Examining the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities and Teacher Attrition
Gilmour, Allison Frances
Prior research has examined how students with disabilities influence their peers’ academic and behavioral outcomes but little current research has examined how students with disabilities impact their teachers. Using data from kindergarten through twelfth grade teachers in North Carolina over three years, I used multilevel models to examined if the proportion of students with disabilities in teachers’ classes was associated with teacher attrition, both leaving and total attrition. When students with disabilities were considered as one group, teaching a mix of students with and without disabilities was associated with a 9–16% decrease in the odds of leaving and a 20–23% decrease in the odds of total attrition, compared to teachers without students with disabilities in their classrooms and controlling for teacher, classroom and school characteristics. However, this association varied by disability label. Teachers who taught classrooms that contained all students with behavior disorders, intellectual disabilities, or other health impairments had 1.6–3 times the odds of total attrition than teachers without any students without disabilities in their classes after the addition of control variables. There was no evidence that certification in special education moderated the association between teaching students with disabilities and leaving teaching, but some tentative evidence that certification in special education acted as a moderator for total attrition, but not for all disability categories. Overall, the results suggested that teachers’ career choices might be influenced by teaching students with disabilities, both positively and negatively depending on the disability label. I discussed the results in the context of the job demands-resources model and presented areas for future research.