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Evaluation for Special Education Teacher Effectiveness. Bonnie S. Billingsley, Professor Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences School of Education, Department of Teaching & Learning billingsley@vt.edu OSEP Project Director’s Conference July 20, 2010. It’s Complicated….

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Evaluation for special education teacher effectiveness

Evaluation for Special Education Teacher Effectiveness

Bonnie S. Billingsley, ProfessorVirginia TechCollege of Liberal Arts & Human SciencesSchool of Education, Department of Teaching & Learning


OSEP Project Director’s Conference

July 20, 2010

It s complicated
It’s Complicated…

“…it’s hard, you know there are days I think coming up with new vaccines for things like malaria are in some ways more straightforward than a personnel system that everyone is going to feel great about.”

Bill Gates to Jon Stewart in a discussion about teacher evaluation (The Daily Show, January 25, 2010)

Changing context for teacher evaluation
Changing Context for Teacher Evaluation

  • Controversial: varied stakeholders & interests

  • Interest in teacher evaluation related to relationship between teacher quality and student achievement

  • Teacher evaluation as “policy lever” to improve teacher performance & reduce achievement gaps


  • Conceptual

    • Effective teaching

    • Purposes of evaluation

  • Measurement

    • Psychometric properties of assessments

    • In specific contexts & with special populations

  • Contextual

    • Teachers’ opportunities for effectiveness

    • Teacher support & learning

Selected teacher evaluation approaches measures
Selected Teacher Evaluation Approaches/Measures

  • Examples

    • Value-added

    • Structured Observation Systems

    • Other observations

    • Teacher checklists/rating scales

    • Portfolios/classroom data/artifacts

    • Individual educational plans

    • Student performance on learning goals

Structured observations
Structured Observations

  • Global observation measures

    • Framework for Teaching Observation Survey (Danielson, 1996, 2007)

      • Used in special education research (Nougaret et al., 2005; Sindelar et al., 2004)

    • Classroom Assessment Scoring System [CLASS] (Pianta, La Paro & Hamre, 2008)

  • Specific observation measures

    • Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI) (Hill et al., 2008)

    • English Language Learner Classroom Observation Instrument (ELLCOI) (Baker et al., 2006)

Chicago public schools pilot of excellence in teaching project
Chicago Public Schools: Pilot ofExcellence in Teaching Project

  • Modified Danielson framework

  • Purposes: improve teaching, basis for coaching, reflection & professional development (PD)

  • Pre-observation/observation/post-observations

  • Four levels: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient & distinguished

  • Studying effects: (e.g., reliability, relationship between observation scores & student achievement, user perspectives)

  • “Clarifying” use with special education

Contextual challenges opportunity for effectiveness
Contextual Challenges:Opportunity for effectiveness?

  • Consistent SET shortages, especially high poverty districts (Boe, 2006; Fall & Billingsley, 2008; U.S. Department of Education)

  • Formidable content & pedagogical demands

  • Diverse & increasing caseloads (Carlson et al., 2002; McLeskey et al., 2004)

  • Lack of clarity about roles (Gehrke & Murri, 2006)

  • Insufficient time on instruction: 40% (Vannest & Hagan-Burke, 2010)

Contextual challenges opportunities for set learning
Contextual Challenges: Opportunities for SET Learning?

  • Evaluator expertise

    • Principals

    • Teacher leaders & instructional coaches

  • Opportunities for professional development

  • Professional learning communities


  • Baker, S., Gersten, R., Haager, D., & Dingle, M. (2006). Teaching practice and the reading growth of first-grade English learners: Validation of an observation instrument. Elementary School Journal, 107(2), 199–221.

  • Boe, E. E., & Cook, L. H. (2006).   The chronic and increasing shortage of fully-certified teachers in special and general education. Exceptional Children, 72(4), 443-460.

  • Carlson, E., Brauen, M., Klein, S., Schroll, K. & Willig, S. (2002). Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education: Key Findings. Retrieved from http://fer.dig.coe.ful.edu/spense/KeyFindings.pdf.

  • Danielson, C. (1996; 2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for Teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.

  • Fall, A. M., & Billingsley, B. (2008). Disparities in teacher quality among early career special educators in high and low poverty districts. In T. E. Scruggs & M. A. Mastropieri (Eds.), Advances in learning and behavioral disabilities: Vol. 21. Personnel preparation (pp. 181-206). Stanford, CT: JAI.

References continued
References (continued)

  • Hill, H. C., Blunk, M. L., Charalambous, C. Y., Lewis, J. M., Phelps, G. C., Sleep, L., & Ball, D. L. (2008). Mathematical knowledge for teaching and the mathematical quality of instruction: An exploratory study. Cognition and Instruction, 26(4), 430–511.

  • Gehrke, R. S., & Murri, N. (2006). Beginning special educators' intent to stay in special education: Why they like it here. Teacher Education and Special Education, 29(3), 179-190.

  • McLeskey, J., Tyler, N., & Flippin, S. S. (2004). The supply of and demand for special education teachers: A review of research regarding the nature of the chronic shortage of special education teachers. The Journal of Special Education, 38(1), 5-21.

  • Nougaret, A. A., Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (2005). Does teacher education produce better special education teachers? Exceptional Children, 71(3), 217-229.

References cont
References (cont.)

  • Pianta, R. C., La Paro, K., & Hamre, B. K. (2008). Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

  • Sindelar, P. T., Daunic, A., & Rennells, M. S. (2004). Comparisons of traditionally and alternatively trained teachers. Exceptionality, 12(4), 209-223.

  • United States Department of Education. Annual Reports to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Washington, DC: Author.