Contact Person: Karen Perrin
Research evidence indicates there are high turnover rates in special education and that special education teachers are more likely to depart the field than any other teacher group (Ingersoll, 2001). Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) hires novice special education teachers every year only to lose many to attrition in the field. Billingsley (2004) noted that the special education teacher shortage will not be addressed by recruiting more teachers each year, but through thoughtful analysis and action by addressing the critical factors of why novice special educators leave the field.
The current educational environment expects new teachers to fulfill teaching competencies and instructional goals on par with their more experienced colleagues due to the intense focus on highly qualified teachers mandated through No Child Left Behind Education Act of 2002 (NCLB). New special education teachers face additional complexities with special education legal aspects and paperwork challenges in order to meet the diverse instructional needs of students with disabilities (Billingsley, 2004). Research indicates a positive correlation for special educators who were provided higher levels of mentoring during the first crucial years of teaching to their plans to remain in special education and maintain job satisfaction.
The overarching goal of the Special Education Mentor Coach (SEMC) Program in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is to provide on-going, focused mentoring and job-embedded coaching from experienced special educators for novice first, second, and third-year special education teachers to increase teacher retention in the filed of special education. Each mentor coach provides individualized, focused mentoring support around specific special education job responsibilities. Eight full time special education mentor coaches (SEMC’s) are assigned by clusters.
- Each mentor coach averages between 12-25 schools with a minimum of one new teacher at each school
- Ongoing professional development and support network for special education mentor coaches is provided on a bi-monthly basis
- Ongoing monthly individual mentor coach meetings with program manager for reflection, next steps, and problem solving
- Ongoing focus on capacity building of mentor coach program
In FY 2010, a 1.0 functional supervisor position was added through department
realignment and 4.0 special education mentor coach positions were added using funds from Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) two-year stimulus
funding. These 5.0 positions continue to support this program in FY 2011. IDEA ARRA funding provides $1.5
million in offsetting revenue; the remaining $0.2 million for this program is provided by the Operating Fund.
In FY 2012, 4 of the positions are funded by operating funds that are allocated to the Special Education Professional Learning program and 4 positions are funded by Title II. Additional budget information can be found at the attached link http://www.fcps.edu/fs/budget/docs/FY2011ProgramBudget.pdf , page 203.