Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Michael Broda


Teacher retention, or why teachers stay, is an important area of study considering the impact teacher attrition and turnover can have on student outcomes (Hirsch & Emerick, 2006). Teacher attrition and turnover are even more concerning for those that are special education teachers (SETs), and it is noted as a priority to address in the state of Virginia (Solenson et al., 2018). Through an adapted organizational theory lens, this study addresses the following aims: 1) Determine if there are differences in perceptions of teacher working conditions (TWCs) between special education teachers (SETs) and teachers of other content areas and 2) Examine the effect of teacher working conditions, particularly leadership support, on special education teacher’s intent to stay at their school, move from their school, or leave teaching. To address the research aims, a statewide dataset was used that captured perceptions of Teacher Working Conditions and their intention to remain at their school, move schools, or leave teaching the following year. Results indicate that there are differences in mean responses when comparing Virginia special education teachers and teachers that teach other content areas on their perception of TWCs. Multilevel, multinomial logistic regression found several teacher working conditions are associated with SET intentions to leave, move, or stay, even after controlling for teacher demographic and school level variables. Of the TWCs, perception of school leadership had the most significant association with intention to move schools while perception of teacher leadership and autonomy was most significant with intention to leave teaching. There were also several demographic variables as well as a school level variable that remained significantly associated with SET intention despite the inclusion of TWCs. Predicted probabilities of teacher demographics, intention, and including high and low perceptions of TWCs found that the perception of the TWC had a bidirectional effect and can either exacerbate their intention to leave, or substantially decrease intention. The results of the current study offer practice, policy, and research implications for state policy, district/division leaders, school leaders, special education teachers, and future researchers.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission