Teacher Evaluations in the Special Education Setting: Voices from the Field
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National policy mandates have placed greater accountability on districts and schools to improve the outcomes of every student, including students with disabilities. Teacher evaluation systems that accurately identify effective teachers and their impact on student learning have resulted in the widespread design and implementation of new teacher evaluation systems. Nevertheless, limited exploration related to the evaluation of special education teachers exists. Using a qualitative, multi-case study research design, we 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. The challenges involved in evaluating special education teachers with a uniform teacher evaluation protocol instrument are presented. The need to be able to accurately appraise special education teachers within an inclusive classroom setting, apply criteria from the observation protocol to special education students, and lack of appraisers� knowledge of the roles and expertise of special education teachers were identified. Recommendations for improvement are provided.