Whither Didst Thou Go? Retention, Reassignment, Migration, And Attrition Of Special And General Education Teachers From A National Perspective

In view of the paucity of national data on teacher retention, transfer, and attrition in special education, and the importance of these phenomena to teacher demand and shortage, we sought to provide such data from a national probability sample of 4,798 public school teachers from the 1988-1989 Teacher Followup Survey (Faupel, Bobbitt, & Friedrichs, 1992). The analysis focused on two main teaching fields (special and general education) and various aspects of teacher turnover. Results showed higher annual turnover for special education teachers (SFTs) than for general education teachers (GETs), in terms of both attrition from public school teaching (SETs = 8%; GETs = 6%) and transfer among public schools (SETs = 13%; GETs = 7%). However, the SET-GET difference in attrition percentages was modest in absolute terms, and lower than those reported from several states. SETs and GETs who left teaching did not differ significantly in postteaching activities or plans to return to teaching. The relationships between teacher turnover and teacher demand, shortage, recruitment, retention, and preparation are discussed.