Administrator support of special education teachers: Defining it and measuring it

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Batya Elbaum - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to develop an empirically validated model of administrator support for special education teachers. The focus on administrator support is justified in relation to the extensive body of research demonstrating the impact of administrator support on teacher retention. Data were gathered from a large sample of district-level special education administrators in a state in the northeastern United States. Participants (n = 298) in the study were asked to respond to an email survey consisting of 84 items reflecting both previous research and expert judgment relating to ways in which administrators support special education teachers. Half of the sample rated each item in terms of its importance related to providing support to teachers; the other half rated each item in terms of the extent to which they were able to provide that form of support. A Principal Component Analysis (PCA) with varimax rotation, conducted on the importance ratings, revealed seven robust components. The number of items was reduced by retaining only those items with factor loadings > .5 and by retaining a maximum of 7 items per factor. Retained items (n = 35) constitute the final Administrator Support for Special Education Teachers Scale (ASSETS). Analysis of ASSETS items indicated that administrators perceive different components of administrator support to be differentially important and perceive that they are differentially able to provide different types of support to special education teachers.


Education, Tests and Measurements; Education, Administration; Education, Special

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