A study of the causes of teacher attrition in regular and special education in Wisconsin

Linda Kuzan Metzke, Marquette University


The purpose of this study was twofold. First, the study was undertaken to determine an accurate picture of teacher attrition in Wisconsin based on information from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's (DPI) data base. Secondly, the study sought to discover causes of teacher attrition in Wisconsin and to determine whether special education and regular education teachers left for similar reasons. The study determined attrition rates of regular and special education teachers over a three year period (1984-1987) using the DPI data base. A survey was then sent to a random sample of 400 teachers (100 regular education teachers and 100 special education teachers who remained in teaching; 100 regular education teachers and 100 special education teachers who left teaching). Principal components analysis and Alpha factoring was used to reduce the 37 variables included in the survey to thirteen factors. On the basis of these factors, discriminant analysis was used to determine whether accurate predictions could be made as to whether a teacher left or remained in teaching. This research considered several hypotheses about teacher attrition. The first nine hypotheses differences in attrition rates of special and regular education teachers, teachers with emergency or full certification, teachers in rural and urban areas, teachers certified at the elementary, middle school, or secondary levels, teacher age, teachers certified in each subject area, teachers with graduate or undergraduate training, experienced and non-experienced regular education teachers, and special education teachers with and without regular education experience. These hypotheses were tested using data from the DPI data base and the survey. Other hypotheses dealt with conditions of the teaching profession such as salary; administrative, parental, and professional support; recognition of and feedback on job performance; vacation time; duties required outside of the classroom; opportunity to work on curriculum development; and autonomy. These hypotheses were tested using the results of the survey. Findings indicated significantly higher attrition rates for special education teachers, teachers on emergency certification, teachers under the age of 35, teachers at the secondary level, music and foreign language teachers, teachers with undergraduate training, and regular education teachers with less than six years experience. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Recommended Citation

Metzke, Linda Kuzan, "A study of the causes of teacher attrition in regular and special education in Wisconsin" (1988). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8904275.