Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Ann Cranston-Gingras, Ph.D.


Alternative teacher preparation, Special education, Teacher efficacy, Teacher effectiveness, No Child Left Behind


The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (2002) mandated that every teacher be highly qualified by the close of the 2005-2006 school year. However, the means by which newly certified teachers are prepared has been questioned. In addition to understanding how teachers enter the field, researchers have indicated a vested interest in examining who comes into the field. More specifically, the characteristics and experiences of pre-service and in-service special educators are of great interest (McKlesky & Ross, 2003; Rosenberg & Sindelar, 2001). The present study examined the characteristics of six teachers in the final internship phase of a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program in Varying Exceptionalities at a Research I/Research Extensive University in the Southeast.This study was conducted using both quantitative and qualitative methods, employing a concurrent triangulation mixed-methods design for data collection and analysis. The quantitative phase included descriptive statistics gleaned from pre-existing Haberman Urban Teacher Selection Interview data, results from the Teacher's Sense of Efficacy Scale self-report survey, and an adapted Pathwise Classroom Observation System protocol. The qualitative data collected for complementarity included thick, rich case descriptions, descriptive data from semi-structured interviews with mentors and a focus group interview with participants.Results showed that the participants entered the program with a variety of experiences and backgrounds. Also, the participants demonstrated and reported a range of variability in terms of their classroom effectiveness and their sense of efficacy. Further, the participants discussed several factors that they perceived as contributing to or impeding their professional success. The findings have implications for teacher preparation programs, school districts, and educational policymakers.