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Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Russell O. Mays

Committee Members

Martha Coutinho, Ronald A. Lindahl, Russell F. West


The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Act increased the need for special education teachers, but a shortage of qualified teachers currently exists. The high number of special education teachers who are making the choice to leave special education contributes to this shortage. It is widely accepted that stressors related to the profession impact the high attrition rate. One of the highest rates of attrition is found in self-contained Comprehensive Development Classes (CDC) where teachers provide highly individualized special education services in self-contained settings, often for the majority of the studentÆs day.

The purpose of this study was to identify significant stressors experienced by teachers working in CDCs and their effects on teacher attrition from those programs. In this phenomenological study the guided interview approach was used to identify the specific stressors, methods of stressor identification, intensity of specific stressors, long- and short-term effects, possible outcomes related to identified stressors, and techniques used to relieve the effects of the stressors. Interviews were conducted with current and past CDC teachers, an assistant from each classroom, building administrators, and any support persons identified by the teachers. Information was also gathered from school and classroom records.

The findings of this study identified specific stressors, sources of the stressors, effects on the teachers, and related information. The findings support that there is a relationship between stressors and the high rate of CDC teacher attrition for both experienced and novice teachers. Recommendations for practice related to the identified stressors include those made directly by the participants as possible methods of stressor alleviation that could result in a positive impact on teacher attrition.

Document Type

Dissertation - restricted


Copyright by the authors.