Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. LaRon Scott

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Broda

Third Advisor

Dr. Collen Thoma

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jane West


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between administrative support and retention of early career special education teachers. Research has shown that there is a shortage of special education teachers; however, teachers leaving the field may be driving the shortages. Based on the work of Schein’s (2003) theory of organizational culture, this study identified how different types of support (i.e., emotional, instructional, technical, and environmental) can influence early career special education teachers’ decision to remain in their current position. Participants, including teachers and administrators from a suburban school division in Virginia, completed a modified version of the Administrative Support Survey. A correlational research design was used to answer research questions comparing support perceived by principals to support received by teachers and support perceived by teachers to support provided by administrators.

An analysis of variance (ANOVA), independent samples t-test, and descriptive statistics were conducted. Results revealed that the majority of teachers reported they received support and intended on returning to their position. However, the teachers who reported they were not returning to their position indicated receiving little support from their principals. Further, differences in support were also reported by race, grade level, disability taught, licensing status, and delivery model of instruction. Limitations and implications for practice, policy, and research are reported.


© Cassandra B. Willis

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