Date of Conferral







Felicia Blacher-Wilson


AbstractA quarter of special education teachers who have been trained through an alternative teacher preparation program have left assigned classrooms throughout the United States after 1 year, and almost half have left within 5 years. However, little is known regarding why special educators, alternatively prepared for the classroom, leave the classroom after 2-5 years of classroom experience. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to understand why special education teachers enter school districts through alternative teacher certification programs but exit the classroom. The conceptual framework for this study was in the societal theory attributed to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The research questions inquired how former alternatively trained special educators described the reasons for leaving the classroom, and how school administrators describe the reasons special education teachers trained through alternative certification programs leave the classroom. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with 20 special educators and 10 school administrators. Five themes regarding special educators’ rationale for leaving were lack of support, overwhelming caseloads, an abundance of paperwork, not being properly trained, and student behavior. Policymakers and district leaders may be able to use the results of this study to guide and develop policies that address the increasing special education teacher shortage. These findings bear the potential to generate positive social change by assisting decision-makers on what resources and supports school districts would need to recruit and retain a diverse workforce of special educators.