First-Year Special Educators: The Influence of School and Classroom Context Factors on Their Accomplishments and Problems

Feb. 20, 2009

Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, v. 32 no. 1 (February 2009), p. 45-63

Despite a history of research in general education on novice teachers, researchers have only recently begun to investigate the experiences of beginning special educators. Many of these studies describe problems encountered, noting the high attrition rate among beginning special education teachers and emphasizing the importance of keeping qualified special educators in the field.

The purpose of this study was to more fully describe novice special educators' experiences by exploring their problems and accomplishments and the context factors within the classroom and school that potentially promote or constrain novices' professional development.
Thus, two research questions were investigated. What are 1st-year special educators' accomplishments and problems? And what school and classroom context factors are associated with 1st-year special educators' most significant accomplishments and pressing problems?

The findings of this survey of 596 first-year special education teachers extend the literature by revealing the influence of classroom and school context factors on new teachers' accomplishments and problems.

Updated: May. 11, 2009