Rural Hurdles in Recruiting, Training, Retaining Spec. Ed. Teachers

By Diette Courrégé Casey — May 15, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The apparent first national survey of rural special education teachers recommended more training as a means of improving retention, according to a new study in a recent issue of the Rural Special Education Quarterly.

“Issues in Special Education Teacher Recruitment, Retention, and Professional Development: Considerations in Supporting Rural Teachers” highlights the fact that the shortage of special education teachers nationally can be especially difficult for rural areas. Its authors include: Ann B. Berry, of Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H.; Robert A. Petrin of The Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, Penn.; Maggie L. Gravelle, of the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Thomas W. Farmer, of The Pennsylvania State University. The article does not appear to be online.

Researchers interviewed rural special education teachers and administrators by phone between April and December of 2009. They used National Center for Education Statistics data to identify 8,646 rural districts nationally, and a computer chose a random sample of 10 percent of those.

More than half of the rural administrators surveyed said they had “moderate to extreme” difficulties filling special education teaching positions, and more than half said they hired at least one teacher who didn’t meet the federal law’s requirement for highly qualified teachers.

Nearly three-fourths of administrators said they also had a difficult time retaining teachers, and they said teachers often left to retire or for personal reasons. The most commonly cited factors affecting retention were: competition from other districts, salary, geographic isolation, and benefit packages. Forty-two percent of rural special education teachers said they would leave their schools in the next five years.

As for training, teachers said they needed more information on: working with paraprofessionals and parents, working with students in certain disability categories, and including special needs students in the general population.

The study’s authors said their findings point out a need for pre-service and in-service training on:
• the coordination of services with paraprofessionals and parents;
• low-incidence disabilities;
•emotional and behavioral disorders;
•classroom management;
•skills in collaboration and inclusive practices, and
•curriculum content.

It didn’t give recommendations for how rural districts could better recruit special educators, but the study said the suggested training areas could help increase teachers’ confidence and help them to remain in their positions.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP