Data based evaluations for sped teachers

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by waterfall, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jan 3, 2014

    Our state has recently passed a law that 50% of teacher evaluations have to be based on student data. I know several other states have as well. We've been having meetings with our department to talk about what this will look like for sped. I was really nervous because I thought it would be based on state test scores, and obviously it's really unfair to compare a sped teacher's sores with a gen ed teacher's scores. They basically decided that ours is going to be based on the percentage of kids that pass their IEP goals. We still have a lot of questions about this, but I am definitely relieved that it's not based on state testing. The significant support needs teachers still weren't happy with this because they were saying that their kids typically can't pass goals in one year either. There are also concerns about "watering down" goals and situations where kids pass every goal except one or something like that. I'm just curious to see what other districts have come up with for their sped teachers. My dad's state is going to data based evaluations also, but he has been told nothing about how that will look for sped.
     
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  3. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    Jan 3, 2014

    Our district is currently working on that too. So far, it seems that the student data will be based on growth, not raw scores, and the sped population will not be compared to the whole. In addition, our evaluation will include state assessment data, but will also include data from at least one other type of assessment. That could be textbook tests like Pearson, MAP tests, teacher created tests, or portfolios.
     
  4. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jan 3, 2014

    If a student's goals cannot feasibly be attained in one year, they are being written too high. The teacher you mentioned who says she knows her students cannot meet their goals may need to write more realistic goals. Goals should be within the realm of attainable.
     
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jan 3, 2014

    This is how we are directed in my district as well. We were told at PD today, in fact: If your students aren't meeting their goals, we have a problem. Goals are supposed to be written to be attainable.

    In regards to the original question, we haven't gotten to this point yet, but I've often wondered how it will go down when we get there. I don't think measuring by state tests is the answer. I don't think measuring by IEP goals is the answer either, for the already mentioned reasons (Besides, no one ever comes to check our data. So, if someone's job depended on it, I could see just marking that goals have been met on the progress reports without ever having to show any proof.). I don't think measuring growth is the answer either. Some sped students will show such limited growth over the course of a year (or the course of a lifetime, for some of the most significantly impaired).

    I don't claim to have the answer, but I don't think any of those ways will be effective. I'm interested to hear what others have to say.
     
  6. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jan 4, 2014

    This is essentially what our sped director said to them. I think it is so different for them though than for us in mild/moderate. I worked with SSN students in ESY one summer and I imagine it would be incredibly hard to write goals for them. I had a student whose goals were literally things like, "maintain attention with an eye gaze for 5 seconds." She was nonverbal and was also unable to move any part of her body by herself. I don't know how you can get much lower than that as far as setting something for her to accomplish. I also know it's very typical for them to wait years and years before seeing any sort of progress at all. In mild/moderate it's not really an issue because the kids do make progress, but I sympathize with the SSN teachers.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jan 4, 2014

    This is true for us also. We will basically be self-reporting on whether or not the students meet their goals. On the other hand, if they theoretically had someone else testing the students, I'd worry about them not trying their hardest/not doing their best with someone they don't know. Another issue is that our population is pretty transient. We are constantly getting kids from other districts/states. Some of them have wildly inappropriate goals. For example, I have a 2nd grader who is a complete non-reader. I got him about 2 months ago and he's just getting to the point where he knows all of his letters. One of his reading goals is to read 90 wpm on a 2nd grade passage. How am I supposed to be responsible for him meeting an impossible goal that I didn't write?

    It's definitely going to be interesting to see how it all turns out. This is a "hold harmless" year meaning that no one can be fired for the data portion of the evaluation. I'm honestly just so thrilled that they're not basing it off of state testing. My kids are so incredibly low...when you teach at a school that has a lot of low performers already, the kids that actually end up in sped truly have a lot of issues. When I taught gen ed my test scores were amazing. In the past I've only had a couple of sped students who've passed. It's not a fair comparison at all.
     
  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jan 4, 2014

    Do you automatically accept IEPs for all move-in students in your district? In my district, we typically "refuse" the transfer IEP and re-write it, using the transfer IEP as a guideline, to match our forms and service schedules. This allows us the opportunity change any goals. The only time we don't re-write it is when the transfer is from another building within our district. I'm glad we do this, because I've been in similar situations to you before, where the goal was completely unrealistic and/or difficult to progress-monitor. We've also had transfer IEPs saying that a student would have a para, but we have plenty of other students already in our building who function lower and don't get a para. Re-writing those IEPs is a lifesaver.

    Keep us posted on how this goes in your district and what they decide at the end of the year. I'm curious to see how it all works out in the long run, not just with your school but with sped teachers across the country. I truly can't think of a good way to evaluate sped teachers that is based on student achievement. :dunno:
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jan 4, 2014

    We only have 3 days to reject or accept the IEP, and I don't start working with the kid until we accept it, so I don't really know right away if the goals are inappropriate. We can only reject it and take the 30 days to write a new one if there's a question of placement or something or if we're considering drastically changing the hours. For example, we had a mild/moderate kid come in with 18 service hours per week. We don't provide anything near that for our mild/moderate students so we had to re-evaluate to see if he could do okay with less service ours in our program or go to a more restrictive program in another school in the district. We're not allowed to reject it just to rewrite the goals.
     
  10. Nate

    Nate Companion

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    Jan 16, 2014

    In my state at the moment, they're requiring data to measure improvement as a part of evaluations, but leave it to districts/schools to determine which data is needed. As a result, I'm evaluated based on a particular test I give my students routinely, so it hasn't been much of a burden to implement it. I think we're supposed to go to a state test (modified for SpEd students) in the next few years, but they've been behind schedule on those sorts of things for as long as state politicians have been pretending they know anything about education.
     
  11. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Jan 18, 2014

    That seems pretty ridiculous.

    In your state can't you call the parents, have them agree to amend the IEP over the phone, and then make the changes?

    I've had to amend one of my student's IEP 3 times this year. It really is a fairly quick and painless process if the parents are in agreement and don't want to meet.
     
  12. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Jan 18, 2014

    Thinking about goals, in my past life as a special ed teacher, our district always said that goals had to be based on grade level standards, even for kiddos working several years below grade level.
     
  13. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Jan 19, 2014

    This is a new thing for us. We're having a meeting Tuesday about how we all apparently suck at writing goals. Rumor has it our new district SPED person wants EVERYTHING based on Common Core and at grade level. I feel like this makes no sense. :dizzy:

    As for evaluation based on data, my kids take the MAP and are expected to meet their targets like everyone else. I'm not sure how my child who is cognitively delayed and a non-reader is supposed to achieve this. He has assessed at a Kindergarten level for YEARS. Do you really think his primary teachers didn't try to teach him? Or his 4th grade teacher? Or 5th? Or me in 6th and 7th grade?

    Can't chalk everything up to bad teaching. SPED kids are a wholllleeeee different ball game. Something like a standardized test could produce wildly different results depending on the day.
     
  14. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Our sped director in my first district started to insist that our goals be written to meet grade-level standards. She got so much flack from the principals that she finally gave up on it. It doesn't make sense. Everyone is expected to meet grade level standards, so that's not individualized...what would even be the point of having an IEP? Luckily my current sped director is really on board with writing goals that are attainable. She always talks about how with our sped population we need to look at growth and not proficiency.
     
  15. Nate

    Nate Companion

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    Jan 21, 2014

    They don't have extended Common Core goals in place (though we've been using some they built in Wisconsin as a framework), but the approach we've been taking is to work towards a grade level Common Core goal, but setting an achievable annual goal. For example, if the 7th grade CC LA goal is to write a persuasive essay with proper mechanics, spelling, and punctuation, that could be extended into an spelling goal (at an ability-appropriate grade level), a writing goal (the student will write an on-topic sentence with proper punctuation), or even a punctuation goal (the student will use ending punctuation correctly). The target is a grade-level common core goal, so the students are working towards success in the general ed curriculum, but they're still realistic.
     

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