Understanding the Special Education Teacher Pipeline in Hawai‘i
Dissertation Research Project, 2021
Janet Kim, Special Education Recruitment Specialist
This research project seeks to answer the following three questions:
Although Hawai‘i suffers from a chronic teacher shortage similar to the rest of the country, there are variables that make Hawaii’s teacher shortage unique. Every year for the last five years, there have been over 1,000 teaching positions unfilled, with more than a third of positions being specific to special education (DOE Employment Reports, 2015-2019). The Hawaii DOE reports 94% of their teachers as highly qualified, however that percentage drops to 84% for the field of special education. One of the primary drivers of the teacher shortage is teacher attrition. In Hawaii, attrition accounts for 80% of the annual demand and is caused most by teachers who leave the profession prematurely, with most choosing to leave the state entirely. Attrition rates are doubled for teachers who were not trained by a local teacher education program. There is a need to increase the enrollment of motivated individuals into pursuing comprehensive special education teacher preparation programs in Hawai‘i.
The College of Education at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) is the largest local producer of newly certified teachers in the state each year. The targeted population for this study includes individuals who had started an application to a UHM special education teacher preparation program between 2015-2020. This mixed-methods exploratory sequential design study will seek to understand characteristics of those interested in the special education career, the motivations that inspired them to pursue licensure, and then understand their program design preferences. Given Hawai‘i's unique landscape and population, this study is especially interested in understanding how to support more individuals from underrepresented groups (i.e., rural/remote, nontraditional, ethnicity, gender) into entering the teacher workforce in Hawai‘i.
Postcards sent to invited participants
Surveys Emailed to Participants
Final day to submit survey responses
Postcards are funded through a NAGAP research grant, awarded to support this project. Postcards will include a "Someone Special for Students" campaign sticker for all invited participants as a thank you for supporting this research project. And an additional thank you to my two daughters who so enthusiastically helped me with adding the address labels and stamps to all the postcards!
Thank you to everyone who has participated so far! As of April 1, I have received 138 responses to the survey! My goal is to have 200 responses by mid-April. If you have any questions about this study or need me to resend the survey link, please reach out and let me know!
I am very excited to analyze all the feedback that has been shared. Thank you again for your participation!