DOVP Week: Linda Thurston on Evaluating Teacher Performance Must Include Students from Vulnerable Populations

Hello from Kansas, the nation’s breadbasket!  I am Linda Thurston, Associate Dean of the College of Education at Kansas State University and long-time member of AEA. I am the 2013 co-chair of AEA’s Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations (DOVP) TIG.  DOVP welcomes you to a week of aea365 articles focused on information and resources to help evaluators include vulnerable populations in their work.

Many evaluators are involved with K-12 education and the assessment or evaluation of teacher performance. To date, indicators of teacher quality have primarily been observations and student test scores.  Whether or not we, as evaluators, agree with this trend, we are always interested in assuring that our evaluation measures are valid.  If teacher evaluation systems do not acknowledge the presence of special populations of students there are grave concerns for validity and equity. In the May issue of Educational Researcher, Nathan Jones and his colleagues discuss the issues of including students with disabilities (SWD) and English language learners (ELL) in evaluating teacher performance. They also offer some suggestions that I think are applicable for many types of evaluations involving students with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.

Rad Resource: Article by Jones, Buzick, and Turkan, S. in the 42nd volume of Educational Researcher.

Despite advances in research on teacher evaluation (for  summaries, see Harris, 2011; Bell et al., 2012), there has been  virtually no attention given to whether teachers are effectively  educating exceptional populations—namely students with  disabilities (SWDs) and English learners (ELs).

Hot Tips:

  • For observing teacher performance in ways that include SWDs and ELLs, consider using protocols designed specifically for use with these special populations.
  • Assure that observers are trained in the instructional needs of both SWDs and ELLs.
  • In measuring student progress, examine and test assumptions about the presence of scores from SWDs and ELLs in general classroom settings (most SWDs and ELLs spend most of their time in general education classrooms).
  • Utilize a consistent system to consider use of accommodations and changes in classifications across time and to distinguish subgroups within both populations.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations TIG (DOVP) Week. The contributions all week come from DOVP members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluator.

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