Administrator Perspectives: Impacts of Alternative Special Education Teacher Certification in Idaho Thesis uri icon



  • Thesis (Ph.Ed., Curriculum & Instruction) -- University of Idaho, December 2014 | This study examined the views of special education administrators on the impacts of alternative special education teacher certification in Idaho. In-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with eight directors of special education--two each from small, medium, and large school districts and two from charter schools--as well as survey responses from 50 special education directors resulted in data that comprised a mixed methods study. Based on the research, conclusions were drawn about the perceived differences among special education directors regarding the preparedness and proficiency of teachers who were alternatively certified to teach special education in Idaho compared to traditionally trained and fully certified teachers. Participants offered viewpoints regarding human resource decisions related to special education teachers. The study found an overwhelming preference by directors to hire traditionally trained and certified special educators based on preparedness and proficiency. However, there was a willingness to hire alternatively certified special education teachers due to the shortages of teachers in the special education field and the large number of open positions to fill across the state. The results of the study provided a narrative account of recruiting, hiring, mentoring, supervising, and evaluating alternatively certified special education teachers in Idaho. Based on these findings, recommendations are made for partnerships to be established between institutions of higher learning, the state department of education, and local agencies to provide certification programs featuring the opportunity for potential teachers to earn salaries during on-the-job training. Various alternative certification options should continue to be allowed in Idaho, so available special education teacher positions can be filled. Similarly, universities should continue to offer certification programs for teachers desiring special education certification. Mentorship is of critical necessity for new special education teachers. Educational leaders should make every effort to ensure appropriate and effective mentoring and supervision to these new teachers. Paying close attention to and tracking the progress of participants entering into alternative certification programs would provide rich and important data allowing for generalizations to be formed regarding the backgrounds of those best suited for success in such preparation programs.

publication date

  • December 1, 2014

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