Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Lisa Ray, PhD

First Reader

Debra Polack, MA


This study examines the growing evidence that paperwork burdens associated with the jobs of special education teachers are contributing to high attrition rates among these educators. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact that paperwork demands have on special educators’ decisions to remain in this profession. In examining the literature for the primary reasons of difficulty in retaining special education teachers, several themes emerged: increasing paperwork burdens and administrative tasks as a result of budget cuts and increased class sizes in both special and general education classes, NCLB legal requirements and accountability policies, and time constraints. In-depth interviews were conducted with nine education specialists in two different elementary special education settings: the resource specialist program and the special day class program. The education specialists were from two different school districts in northern California. The analysis revealed striking similarities between the themes of the findings and the themes that emerged in the review of the previous literature. The findings illustrate the enormous pressures special educators are experiencing with paperwork demands, time allotment per instructional and non-instructional paperwork as well as teaching and serving students, and the effects of burnout that occur in both new and experienced special education teachers. The findings provide evidence that today’s special educators face unprecedented work conditions and expectations that affect personal and professional job efficacy.

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