Cultivating positive work contexts that promote teacher job satisfaction and retention in high-need schools

Brandis M. Ansley, David Houchins, Kris Varjas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


• Teacher turnover continues to perpetuate shortages in U.S. schools, particularly within settings that serve students with disabilities, economic disadvantages, or other obstacles to their education. • Recent studies suggest high teacher turnover in high-need settings is not reflective of problems associated with the needs of their students, but instead is a result of high stress and job dissatisfaction due to poor working conditions. • This article reports results of a survey on the working conditions and quality of work experiences of public school teaching staff that served students with multiple risk factors. The school provided services for students whose least restrictive environment was a separate school for those with intense emotional disturbance needs. In addition, most of the students experienced economic hardship and had histories of childhood trauma, behavior problems, and academic underachievement. • The majority of respondents indicated they were satisfied with their working conditions and quality of work experiences. Correlational analyses revealed that participant job satisfaction was most strongly associated with perceptions of supportive school leadership and positive relationships with administrators and other personnel. • Given the survey results and findings of other recent studies, recommendations for practice for special education leaders and administrators in other high-need schools are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Special Education Leadership
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Administrative support
  • Job satisfaction
  • Teacher/staff retention
  • Work context
  • Working conditions


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