (6.8 43 14 Above Average Female Male 20. the majority (46.4%) perceived a 46 Table 2: Perceived need for additional training in special education law (by gender) Need for Training Very Low Female Male % n 5. The majority of both males and females rated their administrative training in special education law “below” or “well below” standard.7% indicating a “significant” level of understanding for policies and procedures as mandated under IDEA. While 37.9% perceived an “average” need and 20. and 14. The majority of both genders perceived an “average” or “above average” need for additional training. 40.5%) indicated an “average” need for additional training. with another 40. 48.4% of Principal Fellows believed additional training was not needed in special education law.6 12 5 Average Female Male 48.4% of the males indicated “basic” or “moderate” levels. Only 15. with 13. The level of understanding that male and female Principal Fellows had for special education policies and procedures was similar. Percentages were lower at each of the extremes.6 15.2% indicated an “above average” need for additional training. Only 18.5 34.4% perceiving an “above average” need. The perceptions that male and female Principal Fellows had for additional training in special education law are illustrated in Table 2. Of females. The level of satisfaction male and female Principal Fellows had for their administrative training in special education law is presented in Table 3.6% of all males rated their training “at standard.4 6.2% indicated a “very low” need.0% indicating a “basic” level of understanding. Specifically.5% perceived an “above average” need. A total of 84.0 100.7%) satisfaction.1%) were the only group that indicated a “significant” level of understanding.” 32.

4 28 11 At Standard Female Male 37. confusing. Interestingly. debilitating. Compliance issues over the services rendered to these students could be related to the level of knowledge school administrators have of special education law. then his or her rendering of decisions could vastly affect the outcome of services.8 34. The level of knowledge of special education law is a factor that could ultimately affect the type of leadership a principal demonstrates in the management of educational programs and services for students with disabilities. then information about the knowledge and under- Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 standing of special education law among school administrators must be of paramount importance. special education law does not authorize educational services based on individual interpretation.5 13 4 Below Standard Female Male 31. Sorenson.5 12 4 2. the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and its implementing regulations through specific legal provisions guide the identification. and power enables a person to provide either sound. For a buildinglevel administrator. evaluation.6 33 13 Above Standard Female Male 13. Knowledge is power. On a daily basis.0 2 0 100.3%).” Conclusions Effective leadership depends upon the acquired knowledge and understanding that a principal has for laws. Principals have a significant impact on the delivery of services for students with disabilities as a result of their knowledge of the laws that govern special education.8 12. principals and assistant principals are required to make decisions that affect the lives. Analysis of the data collected in this study suggests that novice administrators.3 . competent leadership or leadership that is fragmented. a school system could find itself in a compromising position and threat of litigation. the most recent and allegedly most well-prepared school administrators in the state.6 12. not only perceived themselves as having only a limited to basic level of knowledge in special education law (47%) but also reported an even lower level of understanding of special education law (53.0 100. Otherwise. and regulations governing the system as well as a responsiveness that meets the needs of the entire organization. due to their lack of knowledge of special education law.Law Perceptions Table 3: Satisfaction with administrative training in special education law (by gender) Satisfaction with Training % Well Below Standard Female Male 14. decisions that affect the educational programs and services offered to students with disabilities could be seriously jeopardized. policies. often. Knowing one’s level of knowledge and understanding is critical in the application of decision-making. Principal Fellows. In a review of case law. when given the scenario-statements based on special education law. and. males scored at a higher level than did the female participants. may have difficulty in providing leadership and effectively managing special education. the data of this study suggest that female Principal Fellows perceived their level of knowledge and understanding of special education law to be higher than the levels indicated by male respondents. If a Principal Fellow believes he or she has the knowledge and understanding of special education law when actually he or she does not. Chapman. and placement of students with disabilities. 47 .0 88 32 Well Above Standard Female Male Total Female Male n of male and female Principal Fellows rated their training “above” or “well above standard. If those who train principals— university faculties and local school system personnel—are to provide skills necessary for the effective administration of all educational programs. Consequently. and Lobosco (1987) found that an increasing number of parents and advocacy groups representing children with disabilities sought relief from the courts for noncompliance of educational services provided in public schools. Instead.5 40. However.

. NC 28223. D.D.1998). R. D. 48(07A). S.C. managing the special education program could become frustrating and challenging for the administrator. Opinions toward and knowledge of special education law: A survey of special education administrators.. J. Doctoral dissertation. The complexity of special education law and variation among administrators could lead to different interpretations that. (1987). M. Baltimore. Critical issues in special education (3rd ed. 3984. (1990). The nature and role of school law in public school administration.. J. 51(12A). Special education legislation affecting classroom teachers and administrators. M. 449–478). Riehl. Public school administrators’ knowledge of special education law. MD: Paul H. Illinois school administrators’ knowledge of special education law and regulations. The principal’s role in creating inclusive schools for diverse students: A review of normative. Principals have indicated their need for further training in special education law to improve their skills in the administration and management of special education. Methods for research in education (pp. Doctoral dissertation.). D. R. Without the knowledge and understanding of special education law. A. 55–81... M. Florida International University. Waxhaw. & Colon. B.J. Jaeger (Ed.. Dissertation Abstracts International.D. NC 28173. F.. In R.: American Educational Research Association. The law and special education.com. E-mail: mddavidson@aol. Survey research methods in education. principals with a limited knowledge may avoid or even relinquish their responsibility to others. (1993). About the Authors Donica N. (Jan. Boston. Brookes. Hines.. Sage.. Jaeger. Ed.Law Perceptions attitudes.edu. 55(07A). & Burrello L. Charlotte. Dissertation Abstracts International. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 .. is an educational consultant at 3611 Tom Greene Road. in turn. (1998). (2000). empirical. Washington.. 40–53. G. J. NASSP Bulletin. Effective management of special education programs. R. Arnold. M. References Chapman. Reading Improvement. (1996). C. As a result. Russell. L. Davidson.). M. Schmidt. Bob Algozzine. the leadership that a principal provides could have a “ripple effect” on all parties involved if the knowledge of special education law is below a minimal level. Sorenson. 9–12. Washington. MA: Houghton Mifflin. P. & Curran. R. 1908.uncc. & Tyler. 70. Legal responsibilities toward students with disabilities: What every administrator should know. L. D. A. Einstein. Yell. & Thurlow. (1993). & Lobosco. Eads. E-mail: rfalgozz@email. Florida principals’ and designates’ knowledge of special education law. Smith. F. 82. Upper Saddle River. (1983). V. and critical literature on the practice of educational administration.C. P. T. Ph. is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.. S. D. DiMattia. New York: Teachers College Press. April). 32(1). could lead to a variety of problems. F. (1994) Leadership in educational reform: An administrator’s guide to changes in special education. M. NJ: Prentice Hall. Instead of managing special education programs at the building level. Robertson. Public school administrator’s knowledge of recent Supreme Court decisions affecting school practice. Dissertation Abstracts International. (1997). 48 Osborne. J. L. (1987. Northwestern University. 1614. and perceptions of others. (1995). (2000). Review of Educational Research. Ysseldyke. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference. Algozzine.

the Gateway Qualifying Examination (GQE). • Administrators felt that. although they are important for student success on the exam. Despite the proliferation of high-stakes examinations. While MCTs for high S Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 school graduation were first introduced in a few states in the 1970s. in the last few years. Beyond the belief that high 49 . These stakes may consist of the public posting of results. and Sandra Washburn. Linn.D. • Administrators also agreed that. 1999). Of particular interest was whether administrators felt that the conditions created by the test would contradict efforts to provide inclusive or appropriately alternative course offerings. Secondary students who do not pass these examinations and therefore do not receive a high school diploma have limited career and postsecondary educational options.. 2000). failing to pass a high school graduation examination has great personal significance. • The overwhelming majority of administrators felt that repeated failure on the exam will contribute to students with learning disabilities leaving school before graduating. there is little evidence that this essentially carrot-and-stick approach to pedagogical reform has improved public education and even less on how it has affected students with disabilities (Airasian. Increasingly. educators and administrators could use test results to inform decisions about the direction of resources and instructional effort.A. additional resources will not be increased in the near future. efforts will be made to promote and support inclusive practices. M. as a result of the new graduation requirement. on the educational experiences and outcomes of students with learning disabilities (LD). tate and district assessment programs have been a central part of public school reform for the last fifty years (Linn. high stakes have been attached to the exams. 1988. Minimum Competency Graduation Qualifying Examinations Unlike tests that have high stakes for schools or districts. High stakes are imposed on schools by policy makers as a way to control curricular content and performance in schools. In this study. a new wave of interest in high standards has led to an increasing numbers of states adopting minimum competency graduation qualifying exams as a part of their accountability program (Heubert & Hauser. Politicians also use them as a relatively simple and inexpensive way to demonstrate a commitment to education and high standards. Indiana University • This study examined the perceptions of special education administrators and principals on the impact of requiring a minimum competency graduation examination for students with learning disabilities. • Administrators generally agreed that access to general education is important to success on the graduation exam. we examined administrators’ perspectives of the impact of Indiana’s recently enacted minimum competency test. cash benefits or fines to schools.Administrators’ Perspectives of the Impact of Mandatory Graduation Qualifying Examinations for Students with Learning Disabilities Genevieve Manset-Williamson. Accountability programs based primarily on standardized tests were instituted in an effort to affect the content and quality of education. Minimum Competency Tests (MCTs) for graduation are an example of highstakes exams where students experience the immediate consequences. Ph. or loss of accreditation or of local control. Ideally. 2000).

50 1993. the perceptions of administrators on the issue of requiring minimum competency graduation examinations for secondary students with learning disabilities were collected and examined. four years behind their peers in basic reading and mathematics skills. and (2) what changes did administrators perceive were needed in order to best support students in meeting these requirements? These questions were addressed through a survey of high school principals and directors of special education. while these skills represented a standard for students in general. Smith. Manset & Washburn. 1991. Like many high-stakes examinations. Smith. Because schools play an essential part in the transitioning of students. Although by definition having cognitive aptitude within a normal range. Whether mandating a MCT will eliminate the basic skill deficits of students with learning disabilities has not been determined. some researchers have found an association between dropping out of school and the failure to pass MCTs. The narrow focus of the curriculum and required remediation may have also countered attempts to include students with learning disabilities fulltime in mainstream classrooms. on average. 1993). That is. the move from instructional to compensatory models in high school special education programs.. drug abuse. programming and instruction will change as a result of the testing requirement. On the other hand. 1996. 1991). Many of these students’ skills will plateau between the 5th and 6th grade levels (Cawley & Miller. if there are going to be high standards. Goodman. and it’s possible that it varies greatly from student to student. and programming than the average educator. or a combination of all of the above. 1989. the support services associated with effective transition are no longer accessible (Gajar. 1990. It may be due to the inherent limitations of the student. & McAfee. the intent of requiring the GQE is to improve education. Like many high-stakes examinations. Shepard & Doughtery. the content of these standards must be the same for all students. the justification for requiring students with disabilities to pass the exit exam is one of fairness. Minimum competency tests are related to a narrowing of the curriculum as well (Herman & Golan. 1990.Graduation Qualifying Examinations standards will lead to better instruction. Researchers have found that minimum competency graduation exams have the potential for negatively affecting the educational experiences of students with learning disabilities (MacMillan et al. staffing. Their “bird’s eye view” of programs allows them a unique perspective from which to reflect on the impact of the new graduation requirement. Researchers provide little evidence as to the source of this plateau. It has been recognized. Goodman. By mandating a graduating examination. Ellis. the intent of requiring the GQE is to improve education. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . There is also little research on how graduation qualifying exams affect efforts towards full inclusion in high schools. they were not necessarily appropriate for those students with learning disabilities who required an alternative curriculum in order to successfully transition to adulthood. The following two questions framed this study: (1) how do administrators perceive that the new graduation requirements impact the educational experiences and outcomes of students with learning disabilities. that students with learning disabilities differ in many respects from students in general. and involvement in crime (Gajar. In this study. That is.. although we were not able to find research that addressed this particular issue. 1992). Administrators provide an important perspective on new policies because they have more information on (and control over) resources. secondary students with learning disabilities are. & McAfee. Deschler. however. unemployment. No doubt most readers are aware that the deficits that students with learning disabilities demonstrate in reading and mathematics can be extreme. It suggests a tough stance with universal high expectations and accountability. Students with learning disabilities who drop out of school are at risk for poverty. 2000). & Lenz. students and teachers are aware of the particular skills to be mastered in order to graduate. when students with learning disabilities are out of the educational system. MacMillan et al. poor instruction. and all students will graduate with the skills that will translate into success as an adult. MacMillan. 1991. 1994). For instance.

Factors were produced through a principal components analysis with varimax rotation for each portion of the survey. the items on the questionnaire were mathematically reduced to the 12 factors reported here (see Tables 2– 4 on pages 52–53). Survey Instrument Two related surveys. Only factors with a minimum eigenvalue of one were accepted. 1998a. 58 directors of special education (50%). 2000). were designed for this study. Indiana secondary students must pass a minimum competency test (MCT) in order to receive a high school diploma. all 358 high school principals in Indiana also received a survey. and 204 principals from 57% of Indiana’s public high schools responded (n = 262). Because some of the planning districts are large enough to have more than one administrator overseeing secondary programs. The GQE consists of items assessing language arts skills up to the 9th grade level and mathematics skills through basic algebra and geometry. 1 Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 Table 1: Descriptive information for planning districts and high schools represented in study N Graduation Rate* Percent Students Receiving Free or Reduced Lunch Planning Districts 58 ** ** High Schools 204 M 88 22 SD 7 8 * Percent of 12th grade students who graduate high school ** Not available whole (See Table 1). representing 60% of the planning districts. 3 = neutral or neither true nor false. Respondents were required to respond to statements by marking a 5-point Likert scale. 1998). 2 Also referred to as the ISTEP+.Graduation Qualifying Examinations Indiana’s Graduation Qualifying Examination Beginning with the graduating class of 2000. No other demographic data was collected from respondents. Data Reduction and Analysis Within each of the three parts of the survey. As with students in general. Permitted accommodations include extended time and the reading of the mathematics items to students with disabilities. Results from 1998 exam show that almost three-quarters of students with disabilities scored below the proficiency level in both the English/language arts and mathematics portions of the test (Indiana Department of Education. a majority of students with disabilities are finding it difficult to pass the examination. demonstrate test proficiencies. 2 = disagree or probably false. Of this initial sample. more than one participant may have been sent a survey in the larger districts. 1998b). students with learning disabilities are required to pass the exam in order to receive a diploma. Method Participants Surveys were mailed to 117 directors of special education responsible for secondary students with disabilities in all Indiana special education planning districts. Mean graduation and poverty rates for participating high schools approximate those for the state as a Students who meet course requirements. attend school 95% of the time. 4 = agree or probably true. and attempt the test when offered may receive a waiver to the testing requirement. one for directors of special education and one for principals (Manset & Washburn. with 1 = strongly disagree or definitely false. Because of the 51 .1 The Indiana Gateway Qualifying Examination (GQE)2 is designed to reflect the state language arts and mathematics curriculum standards. Questions in these parts of the survey pertained to the current and future impact of requiring the passing of the GQE for graduation and instructional practices and programming that predict success on the exam. Surveys consisted of five major parts with a total of 65 closed items. This study examines three parts of the survey. based on an extensive review of the literature on minimum competency examinations (Manset & Washburn. Students with learning disabilities must read the language arts portion of the test themselves. and 5 = strongly agree or definitely true. Not surprisingly.

691 .5 .758 .687 .707 .Graduation Qualifying Examinations Table 2: Factors for survey items related to administrators’ perceptions of services or resources that will predict success on GQE Factors Eigenvalue % Variance 8.752 .746 Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 .2 (1) Increased Inclusive Programming and Support • • • • • • Greater advocacy for inclusive programming on the part of special education teachers Increased level of administrative support for all teachers teaching in inclusive settings Additional professional development activities and training addressing inclusive school services Increased level of special education support to general education teachers teaching in inclusive settings Increased time in general education Increased teacher knowledge and utilization of instructional accommodations .699 . counselors.24 large number of items for the number of respondents.12 52 Loadings 13.2 Experience less choice of course selection (future) Participate in fewer vocational or career preparation courses (future) Enroll in less vocational or career preparation courses Enroll in more courses that focus on basic academic skills .742 .25 41.2 .e.6 was used for each factor.5 . A descriptive summary of responses for participants as a whole is provided through the reporting of percentage of administrators.12 34. Table 3: Factors for survey items related to administrators’ perspectives of current and future impact of GQE (1) Less Vocational and Alternative Course Choice • • • • Eigenvalue % Variance 4. Items included in each factor were combined by calculating mean responses across items and respondents.61 (3) Increased Time in Resource or Pullout • Spend more time in resource or pullout (future) • Spend more time in resource or pullout (currently) 1.690 (2) Additional Staff and Instructional Resources • Additional paraprofessionals assigned to teachers that instruct students with learning disabilities • Decreases to special educators’ case loads • Limiting the numbers of students in inclusive classrooms to 20 or fewer • Increased availability of tutoring services within the community • More extensive use of Teacher Assistance Teams 1.73 (3) Special Education Pullout and Related Services • Increased time in pullout instruction • Increased special education related services (i.788 8. Pair-wise deletion was used for missing items.687 (2) Attend Summer School More Often • Are attending summer school more often (currently) • Will attend summer school more often (future) 1.4 .6 .820 . etc. T-tests were used to determine the statistical significance of differences Loadings 8.12 (4) Repeated Failure on GQE Influences Decision to Dropout 1.695 . psychologists. a conservative minimum loading of .844 .816 .607 between the responses of principals and directors of special education..763 .790 .708 .849 8.643 .636 6. Bar charts illustrating the mean of response types on factors are provided to support the descriptive analysis.) 1.

622 (2) Additional Staff and Instructional Resources • Increased special education support services (i.9 . indicating a range of perception.) • Additional paraprofessionals assigned to teachers that instruct students with learning disabilities • Limiting the number of students in inclusive classrooms to 20 or fewer • Increased availability of tutoring services within the community 2.623 .840 .1 .Graduation Qualifying Examinations Table 4: Factors for survey items related to administrators’ perceptions of the changes that will occur over the next 3 years in response to the GQE. psychologist.. Responses of Principals vs. counselor.793 .764 . students with learning disabilities currently/will in the future. Eigenvalue % Variance 6.625 7.04 Results Results are summarized here through a comparison of mean responses from principals and directors of special education. 53 .48 (3) Instructional Focus on GQE • Increased use of practice tests • Additional instruction in test-taking strategies • Increased availability and use of instructional materials that resemble the format of the tests 1.741 . There were also significant differences between administrator groups on one of the factors related to perceived changes that would occur in the next three years as a result of the GQE requirement.732 .66 (4) Increase in Remedial Programming • Increased number of remedial courses • Mandatory ninth grade enrollment in remedial classes that focus on GQE preparation 1.0 ..894 .719 .725 ..27 (5) Decreased Time in Pullout Settings • Decreased time in pullout instruction • Increased time in general education 1.. While neither group responded with general agreement on this point. The two administra- Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 Loadings 11. but directors of special education were significantly more likely to agree that repeated failure on the GQE influenced the decision to drop out. In addition. for each of these factors. Both groups generally agreed that repeated failure on the GQE influenced student decisions to drop out.e. and (3) The following are practices predicted to occur in the next three years in response to the new GQE requirement. Principals were more likely to agree that there would be an increase in staff and instructional support as a result of the GQE requirement..641 . The reader should note that. (2) As a result of the GQE.729 tor groups differed on one factor related to the perceived impact of the GQE requirement on students with learning disabilities and one related to changes that would occur as a result of the new requirement.783 .8 .756 5. the standard deviations are fairly large.32 30.1 (1) Increased Inclusive Programming and Support • • • • • Increased level of administrative support for teachers teaching in inclusive settings Greater advocacy for inclusive programming on the part of special education teachers Additional professional development activities and training addressing inclusive school services Increased level special education support to general education teachers working in inclusion settings Increased willingness of general education teachers to include students in their classrooms .790 6. etc. a descriptive summary of responses is provided here through the reporting of percentage of administrators responding to the following three question types: (1) Provisions of the following services or resources predicts success on the GQE for students with learning disabilities. Directors of Special Education Principals and directors of special education were generally in agreement on their responses with the exception of two of the factors (see Table 5 on page 54 and Figures 1–3 on pages 56–57). directors of special education appeared much less optimistic that resources would increase...

since students with learning disabilities vary greatly in their needs and programs differ in their effectiveness.99 3.59 .26 3. There was disagreement over whether students with LD would spend more time in the resource room or pullout instruction as a result of the new graduation requirement. only 24% agreed that increased special education pullout or related services predicts success on the GQE for students with learning disabilities.92 . Seventy percent agreed as well that additional instructional and staff resources contribute to success for students with learning disabilities on the GQE.46 2.82 2.02 3. Respondents appeared split about whether students would experience less course selection and/or vocational preparation.87 . 4 = probably true.09 3. 2 = disagree.06 2.85 3. In contrast.14 Impact of GQE Requirement on Students with LDb Less course selection/vocational program Attend summer school more often More time in resource/pullout Failure on GQE encourages dropout 2.21 4. indicating an uncertainty around this item or an inability to make a general statement about all students with LD or all programs.87 . students with learning disabilities currently or in the future will experience the following. There was much more agreement (82% probably to definitely true) that the requirement will influence student’s decision to leave school prior to graduation.66 2.86 .83 .68 .96 Note: a1 = strongly disagree.85 .75 3.22* ..96 .73 .82 1.61 . resources Spec ed pullout & related services 3. with half of the respondents indicating a neutral response.62 3.84 . 4 = agree. 3 = neither true nor false.92 .75 . with 32% agreeing and 24% disagreeing with this statement.18 4. 2 = probably false. and 5 = definitely true Provision of the following services or resources predicts success on the GQE for students with learning disabilities Approximately 63% of the respondents agreed that increased inclusive programming would enhance GQE success for students with learning disabilities (see Table 6 on following page).83 .01 3.90 .66 1.83 .82* 4.80 . 54 As a result of the implementation of the GQE. Forty percent of respondents were neutral on this.76 .02 2. 3 = neutral. with approximately 30% of respondents agreeing with and 36 % of respondents disagreeing with statements related to the factor (see Table 6). Respondents also varied in agreement over whether students with learning disabilities would spend more time in summer school.45 3.84 2.13 3.. and 5 = strongly agree b 1 = definitely False. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 .17 3.Graduation Qualifying Examinations Table 5: Means for administrators’ perspectives on the impact of the GQE on students with learning disabilities Special Education Director Principal M SD M SD Predicts GQE Successa Increased inclusive programming & support Additional staff and inst.59 3.89 1.74 .75 Changes That Will Occur as Result of the GQE Increased inclusive programming/support Increased staff/instructional support Increased instruction focused on GQE Increased remedial programming Decreased time in pullout settings 3.

resources Spec ed pullout & related services 4.3 34. This lack of confidence is found both with principals and with directors of special education.1 . it may reflect the logistical realities.9 1.5 27.1 2. Discussion Although not universal.3 15. 55 .5 Impact of GQE Requirement on Students with LD Less course selection/vocational program Attend summer school more often More time in resource/pullout Repeated failure on GQE influences decision to drop out 5.7 7. A majority (56%) agreed that there would be increased inclusive programming and support for students with learning disabilities.4 .0 44.1 43.9 63. Fiftyfive percent agreed that there would be increased required remedial programming. including greater use of practice materials and instruction in test-taking strategies.4 .5 5.2 24.7 1. however.1 27.5 48.9 31.5 13.5 3. will be contingent on whether an appropriate.7 3. On one hand. There was little agreement.0 51.4 2. over whether students will spend more time in special education pullout programming as a response to the new graduation requirements.5 6.3 1.1 32. Only 26% felt that there would be an increase in instructional and staff resources. such as problems with scheduling and accessing resources for effective special education intervention.0 48.7 26.5 40.4 1.1 35.5 3. While this finding is encouraging in light of efforts to move to more inclusive programming.3 5.2 1.3 5.0 18.5 21.3 28.4 2.1 43.3 1.7 7.8 0 Changes That Will Occur as Result of the GQE Increased inclusive programming/support Increased staff/instructional support Increased instruction focused on GQE Increased remedial programming Decreased time in pullout settings 1.4 6.7 48.6 49.1 14.0 20.1 Practices predicted to occur in the next three years in response to the new GQE graduation requirement These factors related to changes administrators perceived would occur over the next three years in response to the GQE requirement (see Table 6). individualized curriculum is offered to students with learning disabilities in general education classrooms in a way that maximizes their learning potential.3 1. Success.6 29.1 6.1 2.9 21.5 6.3 . it may suggest little confidence or commitment to traditional special education programming as the appropriate means of raising the basic skill levels needed in order to pass the approximately ninth-grade-level examination. there is some agreement that access to general education is important to success on the GQE and that efforts will be made to promote Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 and support inclusive practices. On the other hand.5 22.9 30.5 6. This leads to questions that need to be addressed in the age of increasing accountability through standardized testing. it is less clear as what it means for the role of special education in preparing students for graduation exams. therefore.1 8.3 9.4 .4 1.9 1. Approximately 90% agreed that there would be an increase in the instructional focus related to the GQE.8 1.6 22.5 2.Graduation Qualifying Examinations Table 6: Percentages for administrators’ perspectives on the impact of the GQE requirement on students with learning disabilities Percentage of Administrator Responses Strongly Disagree/ Definitely False Disagree/ Probably False Neutral/ Neither True nor False Agree/ Probably True Strongly Agree/ Definitely True Missing Predicts GQE Success Increased inclusive programming & support Additional staff and inst.2 26.6 39. Few (22%) felt that there would be a decrease in time spent in special education pullout instruction.7 25.

In fact. those students with learning disabilities with the lowest reading skills levels entering high 56 school (anywhere from nonreaders to those reading at a 3rd or 4th grade level) will require intensive beginning reading instruction. additional remedial.Graduation Qualifying Examinations Are General Educators Willing And Able To Meet This Challenge? For those students with learning disabilities who are relatively high functioning and whose skills are similar to low-achieving students. However. and redistribution of resources. the graduation examination requirement may indirectly prove to enhance their educational experiences. For these students. why is this not occurring now? Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . basic skills courses may be appropriate. The challenge will be for secondary general education programs to offer a form of basic intensive basic skills instruction that will require radical changes in secondary preservice training. However. if students with learning disabilities can be taught to read and solve math problems at this grade level within the general education system. Many students will not only require intensive instruction in algebra and geometry but in the very basics of math computation or problem solving. The same scenario repeats itself for mathematics. This may be particularly true for those students whose disability is a result of a maturational lag or skill deficit exasperated by poor instruction in elementary and middle school. these courses may be more appropriate than simply providing compensatory instruction. curriculum.

there was little agreement that this would actually occur in the next three years. Without needed resources. and smaller caseloads. they are not necessarily designed to improve accessibility in the general education classroom for students with learning disabilities. Students forced to attend unproductive remedial courses that conflict with more appropriate coursework in order to satisfy state requirements are denied their right to individualized instruction and to a curriculum that will best maximize their success once they graduate. Schools and districts may vary in their alternative course offerings and in whether the schedules for remedial courses conflict with vocational/career classes. once students with learning disabilities are out of school. the imposed standards are reduced to political posturing rather than a true commitment to improving instruction for students with learning disabilities. and support will become irrelevant issues if students with learning disabilities leave school early on in their high school education. curricular changes. Will There Be Enough Resources To Ensure Success? While a large proportion of administrators agreed that additional instructional and staff support. In addition. it is too early to have a clear indication of whether this will in fact be the case. stakes may not be high 57 . reduced class size. the stakes are particularly high for students with learning disabilities. Inclusive programming. such as paraprofessionals. There is more to gain from a secondary curriculum than reading and math skills. For those students for whom it does interfere in appropriate programming as determined by their transition plan. there are mixed perceptions about whether this will limit their course selection or access to vocational programming. they are outside of the only legally dictated system of supports that will aid their transition to adulthood. Will Graduation Exams Push Students out of School? Can We Maintain Individualized Programs? There is also overwhelming agreement that instructional materials will begin to more heavily resemble the content of the GQE examination. While resources are provided to schools in order to provide GQE remedial courses. suggesting that the exam will be a driving force in curricular changes. However. As noted earlier. would contribute to the success of students with learning disabilities on the GQE. Because students with learning disabilities are less likely to complete school than their peers. they are particularly vulnerable to the pressures surrounding passing of a graduation exam. the focus of a program is dictated by Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 The overwhelming majority of administrators feel that repeated failure on the GQE will contribute to students with learning disabilities leaving school before graduating. While administrators anticipate that students with learning disabilities will attend more remedial GQE-related courses. Currently.Graduation Qualifying Examinations standards imposed by the state rather than the transition planning team.

the issues raised by this study clearly have serious implications for students with learning disabilities and deserve further research and careful scrutiny as we head more deeply into the realm of high-stakes assessment.. P. (1991).: National Academy Press. High stakes: Testing for tracking. (1990). consistent standards is meant to encourage improved education for lower-achieving students. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . D. Hendrick. ED 339 168). 250–259. They also only represent the experience in Indiana’s schools of the introduction of a graduation exam requirement that focuses only on reading/language arts and mathematics and may not translate to the experience of other states. 1998.Graduation Qualifying Examinations enough to encourage a school to refocus resources and priorities to meet the needs of a small proportion of students likely to drop out of school altogether. F. 160–167. I. Cawley. Washington.. Linn. G. Cross-sectional comparisons of the mathematical performance of children with learning disabilities: Are we on the right track toward comprehensive programming? Journal of Learning Disabilities.. and graduation. Unpublished survey. (1999). K. W.. CO: Love Publishing. D. Herman. Conclusions The increased prevalence of high-stakes testing poses both challenges and opportunities for educators of students with learning disabilities. high stakes testing. (2000) Assessments and accountability.. 301–313... VA: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. 29(2). Department of Education. L. A study of minimum competency tests and their impact: Final report. it can’t be assumed that secondary general education will transform to the extent that students with learning disabilities will be better educated than they currently are by special education programs. Los Angeles: Center for Research and Improvement. Teaching adolescents with learning disabilities: strategies and methods. Despite these limitations. MacMillan. R.. K. & McAfee. R.. Heubert. Goodman. (1988). MacMillan. 15(3). H.).in. as indicated by administrators’ responses. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. However. While setting minimum. (1993). Learning Disabilities Research and Practice. D. Balow. (1998a). 22.. & Hemsley. Borthwick-Duffy. 20–36. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. findings should certainly be viewed with caution. & Golan. Gajar. Widaman. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. Manset. (1998).. (1992). Hidden youth: Dropouts from special education. Educational Researcher. The Journal of Special Education. these standards may represent unrealistic expectations for many students with disabilities. Manset. L. & Miller.. (2000) Equity through accountability?: Mandating minimum competency exit exams for secondary students with learning disabilities.us. 10(4).. D. J. U. Exceptional Children at Risk: CEC Mini Library. promotion. MacMillan. D. I. J. In some cases.. Denver. A. (2nd ed. K–12 school data. however. Indiana Department of Education. G. (1989). J. Symbolic validation: The case of state-mandated. 58 References Airasian. R. & Washburn. S. 26. & Lenz. Deschler. Available from the Indiana Department of Education web site: http://dew. R. Ellis. I. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. & Hauser. Widaman. Special education students exiting the educational system. E. & Hemsley. J. ED 360 803).S. S. (1996). rather than concrete evidence. Because the data here represent administrators’ perceptions.C. ED 341 738).. Balow. Indiana University-Bloomington. D.. no administrator or teacher will lose their job as a consequence of students with learning disabilities not passing this examination. K. J.. In other words.state.doe. EXIT Survey for directors of special education (DSE-EXIT). Secondary schools and beyond: Transition of individuals with mild disabilities. S. S. Reston. S. B. 4–16. M. they may serve as the impetus for increasing the accessibility of the mainstream curriculum for secondary students with LD. Effects of standardized testing on teachers and learning—another look. & Washburn. (1990).

Sandra Washburn. Smith. & Dougherty. Indiana University. Ph. 10th Street. L.. ED 3220. (1994).. A. 2853 E. Thurlow. C. Bloomington. Bloomington. Minnesota: National Center on Educational Outcomes. Learning disabilities: The interdependence of learner.umn. S. M. E. Educational Researcher. task. is an associate professor of special education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Indiana University. (3rd ed. Indiana University-Bloomington. (1995). School of Education. L. G.edu..coled. Effects of highstakes testing on instruction.edu/NCEO/ OnlinePubs/Synthesis20. L.. IN 47408.html. 20.). C. Ysseldyke. 59 . Smith.. E-mail: swashbur@indiana. E-mail: gmwill@indiana. 8–11.A. K. High school graduation requirements: What’s happening for students with disabilities? Report No. J. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 About the Authors Genevieve Manset-Williamson.. EXIT Survey for principals (P-EXIT). Indiana 47405. L. (1991). 20(5). ED 337 468). (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. M. C. & Anderson. Unpublished survey. Put it to the test: The effects of external testing on teachers. and setting. M.edu. R. (1991). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Shepard. is a research associate at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University. (1998b).D.Graduation Qualifying Examinations Manset. & Washburn. [online] Available: http://www.

” I wish I had known then what I have learned since that time.. special educators are about ten times more likely to transfer to general education than the reverse (Boe et al. the teacher shortage Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . special education teachers are significantly more likely than general educators to transfer to other teaching positions (Boe et al. Attrition rates are estimated to be at about seven percent for those who transfer to other positions and about six percent for those who exit their positions (Boe. The shortage of special education teachers has not lessened over the last two decades. “What's wrong? Special education teachers are leaving in droves. Carlson (2001) found that administrators indicated that a shortage of qualified applicants is the greatest barrier to finding special educators. Recently. early career teachers are at the greatest risk of leaving. However. 2002). Unfortunately. Grissmer and Kirby (1987) showed that teacher attrition patterns for both general and special educators followed a U-shaped curve. • Efforts to increase teacher retention must be informed by an understanding of the factors that contribute to attrition. teacher attrition is a major contributor to the teacher shortage problem. ne of the greatest challenges I faced as a supervisor of special education in the 1980s was recruiting and retaining qualified special education teachers. who would later compete for positions in the better paying and more desirable suburban districts that surrounded us. Sometimes I felt like we were the training ground for new special educators. Recent data suggest that roughly O 60 ten percent of current special educators are not qualified for their positions (Council for Exceptional Children. Today. Ed.Improving Special Education Teacher Retention Implications from a Decade of Research Bonnie S. 1998).. often after just a few years of teaching. Further. 2000). more than 12.000 special educators were newly hired.249 special educators in the 1999–2000 school year.000 special education positions were left vacant or filled by a substitute because of the lack of suitable candidates. and predictions are that shortages will grow worse (Smith et al. Virginia Tech • The shortage of special education teachers threatens the quality of education that is provided to students with disabilities. 1999. Local school administrators reported job openings for 69. Billingsley. lower attrition for teachers during the middle career years. since these teachers must be replaced. Although general and special educators exit teaching at similar rates. Barkanic. over 50. & Leow. As of October. 1998).. an administrator in the urban system that employed me asked. • Eight recommendations to improve special educators' work environments and increase retention are provided. that young. and higher levels again as teachers reach retirement age. and approximately 30% of beginning teachers are not certified for their main assignments (Billingsley.D. securing a qualified special education teaching force remains a major challenge for many school districts. Special education teachers in our urban system were relatively young and inexperienced compared to the established cadre of general educators. 1999). 2002a). • Attrition plays a part in the teacher shortage problem. But age wasn't the only factor. with high levels of attrition among younger teachers. At one point. As Ingersoll (2001) suggests. at the same time.

and Smith (1999) reported that uncertified teachers were more likely to leave than beginning special educators. In a recent study of beginning special educators. reducing the frequency with which children are taught by a successive stream of novice teachers may be one step toward improving educational quality (p. Brownell & Smith. Carlson and Billingsley (2001) reported that uncertified special educators were more likely to indicate plans to leave. Geis. We know that teachers leave for many different kinds of reasons.000 Florida special education teachers. Bobbitt. 1993). teacher qualifications. Cook. 61 . such as cash bonuses and placement at a higher step of the salary schedule (Carlson & Billingsley. (1999) and Singer (1993) also found that special educators with higher paying jobs were more likely to stay than those who earned lower salaries.Improving Special Education Teacher Retention problem will not be solved by recruiting thousands of new people into teaching if. the focus of this paper is on work environment factors that influence attrition and retention. Hire certified teachers Certified teachers are more likely to stay or express intent to stay than those who are not certified. including personal. Henke. after a few short years. Miller et al. and work-related factors (see Billingsley. Further. Murnane and colleagues (1988) state: Prior research indicates that teachers make marked gains in effectiveness during their first years in the classroom. 343). Boe. Researchers in the 1990s began investigating factors that are related to attrition in larger-scale studies using more comprehensive conceptual models (Billingsley. Miller. Another possible reason that certified teachers may be more likely to stay is that they are better able to address the needs of students with disabilities. In a study of over 1. However. 2001). Although a range of factors influence attrition. therefore feeling successful and reaping the intrinsic rewards associated with special education teaching. Teachers with higher salaries are more likely to stay than those who receive lower salaries. demographic. (1997) reported that for a national sample of special and general educators. Many districts use financial incentives to recruit teachers. some of which are unrelated to work. moving and leaving decreased as salary increased. in another study. salaries do have equity implications. Brownell. and Weber (1997) reported that turnover was associated with not being fully certified in their main assignment for special and general educators combined. for a recent review of the literature). Two national studies reported similar results. Those teachers who are not fully certified may still be looking for positions that match their educational background. Consequently. 2002b. Boe et al. We do not necessarily know why fully certified teachers are more likely to stay. Whitener. (1997) suggest that those districts and schools who cannot offer competitive salaries are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to hiring and retaining teachers. Chen. This paper is organized around eight major recommendations for policy-makers and administrators. Choy. Billingsley (2002a) Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 reported that beginning special education teachers who were not certified were more likely to indicate intent to leave than those who were certified. Boe and colleagues (1999) found that being a partly certified teacher was associated with a higher level of switching. many of them leave. One reason may be that certified teachers have greater initial commitment since they completed the necessary requirements to earn certification. Use salaries and bonuses as incentives to remain Teachers with higher salaries are more likely to stay than those who receive lower salaries. Henke et al. than their certified counterparts. Teacher retention is important not just because of the difficulty of finding replacements but because it must also be a priority to improve the quality of services for students with disabilities. and Alt (1997) suggest that compensation is important for teachers weighing the “tangible and intangible costs and benefits of remaining in the teaching field or in a particular district or school” (VI-I). 1993.

School climate is influenced by a range of variables. researchers found that when teachers judged their school/district as an overall good place to work. developing and monitoring IEPs. Billingsley. 2000).g. taking an interest in the teacher) was perceived as most important to special educators. SPeNSE. 1997). Educational leaders are in a position to facilitate the development of collegial and supportive environments (Singh & Billingsley. showing appreciation. Induction programs need to address the specific support needs of beginning teachers. 2000). making accommodations for instruction and testing. and indicate that they can get through to even the most difficult students” (Billingsley 2002a. 1996. This suggests that attention must be given to both the administrator- Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . 2000). They also found that emotional support and instrumental support (e. Important to the development of a positive school climate is reciprocity of support among special and general educators. p. Griffin. paraprofessionals.Improving Special Education Teacher Retention Develop responsive induction programs to support beginning special educators One of the most important actions that administrators can take to reduce attrition is to provide support during the early stages of special educators' careers when they are most likely to leave. Recent studies show that special educators view informal assistance as more helpful than more formalized mechanisms (A High-Quality Teacher for Every Classroom. Beginners who receive “higher levels of support are more likely than those with lower levels of support to see their roles as manageable. 1998). and time for teaching) correlated positively with both job satisfaction and school commitment. Littrell. including the extent to which administrators and colleagues support one another in their teaching efforts. 2002a). Overall. One of the most important actions that administrators can take to reduce attrition is to provide support during the early stages of special educators' careers when they are most likely to leave. SPeNSE. and collaborating with teachers. Induction programs can help provide support to teachers with these challenging tasks (Rosenberg. even if those mentors are in other buildings (Whitaker. 1998). and also help to reduce attrition (Whitaker. helping teachers secure needed resources. 1996. and other service-providers (Billingsley. 1992. Whitaker.. 5). Boyer & Gillespie. Although administrators do have critical roles in supporting teachers. Another important aspect of supporting beginning teachers is to pair them with more experienced special education mentors. Darling-Hammond & Sclan. Billingsley. This may be particularly true for the high percentage of novice teachers who are not qualified for the positions that they hold (Billingsley. Kilgore. Create positive work environments and systems of support Research results in general and special education suggest that the climate of the school is important to special education teacher attrition and plans to leave (A High-Quality Teacher for Every Classroom. 2002b). paraprofessionals. parents. such as managing paperwork and federal and state demands. 2000. Since beginning teachers indicate the need for emotional support 62 (Gold. although we do not know why this is the case. Special educators face numerous responsibilities for which they may not be adequately prepared. Whitaker. 1999). Miller et al. and Cross (1994) found that emotional support (e. these informal contacts may also better foster these types of interactions.. administrators.. it is limiting to think of support as something that one person provides and another receives. & Carpenter. and other service providers (Billingsley & Tomchin. 1996). The early career period is often characterized as a “survival” period in which optimism gives way to discouragement and disillusionment (Gold. establishing open communication. 2002. 2002. 2000). Increase the level and quality of administrative support Defining administrative support is difficult since it is a global construct with many different dimensions. they were more likely to stay in teaching.g. 2002a. space. believe that they are successful in providing education to students with disabilities. Kilgore & Griffin.

For example. Gersten et al. Smith. Gersten. Pyecha. Yovanoff. CEC. 2001. 1996). McNellis. (1999) also found that stayers gave higher scores for building level administrative support than leavers. Brownell. George. development opportunities also experienced less role dissonance. 1996). & Lenk. Singh & Billingsley. Gersten et al. & Blake. Smith-Davis. In a national study of teachers. 1994–95. Westling & Whitten. they do not reliably incorporate best practices. Morvant et al. & Harniss. 1995. and change over time as professional needs change” (p. Billingsley. 2001. 522). 1995). “whenever teachers were given an open-ended opportunity to express concerns. and less stress (Cross & Billingsley. 1995. such as engaging teachers in the learning process or allowing time to plan how to implement new skills. Although more of the attrition studies specifically address the relationship of the principal to attrition. Many special educators do not see their roles as manageable. in their threeyear study. (1995) reported that. Brownell et al. & Miller. be systematic. (1999) reported that those who stay in their positions are almost four times more likely than leavers to strongly perceive administrators' behavior as supportive and encouraging. although school districts support staff development (special educators averaged 59 hours of professional development activities in 1999–2000). found that professional development opportunities had an indirect effect on teachers' intent to leave and a direct influence on teachers' commitment to the profession. 2000... 1997. In a study of teacher attrition in three urban systems.. 1994. 1994–95. Morvant. 1993. regardless of the type of methodology used in the study (Billingsley & Cross. Administrators need to take time to listen to teachers and assist them with their needs. A recent national study (A High-Quality Teacher for Every Classroom. George et al. 1995). such as paperwork and meetings. Schnorr (1995) found that 71% of special educators indicated that paperwork is a major deterrent to teaching in special education. 1991. 2002). greater job satisfaction and commitment. Professional development is critical to teachers' involvement and growth. McNellis. Gillman. Quicho and Rios (2000) discuss the need for responsive professional development opportunities for teachers and suggest that they “be directed toward professional nurturing. & Hendricks. 1991. Murray. The context of the working situation is important to determining what specific supports are needed. and role overload has been linked to attrition. Boe et al. SPeNSE. helping their students learn. 63 . Role overload can lead to role conflict or dissonance. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 Structure teachers’ roles so they can focus on student learning Teachers are motivated by a primary goal— helping their students learn... Gersten et al. High levels of principal support are associated with fewer role problems. perhaps more than any other factor (Billingsley. 1995.g. Special educators who perceived greater professional The most widely documented source of role overload is clearly the paperwork associated with special education teaching (e.Improving Special Education Teacher Retention teacher relationship and the specific ways that administrators assist teachers.. Foster professional development to encourage teacher effectiveness Teachers are motivated by a primary goal— Educational leaders can also support teachers by facilitating their professional development. found that.. 1996). Gersten. George. several studies suggest that the lack of support of central administrators also contributes to attrition (Billingsley & Cross. Billingsley et al. Billingsley et al. Bodkins. & Hendricks. Billingsley. Keating. but it appears to influence retention as well (Brownell.. Keating. Gersten & Grosenick. Schnorr (1995) reports that the number-one-rated incentive to stay in special education was a supportive principal (88%). 2001. meaning that special educators feel tension between the bureaucratic requirements they must fill and the teaching tasks they feel are most important. Westling & Whitten. 2002b). 1995. Miller et al. Smith. 1995. Morvant et al. Special educators' efforts to help their students are thwarted when their time becomes dominated by nonteaching tasks. The relationship between administrative support and teacher retention is strong.

21). 551). FL: University of Florida. qualifications. and experiences. 7. Gersten et al. 2002. The most important actions that school districts can take to reduce attrition is to hire qualified teachers. References Billingsley. with all it entails. 27(2). 1999).14). SPeNSE Factsheet. administrators should also consider helping teachers to mediate the effects of stress. reasonable role expectations. B. Cross & Billingsley. special education professionals can manage in order to accomplish their main objective—enhancing students’ academic. Morvant et al.Improving Special Education Teacher Retention paperwork was sure to emerge as one of their greatest frustrations” (p. It is important to emphasize that role overload and conflict are not usually the result of a single problem. (2001) pose practical questions for those interested in designing reasonable role expectations: “Does the job. and problems implementing inclusion (Billingsley & Cross.spense. (2002a). 1995). Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education. from www. Retrieved March. 1996) and attrition (Billingsley & Cross. Cooley and Yovanoff (1996) found that stress management workshops and a peer collaboration program increased job satisfaction and organizational commitment and reduced burnout among special educators. Miller et al. (1993). dissatisfaction. the less manageable their jobs were perceived as being. the more paperwork that teachers reported. SPeNSE. (1995) state that “multiple problems interact and create what teachers sometimes view as stressful. Moreover. The Challenge The research on attrition and retention clearly points to specific areas that will improve work conditions as well as increase retention. it should lead to better outcomes for students with disabilities as well. interacting.. researchers found that the typical special educator reported spending five hours per week on paperwork. since they are the most likely to leave. It is especially important to focus on early career special educators. 1991. Billingsley. In a recent study. pay them well. 1992. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . (2002b). A critical review of the literature. S. It is time to address the challenge of creating better work environments for special educators. Research suggests that stress is clearly related to both burnout (Cooley & Yovanoff. and they must be able to focus their attention on helping their students succeed. B. B. Provide programs to help teachers deal with work stress The combination of multiple. 137–174. Chronic work problems can lead to stress. 7. make sense? Is it feasible? Is it one that well-trained. and opportunities for professional growth. Attention to these eight recommendations should not only improve attrition. lack of support) clearly weakens teachers' ability to be effective and therefore reduces their opportunities for the positive intrinsic rewards. In addition to efforts to create supportive environments and reduce role problems. 1994. Gainesville. and create work environments that are characterized by supportive relationships. lack of resources. In a recent report on paperwork (Paperwork in Special Education. overwhelming work situations” (p. …The more paperwork that teachers reported. role overload. S. Other role-related problems that have been linked to attrition include high numbers of students on caseload. S. the less manageable their jobs were perceived as being..org. Billingsley. Special Education Teacher Retention and Attrition: A Critical Analysis of the Literature. The Journal of Special Education. interested. Special educators need to feel that their work is meaningful. and reduced organizational 64 and professional commitment. Billingsley et al. social. and vocational competence”? (p. Carlson and Billingsley (2001) reported that teachers who planned to leave as soon as possible were significantly more likely to teach students with four or more different primary disabilities (42%).g. Beginning special educators: Characteristics. compared to all special education teachers (32%). Teacher retention and attrition in special and general education. workrelated problems (e. 2002)..

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Since passage of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act in 1975. and social workers. 1983). 1997. Kansas State University Manhattan. the number of students enrolled in both general and special education teacher preparation programs has decreased in recent years (Center & Callaway. 1992). Like other social services professionals. • Differences exist in perceptions of support by teachers in urban. and suburban locales. Whelan. Ph. Cook. 1999). • There is a relationship between burnout and teachers’ perceptions of support from administrators and parents.. such as nurses. In addition.. Attrition of trained teachers has exacerbated teacher shortages. to teach students with disabilities. partly due to expanding employment opportunities outside of education for the traditional cohort group for teachers. Those analyses suggested that younger. 1982. 1993). and in some instances even as general educators. hortages of special education personnel have been persistent (Boe. Fimian.D. less educated special education teachers experienced greater burnout than older. which allow persons without preparation as special educators. the incidence of burnout was correlated with student category (EBD and ECSE were highest. National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education. even these changes have not met personnel needs. Bobbitt. Since the early 1980s. special education teachers’ intense involvement with persons who have psychological. physicians.g. gifted was lowest) and service delivery model (the most restrictive setting [institutional] and the least restrictive setting [consulting] produced the highest burnout scores).. many special education teachers have moved to general education positions. less experienced. there have been examinations of the influence of job-related stress and burnout on special educators (e. or physical challenges places them at risk for professional burnout. Brownell & Smith. With increased job opportunities in general education. more educated teachers. It appears that “. including the aforementioned alternative professional opportunities. p. 1999. Zabel. 1986. Kansas • Shortages of special education teachers are exacerbated by professional burnout. Greer & Greer.. & Zabel. 1997. Although teachers leave the field for a variety of reasons. social. 1993. CEC. 1993) and result from several forces that affect the number of teachers prepared and retained in the field. and Mary Kay Zabel. & Terhanian. the number of teachers needed for students with disabilities has out paced supply..Burnout Among Special Education Teachers and Perceptions of Support Robert H. 67 . 10). the role of job-related stress and professional burnout in attrition is an on-going concern. • Special education administrators need to provide explicit support for special education teachers.D. At the same time. and fewer prospective teachers are choosing special education as an alternative. 1995. most states grant emergency and/or conditional endorsements (Boe et al. Smith-Davis & Billingsley. Smith-Davis & Billingsley. However. more experienced. particularly in locales where other sources of support are less apparent. rural. An early study examined the effect of a number of personal and job-related factors on the experience of burnout by over 600 special education teachers (Zabel & Zabel. In response to shortages of trained special education teachers. police officers.the most essential challenge for special education in the 21st century is to attract and retain S Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 potentially competent special educators” (Simpson. 1993. Ph.

.g. In the current sample. Miller. Within six weeks 301 (71. a follow-up was sent to nonrespondents. They are also 68 more likely to supervise paraeducators. Although the mean number of years of regular teaching experience decreased slightly (from 3. A recent replication of the early study revealed some markedly different characteristics among today’s special educators (Zabel & Zabel. experience. Now. In the earlier study. Because of these changes and the concern over shortages of special educators. and the amount of preparation increased markedly between the two studies. About 70% of special education teachers now have masters degrees. the influence of teachers’ urban. A consistent pattern was that greater burnout was reported by teachers who gave lower ratings of support from all three sources. 45% of special educators were under the age of 30. 1994. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . the amount of special education teaching experience. certification status. amount of regular/special teaching experience. and preparation of special education teachers would be expected to enhance the quality of programs for students with disabilities. & Smith. and 64% are over 40 years of age. Mental Retardation. because teachers often have different roles and responsibilities according to their school locale. and to be supervised by both general education and special education administrators. and the colleagues with whom they work. or suburban school location on both burnout and support was also examined.Special Education Burnout and Support The study also revealed clear relationships between teacher burnout and support from others. Singer. Another report (Zabel & Zabel. the amount of special education teaching experience.7 to 2. and Interrelated. Teachers in low incidence classifications were not included in the current study because their numbers were too small to permit statistical analyses. One of the most pervasive changes has been the increase of inclusionary service delivery models. in the 20 years since the first study was published. 2001) using these data has emphasized the influence of the participant’s age. school locale. special education has matured into an integral feature of public education. teachers in Interrelated programs comprise the largest classification. 2001). Brownell. where special education teachers operate in collaborative roles with general education teachers and administrators. 1993).3 to 11. the authors believed it was time to reexamine the relationships between burnout and support.9 years). and just 24% were over the age of 40. however. Early Childhood Special Education. Subsequent studies of burnout among special educators have generally supported those findings (e. Fimian. just 14% are under 30. Interrelated (multicategorical). However. to work with team teachers. The increased age. Method Participants Questionnaires were mailed to 420 current special education teachers selected from Kansas State Board of Education records. This return rate was nearly as high as the 78. Cross & Billingsley. This report analyzes the relationships between burnout and perceptions of support from others in the context of teachers’ service delivery model. especially from administrators but also from other teachers and students’ parents.4%) completed questionnaires were returned. compared to 59% in the earlier study. the aging of the profession suggests that the already inadequate supply of qualified special educators may be exacerbated by attrition due to retirements over the next 10–15 years. rural. Three weeks after the initial mailing. and amount of professional preparation on the three dimensions of burnout. teacher age. And. 1986. For example.6% (n = 601) in the earlier study and provided a representative sample that was sufficient to perform relevant statistical analyses. Learning Disabilities.0 years). In Kansas. teachers are listed according to the classification of students with whom they are reported to be working. The last of these. and the amount of preparation increased markedly between the two studies. Equal numbers (n = 70) were randomly selected from each of the six largest classifications—Behavior Disorders. 1999. the amount of special education teaching experience increased dramatically (from 5. teacher age. Also. Gifted. For example. was not included in the earlier study because it was not a common classification at that time.

4% for teachers of students with BD to 77. other). team teachers). amount of professional preparation. In the first section were questions about themselves. scores on the EE.) Results Participants Of the 301 returned questionnaires. and the colleagues with whom they work (paraeducators. The MBI-ES is a reliable.Special Education Burnout and Support Questionnaire Participant characteristics. In addition.” The Personal Accomplishment (PA) subscale includes statements such as “I deal very effectively with the problems of my students” and “I have accomplished many worthwhile things in this job.52.. resource. rural. p = . how do you rate the support provided by your school administrators? Overall. participants were asked to characterize the locale of their school(s) as urban. consulting. age level of the majority of their students (early childhood. including their primary service delivery model (selfcontained. p = . Most participants were 69 . and amount of experience in both general and special education. middle school. and PA subscales reflect points along a continuum. Return rates from the six disability classification groups were similar and ranged from 61.0001) and negative correlations between the both the EE and PA (r = -. there was a positive correlation between composite scores on the EE and DP subscales (r = . Burnout measure. 3 = ok.1% for teachers of students who are gifted. 6=Every Day).e. Composite scores on the EE and DP subscales of the MBI-ES are positively correlated with one another and both are negatively correlated with PA subscale scores (Maslach. itinerant. 1996). There are no cut-off scores on the MBI-ES to indicate an educator is burned out. primary.e. how do you rate the support provided by your special education administrators? Overall.” Respondents indicate the frequency of their feelings about each item on a 7-point Likert-type scale (i. The MBI-ES consists of 22 statements reflecting personal feelings and attitudes about one’s job conditions. and 5 = poor). participants were asked: Overall. The MBI-ES consists of 22 statements reflecting personal feelings and attitudes about one’s job conditions. 4 = below average. how do you rate the support provided by your students’ parents? Ratings were recorded on a Likert-type scale (i. 0=Never.. Minor adaptations made to the MBI by the researchers (e.g. certification status. The Emotional Exhaustion (EE) subscale includes statements such as “I feel emotionally drained from my work” and “I feel frustrated by Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 my job. & Leiter.0001) subscales.0001) and the DP and PA (r = -. Jackson. valid measure of three dimensions of professional burnout—emotional exhaustion. & Leiter.32. and personal accomplishment—that has been widely used by researchers in education and other fields to measure professional burnout (Maslach. 2 = above average. The MBI-ES is an updated version of the instrument used in the earlier study. Also. three were from persons who were not currently in teaching roles.” The Depersonalization (DP) subscale includes statements such as “I’ve become more callous toward people since I took this job” and “I don’t really care what happens to some students.27. The second section of the questionnaire was the Maslach Burnout Inventory Educators Survey (MBI-ES). p = . & Leiter. Jackson. how do you rate the support provided by other teachers? Overall. Recipients of the questionnaire were asked to respond to questions included in two sections. Rather. including age. high school). Higher scores on the EE and DP subscales and lower scores on the PA subscale indicate greater burnout. 1996). 1996). DP. 1 = excellent. or suburban. (In these and other statistical analyses an alpha of . lower scores on the EE and DP subscales and higher scores on the PA subscale indicate less burnout (Maslach. resulting in an effective sample of 298.. depersonalization. In this study. intermediate. Jackson.05 was considered significant. changes in terminology from “recipient” to “student”) had subsequently been incorporated into the Educators version. These were deleted. They were asked about conditions of their jobs.

Depersonalization was also negatively correlated with support from three potential sources: school administrators (r = -.02) for parents.8%.9%).8% work with both paraeducator(s) and team teacher(s). To determine if there were differences in support ratings according to the source of support. mean ratings of support ranged from a high of 2.. middle school—26.28).7 59. p = .29 (SD = 1. while just 11.0003).8%.9% work with neither paraeducator(s) nor team teacher(s). three did not indicate race/ethnicity) or because they provided multiple responses to single response questions.0005). 26.18.26. an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was conducted. Burnout and Support from Others To examine relationships between the three burnout subscales and ratings of support.4 23. different response patterns were apparent. 35% said it was suburban. 5 = poor).9% said it was urban.4%.5%.4 76. and parents (r = -.28. p = . special education administrators (r = -. special education administrators (r = -.0 20.1%) than any of the other groups.26). Personal Accomplishment was positively correlated with support from all four sources: school administrators (r = .28.0001).002). Support from Others On the 5-point scale (1 = excellent. other teachers (r = . special education administrators (r = . primary15.35.61 (SD = 1. which also requires regular teaching certification in this state. p = . Emotional Exhaustion was negatively correlated with support from school administrators (r = -. and parents (r = -.2 16. special education administrators.8%) work with paraeducator(s). and other—9.Special Education Burnout and Support Caucasian (95.5 11.0001). However. p = . There were no significant differences in the ratings of support for school administrators. other teachers (r = -.19) for school administrators to a low of 2. Below Average/Poor 70 School Administrators Special Ed Administrators Teachers Parents 60.” A majority (61.7 22. there was no significant correlation between DP and support from teachers. p = . and parents (r = -.4%. However.5% work with team teacher(s) only.9%).0001). intermediate—15. consulting/itinerant—15.0001).0001). Although differences in the correlations between the burnout subscales and support from the four sources were not pronounced (see Table 2). Special education administrators received the most high ratings (76. resource— 42.4% said it was “other. 9.8% of participants.. and parents (r = .8%.g. Support from other teachers was rated high by 68. either because participants did not answer (e.24) were somewhat higher than between EE and support Table 1: Percent of above average and below average ratings of support Source of Support Ratings Excellent/Above Average O. but fewer school administrators (60.004). Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated.028).22.13. the negative correlations between EE and support from school administrators (r = -.1%.1 68.7% gave other teachers low ratings of support. 21. 36. although there were a few missing responses to some items. p = .0 18.3%) females (85.2%. a majority of participants rated the support high (“excellent” or “above average”) from each potential source. when the percent of those who gave high ratings was compared with those who gave low ratings (“below average” or “poor”). p = . p = .2%. Age level of respondents’ students were as follows: early childhood—17. and students’ parents. In addition. p = .7% said it was rural. p = .3 Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 .6% were currently fully endorsed (certified) in special education.8 19. These correlations were statistically significant in all but one instance.19. as shown in Table 1. and high school—24. In response to the question about their school locale. other teachers. p = . and 90. and just 6. Participants’ primary service delivery models were as follows: self-contained—32. and 1. Most respondents answered all questions.035).K.13.22.9 3.4%) and parents (59. Special education administrators also received more low ratings (20. special education administrators (r = .7%) received high ratings.21.

or neither on their ratings of support from all sources-school administrators (p = .0003) teachers. and parents (p = .014) or urban teachers (p = .21** -. school administrators.22** .26*** -. though not significantly. with suburban teachers rating them higher than either rural (p = . Teachers who work with team teachers rated support from other teachers higher than teachers who work with paraeducators only (p = .044). other teachers (p = . Special education administrators were rated higher by teachers who work with both team teachers and paraeducators and with neither team teachers nor paraeducators than by those who work with paraeducators only (p = .012 and p = . Suburban teachers’ ratings of support from other teachers were marginally. special education administrators (p = .02. respectively).28*** *** probability < .03) or self-contained (p = . School administrators were rated higher by those who work with team teachers and those who work with both paraeducators and team teachers than by teachers who work only with paraeducators (p = . Rural teachers rated parent support marginally.026).054) or urban teachers (p = . though not significantly.032). higher than either rural (p = .35*** .19).038 and p = . rural. respectively). 71 .13* Teachers Parents -. suburban) an Analysis of Variance was conducted.03).001 ** p < .003.016).015. respectively).05 from teachers (r = -. with suburban teachers again rating parent support higher than either rural (p = .03) or urban (p = . The highest negative correlations between DP and support were for parents (r = -.038) teachers.0003).09). Both consulting/itinerant and resource teachers considered parents more supportive than did teachers in self-contained programs (p = ..28*** -.01 * p < .016). both paraeducators and team teachers. urban. Locale had no significant effect on ratings of support from special education administrators.0002 and p = . with both paras and team teachers (p = .13* .22*** -. team teachers. higher than urban teachers (p = .002). other teachers. Support According to Whom Teacher Works With ANOVAs also indicated significant main effects according to whether participants work with paraeducators.18** -.001). and students’ parents Burnout Measure Ratings Source of Support School Administrators Emotional Exhaustion Depersonalization Personal Accomplishment Special Ed Administrators -. Consulting/itinerant teachers rated special Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 education administrators higher than did either resource (p = . Support According to Service Delivery Model ANOVAs also revealed significant effects of the service delivery model on participants’ ratings of support. Support According to School Locale To determine if ratings of support differed according to participants’ school locale (i. PA was most highly correlated with support from parents (r = . The ANOVA indicated a significant main effect for support from school administrators (p = .28) and least correlated with support from special education administrators (r = .35) and school administrators (r = -.e. or with neither (p = .22). There was a significant main effect of school locale on participants’ ratings of parent support (p = .001).19** -. Resource teachers’ ratings of support from other teachers were higher than those of self-contained teachers (p = .13).07 (NS) .014).058).Special Education Burnout and Support Table 2: Correlations between burnout measures and ratings of support from special education administrators.

Some teachers may experience job-related stress for reasons unrelated to support from others (e. rural teachers also rate their support higher than urban teachers.Special Education Burnout and Support Those who work with team teachers also rated parent support higher than did teachers who work with paraeducators only (p = . It is also uncertain exactly what special educators consider “support” from each of the potential sources. one would expect that teachers who believe they receive insufficient support from supervisors. However. participants’ ratings of support covaried significantly with all three subscales of the MBI-ES. personnel. 18% of parents. It is encouraging that. and other resources than either rural or suburban schools. that support from special education administrators and parents would be conceptualized differently. a smaller. there were no significant differences in mean ratings of support from each source. a closer examination did reveal differences in the distribution of ratings for each source of support. even though low ratings were given to just 12% of teachers.9) given high ratings. support ratings of special education administrators represent a somewhat bi-modal distribution. While a major difference between suburban districts and their rural/urban counterparts is financial resources. participants gave high marks to all four potential sources of support—school administrators. and 20% of special education administrators. In some cases. for example. Given this relationship.. it may be that support also reflects attitudes. Fewer school administrators. Urban. A major finding was that suburban teachers tend to judge the support from others more favorably than rural and. and very few (3%) rated average. Does lack of support contribute to burnout or does burnout influence perceptions of support from others? Another unanswered question is the correspondence between perceived and real support. as a group. and parents are more likely to suffer the effects of professional burnout—diminished performance and attrition from the field. and students’ parents. It is likely. other teachers. but relatively high percentage (20. rural. inappropriate expectations about their own and others’ roles) but may blame others for those problems. colleagues. Although a majority of special educators believe they are well-supported by colleagues and parents. and parents were considered to provide either high or low levels of support. these numbers are cause for concern. These differences confirmed the researchers’ expectations based on first-person reports from teachers in these different locales. because perceived lack of support is closely related to teacher burnout. especially.” In fact.g. The clear finding that administrative support is a major factor in reducing teacher burnout. For example. Perceptions of less support were significantly corre- 72 lated with both greater emotional exhaustion and depersonalization and with a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.” However. and suburban differences. For the sample as a whole. special education administrators.1) rated low. coupled with urban/rural teachers’ perceptions of less Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . urban teachers. It would be unreasonable to expect a “Lake Wobegon” effect where everyone is judged “above average.03) or with both paras and team teachers (p = . Because suburban schools tend to have more financial support. the sizable proportions who rated support below average or poor are a concern. It would be unreasonable to expect a “Lake Wobegon” effect where everyone is judged “above average. Discussion Major Findings Support and burnout. with a high percentage (76. Teachers who are more burned out may be less able to recognize existing support. 16% of school administrators. An unanswered question is whether there is a cause-effect relationship between support and burnout. Additional study is needed to determine exactly what special education teachers consider to be support from each of these potential sources. inadequate preparation for professional responsibilities.004). it is no surprise that suburban teachers consider their colleagues and parents as more supportive.03). And teachers who work with neither team teachers nor paraeducators rated parent support higher than those who work with both (p = . teachers.

(1982). K. Exceptional Children. Testing a model of special educators’ intent to stay in teaching. Remedial and Special Education. Schoolteacher: A sociological study. S. collaboration.. Exceptional Children.. H. (1993). Factors in burnout among teachers of exceptional children. L. as well as colleagues and parents. (1999). The shortage of fully certified teachers in special and general education.. H. S. Teacher Education and Special Education. Bobbitt. H. Retention.. & Smith. attrition) of special education teachers is to be reduced. Kansas State University. W. Center. 308 Bluemont Hall. B. (1996). Smith-Davis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 5(9). Self-reported job stress and personality in teachers of students with emotional or behavioral disorders. 1–21. Exceptional Children.. 15. Social support and occupational stress in special education. & Zabel. J. Burnout among special education teachers: Do age. 137–174. CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. or transferring from the special education classroom. (1975). D. R.. and preparation matter? Teacher Education and Special Education.. H. M. H. (1993). M. G.D. Teacher Education and Special Education. Are special educators’ career paths special? Results from a 13-year longitudinal study. (1983). 16. Kansas State University. KS 66506. Reston. Stopping burnout before it starts: Prevention measures at the preservice level. B. Special educators share their thoughts on special education teaching conditions. 255–259. M. Lortie. (2001). Mary Kay Zabel. 1975) to team member engaged in collaborative and cooperative arrangements. S. ED 389 158). This has been especially true for special educators. J. Teacher Education and Special Education. to explicitly communicate supportive attitudes to their teachers. (1995). & Smith. S. especially in those locales where support from other sources is missing. 1. S. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. 25. The need for special education and related services professionals: Some projections. 59. B. (1997). The Journal of Special Education. P. 7–12.. Manhattan. 168–174. National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education. M.. R. Greer. 14. (1993). and age. Miller. 270–282. Zabel. Teacher retention and attrition in special and general education: A critical review of the literature. 73 . Zabel. J. K. 41–51. 21. T. H.. 52. 201–218. transfer. Brownell.D. B.. Ph. M. 128–139. (1999). Factors that predict teachers staying in. 262–279. R. E. (1994). (1986). T. Understanding special education teacher attrition: A conceptual model and implications for teacher educators. The supply/demand puzzle. B. M. M. at least that teacher knew the primary source of his or her professional reinforcement—students.Special Education Burnout and Support support. (1993). VA: Council for Exceptional Children. Simpson. 6. J. R. & Greer.). & Terhanian.. & Zabel. & Billingsley. M. 16. support from special education and general education administrators. S. 261–263. & Billingsley. M. & Zabel. Burnout among special education teachers: The role of experience. 60. 24. is Professor and Chair of Special Education. E-mail: h2oski@ksu. Special education personnel preparation in the 21st century: Issues and strategies. W. The Council for Exceptional Children (1999. and supervision and less time in direct interaction with students. Palo Alto. S.edu.. E. Behavioral Disorders. R. 411–421. Boe. Maslach Burnout Inventory (3rd ed.. training. is Professor of Special Education. Cook. appears to be a key factor.. Cross. Whelan. & Callaway. 359 Bluemont Hall. A. leaving. Brownell.. If professional burnout (and its corollary. R. Zabel. potential reinforcement from that source may be less available.edu.. (1992). About the Authors Robert H. due to inclusion. rarely work in isolation or with their “own” students. Teacher Education and Special Education. Exceptional Children. A major change in the teaching profession over the past 20 years has been the shift from the “lonely teacher” (Lortie. D. C. 49. E-mail: mkz@ksu. Zabel.. 5. & Leiter. experience. Ph. and attrition of special and general teachers in national perspective. D. References Billingsley. Boe. G. L. Singer. who. should encourage administrators. & Zabel. (1995). Teacher Education and Special Education. 205–220. June/July). Jackson. K. J. (1993). Maslach. D. B.. 65. E. KS 66506. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 Fimian. L. As teachers spend more time in consultation. Exceptional Children. CEC Today. 436–432. Manhattan. While few mourn the passing of the solitary teacher. 27.

As a result of this lack of preparation. We must complement this training with in-service instruction for teachers currently in the field that syncs their learning with that of teachers entering the field. of teachers moving from special education to general education. The challenge is daunting to the most enlightened educator. reported by Bonnie Billingsley. more importantly. the answer was to seek a more restrictive environment. If we were A 74 not able to work with the children. General educators can and must become special educators in every sense of the word.Superintendent’s Commentary “May You Live in Interesting Times” Jennifer Esler Reeves. Ed. Orange County Public Schools. Educational reform has called on public educators to “leave no child behind. regardless of their academic goals. not curriculum. Rigorous standards demand that we look to include exceptional children in all classrooms where appropriate. special education teachers were loaded with multiple classroom and individual preparations to meet the requirements of the law with minimal support. Historically. All teachers must see themselves as teachers of exceptional children. We must begin with preservice training for all teachers that focuses on the recent advances in brain research and in understanding how children learn.” State requirements for graduation qualifying exams expect college entrance performance from all students. We can no longer afford to place special education programs in the back hall and expect that someone from the district office will work with those teachers and those students. In states like Florida. They hired certified teachers when they were available and uncertified when they were not to take on the responsibility of ensuring that the identified students received an appropriate education.D. special education students are increasingly mainstreamed into regular education classes where teachers may or may not have received the training to adequately teach them. Never in the history of mankind has so much been expected from so many with so little support. If we are to get serious about educating all children we have to stop looking at special education programs and begin focusing on the special needs of individual children. Every child. what language he speaks. or what learning difficulties he faces. we must train our administrators not only in special education law but. In fairness. Many times our most needy children were placed with the least qualified teachers. Ironically. To do this effectively will require that everyone who impacts the education of our children be better trained and supported in working with special populations. can be left awash in a sea of low expectations. This trend attributes to the shift. too many principals in regular education settings saw special education as a place to house the children who did not fit in regular education classes. Orlando. a more fitting axiom would be hard to find. in best practices in curriculum and behavioral sup- Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . Florida lthough the originator of the ancient curse “May you live in interesting times” couldn’t have envisioned public education in the 21st century. The good news in all of this is that “no child left behind” means just that. Second. most principals never received in their formal leadership training more than a cursory view of special education. and states defame schools that cannot produce successful graduates in four calendar years regardless of their circumstances. all high school students must attain a high level of performance without accommodation and regardless of their exceptionality or home language. no matter where he lives. and the primary focus of that training was law.

general educators and special educators must make the commitment to work collaboratively on behalf of all children. Parents of general education students may not understand why the exceptional students are included in the classroom. Colonial Drive. Improvement will require that we challenge our traditional thinking about what an exceptionality is and what limitations it should be allowed to place on our expectations of students. We must blur the lines of turf management between special education and general education departments in school districts. Practitioners believe in successful practice. most will strive to make it happen. If all of our children are to have an opportunity to participate fully in our society under the increased demands of accountability in our public schools. We have the opportunity. 75 . Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 Additional professional support is needed for principals and for all teachers working with parents of the exceptional child. Training in meaningful collaboration among parents and teachers would greatly improve our efficacy. we must have specialists available to promote the efficacy and resilience of the teachers in the classroom. All teachers must be helped to believe they are capable of exceeding traditional expectations. the professional consultation. most importantly. is the Area Superintendent for the Central Learning Community of the Orange County Public Schools. Anxious parents may come from many directions expecting specialized treatment and services for their exceptional children that may impact the quality of teaching available to the other students in the inclusive classroom. teachers. If we expect our principals to support our teachers we must first teach them what it is to appropriately teach all children.“May You Live in Interesting Times” port.net. Each student brings his own unique challenge to the classroom teacher. FL 32804. Principals and other leaders in schools live in demanding and fast-paced environments that leave less time for reflective practice than we would like to admit. Real improvement will require that we invigorate through our allocation of resources the training. we have a moral obligation to investigate our own practices. Too great a reliance on theory and not enough emphasis on practicality will defeat our efforts before they begin. we must provide the support to them to make it happen. and parents. but. Ed. behavioral support. E-mail: reevesj@ocps. With the appropriate support for principals.. Exposure to other demanding and fast-paced environments where challenging. When principals and teachers struggle with the challenge. Orlando. exceptional students are successfully included in mainstream classrooms will sell the plan better than any treatise or theory. About the Author Jennifer Esler Reeves. Programs must be developed at the university and district level to educate our leadership if they are to lead. to improve the education of special students in our public schools.D. No general preservice or in-service training can prepare a teacher for the complexities of including individual children with Down’s syndrome or autism or other complex issues in a classroom. If we expect our teachers to do what we believe is possible with these children. Specialists must be made available as needed to assist teachers with the modification of curriculum. especially if behaviors of the children are unique or potentially disruptive. as well as our special education teachers. 1200 W. many students have been successfully included in general classrooms in ways we never dreamed possible ten years ago. students. Once they understand what is possible. we must next look at the on-going training and support we give to all teachers who work with exceptional children as challenges arise in practice. Principals and teachers may need assistance striking a balance and even reconciling that all reasonable accommodations have been made. and assessment of student progress. as well as for parents of the other children in the classrooms where exceptional children are included. If we are to retain our regular education teachers. The general education professionals must believe that the experts that are brought in to assist them are capable of performing themselves the job that they are coaching others to do. if we have the will. We cannot be afraid to break the mold of traditional special education practices. and the specialized personnel allocations to meet the demands of inclusive practices in general education classrooms. Special and general educators must work together to make the training pragmatic and meaningful in the actual life of a school if it is to change practice within our schools.

94–142. but the legal requirements are constraining. topics such as “Am I allowed to say this to a parent?” And too often I hear. Whether it was the increase in number of forms to be completed or the unending threats by parents to pursue legal action. retention. Orange County Public Schools. and in filling out forms than on instructing students. in-service training. when the salary was only $12. teachers and. Being on the critical shortage list probably sounds better than being on the endangered species list. as an example. placing educators in the compromised position they find themselves in today. However. and locating teachers. Whether you have been in the field for thirty years or are just beginning. burnout. Orlando. let alone qualified teachers trained in special education. and attrition of personnel working in the field of special education have been well documented in the literature.L. Too often teachers are spending more time in IEP meetings. I have yet to hear a school district proclaim that they have not had to struggle at some point in time with personnel issues. The number of teachers being trained by preservice training programs has not been able to keep pace with the number of students requiring specialized services. In the state of Florida all areas of special education have been identified as critical shortage areas. Often general and special education teachers and principals ask me to participate in question and answer sessions on. Schneider. Today. One can only begin to wonder about the amount of a signing bonus in 1977. Not only has the instructional time of the most qualified teachers diminished. “I can work with the child. salaries offered by districts were probably not the sole determinant in the decision-making of a prospective employee as it often is today. Today. Thirty years ago. to some extent.D. One merely needs to look at the data. what has changed are the reasons why the critical shortages in the field exist today. and the programs weren’t available everywhere in the country. Additional rules and regulations resulting from litigation at the federal and state levels caused changes at the local school district level. The difficulty in finding qualified staff in the mid to late 1970s is in many respects different from today. was just beginning to affect school districts in terms of identification. For one. school psychologists have been added to the list. but the competition for graduates is keen. the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. Ed. With the evolution of special education during the past 25–30 years came litigation.” Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . the number of training programs was few in number. but also their energy has been misguided into activities that may have little or no impact on improving student learning. We are far too involved with the process of educating students and not the engagement of learning itself. one might say that not much has changed over the years—we continue to have a shortage. can be recruited to take a position in any one school district and stay there. There is no question that the amount of time available for teaching has diminished over time and has fallen into the hands of those less prepared. administrators have reached their limit and have begun to question the purpose of special education. special education training programs are plentiful and located throughout the country. but whether enough T 76 teachers. Florida he concerns related to recruitment.200. the issue is not whether there are students with disabilities in need of services. P. the issue remains the same—there are not enough certified and qualified special education teachers to go around.CASE IN POINT: Same Song and Verse or Will the Melody Change? Kenneth E. establishing programs. Second. At first glance. Just recently.

The most pressing issues identified were: • Ambiguous and competing responsibilities • Overwhelming paperwork • Inadequate district and administrative support • Significant teacher isolation • Insufficient focus on improved student outcomes • Increased demand for well-qualified special educators • Poorly prepared new general and special educators • Fragmented state and provincial licensing systems The impact of these issues on special education teachers has resulted in a critical shortage. there is both positive and negative potential for students with disabilities. possibly. The latest entry to impact our teachers is minimum competency tests (MCT) for graduation. burnout. and. In this issue of JSEL. the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) appointed a Presidential Commission on the Conditions of Special Education Teaching and Learning.g. depending on the direction taken by teachers and administrators. teachers fleeing to other schools.Same Song and Verse or Will the Melody Change? The other culprit that teachers face is the continual procedural changes that take place in our field. extended school year. and you have the potential of additional legal precedents. CEC. the higher the grade assigned to the school and. paraprofessionals. Their purpose was to identify and address the barriers to high-quality special education. It is one thing to improve your product. it is not just the special education teacher who is responsible for the development and implementation but everyone who works with the student (e. The question of whether the amount of instruction geared toward passing a MCT meets the future needs of students with disabilities must also be considered. in this issue of JSEL. In 1998. Billingsley. therefore. As discussed in the article. 2000) indicates that “Four out of every ten special educators entering the field leave special education before their fifth year of teaching. administrators). The document (Bright Futures for Exceptional Learners: An Action Agenda to Achieve Quality Conditions for Teaching and Learning. those low-performing/lowgraded schools risk negative media. diploma options. makes an important statement about transitioning from the issue of teacher attrition and teacher shortages to the issue of “quality of services for students with disabilities. Likewise. If the desire is to increase the performance of students with disabilities on MCTs. the loss of funding and students to private schools in the form of vouchers. In Florida. The role of the building-level administrator and the level of support provided to the special education teacher are critical elements when the issues of attrition. Their results and discussion will prove invaluable as teachers and administrators begin to see the impact on students with disabilities. Manset-Williamson and Washburn have conducted a survey on the impact of requiring a minimum competency examination for students with learning disabilities.g. general education teachers. 77 .. The better the scores. To this point it appears that the burden of providing services falls totally on the back of the special education teacher. alternate assessment. the high-stakes testing data on most students with disabilities are disaggregated from the school’s statistics. The latest entry to impact our teachers is minimum competency tests (MCT) for graduation. which would come from remaining in the field for more than a couple of years. A negative result due to disaggregating might be an increase in referrals to have students staffed into special education. teachers must be trained and have a wide variety of classroom experiences. The result of the evolution of special Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 education legislation has been a decline in teachers entering the field and an increase in those leaving or quickly burning out. As with the development of an Individual Education Plan (IEP). the more status and cash rewards.” Outlined in the study are the most pressing issues and reasons for the attrition rates. then the issues of increasing student time in the general education setting and the need for additional resources will need to be discussed.” If students are to receive quality services. functional behavior assessments and behavior intervention plans. status reports on goals/benchmarks) in the absence of not removing any of the current duties and responsibilities only adds to the weight teachers are carrying on their shoulders. Add to the issue of MCT the allowance or not of accommodations. but the continual insertion of new procedures (e. and performance levels are discussed..

Teachers are more likely to experience burnout if they perceive a lack of support from others. school district. discounts on mortgage rates. and the students’ parents. Because of the potential liability of not being informed. The CSPD Council is composed of representatives from higher education. For example. a variety of measures have been taken. school district. and policies that govern the IEP and its implementation. and higher education institution across this country has been actively involved in seeking solutions to the issues of teacher shortages in the field of special education. and suburban). best practices and the laws. Their findings showed a connection between teacher burnout and support from others—administrators. mentors have been provided to assist new teachers. It is even more important that administrators recognize teachers when they express a lack of support and address the issue of concern. To address the issue of retention. Is it possible that the perception of “lack of support” by teachers is a result of principals not feeling comfortable about special education issues and thus appearing distant when approached by special education teachers for assistance? Most coursework leading to certification in school administration has not included sufficient coverage of special education. For. A review of Davidson and Algozzine’s study (see this issue of JSEL) on “Administrators’ Perceptions of Special Education Law” points to the need for additional training. without this knowledge. teachers. An action plan has been recommended and will be carried out through various projects. The lower the perception of support. etc. public school personnel. The issue of recruitment and retention is of such magnitude that the Florida Board of Education has identified their first strategic imperative for 2002–2003: increasing the supply of highly qualified K–12 instructors. The role played by the principal is the key to meeting the needs of special education teachers and. and the other professionals with whom the teachers work. The private sector has been involved as well. and higher education institution across this country has been actively involved in seeking solutions to the issues of teacher shortages in the field of special education. parents. rural. Over the next ten years. state department of education personnel. statistics indicate that there will be a large number of new administrators. Zabel and Zabel have now replicated their earlier study and expanded the variables to service delivery model. school locale (urban. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . and agency personnel from such organizations as Children Medical Services and the Down Syndrome Association.” Perhaps a future study can delineate what teachers mean when they express that they do not feel supported. Zabel and Zabel report on an investigation in 1982 and 1983 into the relationships between a number of personal and job-related factors for 600 special education teachers. More importantly though is the harm that comes to the students when school leaders are not informed. Every state department of education. In this issue of JSEL. ultimately. through donations. Poor decisions as a result of not being informed have resulted in lawsuits being filed against the individual teacher as well as the school district. it is extremely important that steps be taken to provide principals with the information they need to make proper decisions. Its mission is to review the critical needs related to special education personnel issues. Every state department of education. negotiated salaries. The authors delve into the difficulty of how one interprets “lack of support. Millions of dollars in federal and state grants have been allocated to address the problem. and grants have paid for teachers to take additional coursework and obtain a higher degree. the delivery of programs and services for students with disabilities in their schools.Same Song and Verse or Will the Melody Change? The issue of support and its ties to burnout has been researched and discussed in a variety of studies. and fund projects that will support issues such as recruitment and attrition. A review of the findings points to conclusions similar to those found in their previous study. develop activities. the consequences can be costly. the number of teachers experiencing burnout increases. As instructional leaders they must understand the issues pertaining to 78 accommodations and modifications. An additional resource that is available to states through federal funds is the Comprehensive System for Personnel Development (CSPD) Council. Recruiting efforts by school districts have resulted in signing bonuses.

6501 Magic Way. administrators. we can expect the same pattern in the future—fewer teachers entering the field and greater numbers leaving.us. is the Director for Exceptional Student Services in the South Learning Community for the Orange County Public Schools. including teachers. It’s time to change this melody. Schneider. Building 700.D. Orlando. 79 . and members of the community.. parents. Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 About the Author Kenneth E.Same Song and Verse or Will the Melody Change? The quality of programs and services that will be available to special education students in the future depends upon everyone. E-mail: schneik@ocps.fl. Ed. students. FL 32809.k12. working together on the issues shared in this publication. Unless changes occur. school board members.

or others interested in special education administration. • Include at the beginning an Executive Overview of 3–5 bulleted major points made in the article.Call For Papers Manuscript Guidelines and Editorial Policies The Journal of Special Education Leadership. research. To become a forum through which practicing administrators of special education programs can challenge the meaningfulness of translations of administrative theory and research. is on the title page only. starting with the title page. ❒ Manuscripts should be double-spaced and no more than 15 pages in length.All references in text are listed and in complete agreement with text citations. including figures. and not under consideration elsewhere. Only articles that have been validated and accompanied by accepted theory. grounded in recent advances in administrative theory and research. A paper can be improved dramatically when knowledgeable reviewers are asked for reactions in advance of submission. with margins. A typical article might begin with a brief case illustrating the primary theme or posing certain questions and issues that special education administrators need to address. 1994). • Be written in clear. 3. 4th edition. including professional title and affiliation.Cover letter states the manuscript is original. and • Include a biographical sketch of each author that includes name. A typical article will also satisfy the academic reader who seeks more than just opinions and wants to see a serious effort at connecting ideas to accepted theory and research. except on the title page).Entire manuscript is double spaced.All pages are numbered in sequence. Contributors to each issue will include practicing administrators. When questions arise regarding issues of Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 . . . To provide fresh ideas and perspectives. The Journal of Special Education Leadership’s goals are: 1. instead.All author identification information. • Use subheadings but not the traditional ones such as “Introduction”. Interactions may include any of the following: a jointly authored manuscript. 2. and a follow-up article that is specifically linked to the theory and/or research article that provides examples from the field and implications for administrators in similar situations. 80 With respect to style and format. To become a primary source of useful ideas for those who seek to educate present and future administrators of special education programs. . address. manuscripts should: • Be accompanied by a letter signed by the author(s). avoiding jargon and technical terms. not previously published. use. or practice are sought. on contemporary issues that administrators must face. seeks articles that capture an administrator’s attention by providing useful information that stimulates new ways of thinking about managing and leading. published by the Council for Administrators of Special Education. Authors are encouraged to get feedback from colleagues and practitioners on early drafts. “The Future Challenge” or “Do Seamless Delivery Systems have a Future?” • For the purpose of documentation. and phone number. title. cite notes in the body of the paper using superscript note numbers. particularly: . researchers. an interview preceded or followed by commentary written by the interviewer. . • Have a separate title page that identifies the authors (the names(s) of the author(s) should not appear anywhere on the manuscript. and place of employment. straightforward language. • Conform to APA format (see Appendix B of APA Publication Manual. The purpose of this arrangement is to encourage interaction among individuals within those roles in developing articles. policymakers.

However. The Journal of Special Education Leadership is published two times per year. Editor Journal of Special Education Leadership 175 Hills-South School of Education University of Massachusetts Amherst. the author is responsible for completing the following: Journal of Special Education Leadership 15(2) • November 2002 • Obtaining publication clearance. ❒ Manuscript is consistent with the purpose of the journal. • Assigning literary rights to CASE by signing a Copyright Transfer Agreement. Author Responsibilities Following Publication Acceptance After a manuscript is accepted for publication in the Journal of Special Education Leadership. on a DOS or Mac platform. the Journal of Special Education Leadership editor will communicate the results of that review to the author. 81 . Manuscripts that are consistent with the purpose of the journal are sent out for peer review. • Acknowledging the funding agency for supported research. for a manuscript first presented at a professional meeting. are not forwarded for peer review. • Verifying the authenticity of all quoted material and citations and for obtaining permission from the original source for quotes in excess of 150 words or for tables or figures reproduced from published works. 4th edition. 4th edition. MA 01003 Acknowledgment of receipt of your manuscript will be sent to you within 2 weeks. however these formats are not preferable. (Acceptable alternatives are ASCII format. or that are not consistent with the purpose of the journal. • Sending two (2) paper copies of the revised manuscript to the Journal of Special Education Leadership’s Editorial Office. with routine editing • Acceptable. please complete the Author Checklist below. • Preparing camera-ready copies of all figures included in the article.Call for Papers grammar or style. The issues vary with some being thematic. Review Process Selection of manuscripts for publication is based on a blind peer review process. Microsoft Word. ❒ Manuscript conforms to APA format (see Appendix B of APA Publication Manual. authors should refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. ❒ Manuscript is no longer than 15 pages total. This recommendation does not mean that the manuscript would be automatically accepted by a Division journal. with revisions indicated by editor • Unacceptable When a decision is made that a manuscript is unacceptable for the Journal of Special Education Leadership. Reviewers will not know the identity of the author. Review of your manuscript will occur within 6 weeks. and • Sending an exact copy of the revised manuscript to the Editorial Office on a floppy disk (3 1/2”). 1994). if possible. Send 5 copies of manuscript and file copy on a 3 1/2” floppy disk to: Dr. Those manuscripts that do not meet the manuscript requirements. Based on the blind reviews. all manuscripts are screened first by the editor. if needed. The decision that is communicated to the author will be one of the following: • Acceptable.) Author Checklist Before sending a manuscript. the manuscript would have to go through the review process again. Copies of the manuscript are not returned to the author in either case. Each issue includes 4–5 articles and 1–2 administrative briefs/technical notes. with the document saved in WordPerfect. This will help ensure that your manuscript is not screened out or returned before review. Mary Lynn Boscardin. or WordPro format. The author is either notified that the manuscript is not acceptable for the Journal of Special Education Leadership or requested to make changes in the manuscript so that it meets requirements. it may be recommended that it be sent to a journal of one of the CEC Divisions.

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