Measuring teacher effectiveness through meaningful evaluation : how can reform models apply to general education and special education teachers?
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While teacher quality is recognized as a critical component in school reform, and the pursuit of new teacher evaluation systems has gained national attention, the question of whether proposed teacher assessment models meet the needs of special education teachers has gone largely unnoticed. Current efforts to design teacher evaluation processes that accurately distinguish between effective and ineffective teachers must take into account the difficulties of using new, innovative evaluation systems to appraise teachers who serve students with disabilities. Important differences in the roles, expertise, and circumstances in which special education teachers carry out their responsibilities result in challenges related to the use of observation protocols in evaluating instructional practices, obtaining valid measures of student progress, and understanding the relevance of teacher credentials (i.e., degrees earned and certification) in the special education setting. Through this qualitative research dissertation, the researcher sought to gain insight into the perceptions and experiences of special education teachers and administrators to better understand (a) the relationship between teacher evaluation and teacher effectiveness; (b) the ways in which educators approach the challenges of applying teacher evaluation systems for special education teachers; and (c) the ways in which teacher evaluation processes support the professional growth and development of special education teachers.
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