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Evaluating Students With Disabilities and Their Teachers: Use of Student Learning Objectives


by Jeanette Joyce, Judith R. Harrison & Danielle Murphy — 2016

Over the past decade, there has been a movement toward increased accountability, focusing on teacher performance, in U.S. education. The purpose of this article is to discuss student learning objectives (SLOs) as one component of high-stakes teacher evaluation systems, within the context of learners with special needs. We describe SLOs and their origin, reviewing how the current Race to the Top states (i.e., states awarded competitive funds) are using SLOs in inclusive classes where general education teachers teach both students with and without disabilities. We found substantial variation in how SLOs from different regions were designed to incorporate the progress of students’ teachers’ evaluation ratings. These variations were particularly evident in three areas where decisions must be made: the population to be targeted, the goals to be targeted, and the weight of the SLOs in teachers’ evaluations. Potential exists for these decisions to negate the positive effects of SLOs; however, in the systems that balance the stakes and the weight of the SLOs, there is potential for the SLOs to lead to improved inclusive practices and differentiated instruction.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 14, 2016, p. 1-22
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21542, Date Accessed: 12/15/2017 1:06:19 PM

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About the Author
  • Jeanette Joyce
    Rutgers University
    E-mail Author
    JEANETTE JOYCE is currently at Rutgers University researching teaching quality and assessment. Her work with Crouse and Gitomer on SLOs has appeared in the National Academies Press’s An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in a Changing Landscape (2015), and in the upcoming Student Growth Measures: Where Policy Meets Practice, edited by A. Amrein-Beardsley and K. Kappler Hewitt.
  • Judith Harrison
    Rutgers University
    E-mail Author
    JUDITH R. HARRISON is an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology in the special education program at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on teacher implementation and classroom-based services for youth with emotional and behavioral disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In addition, Harrison studies teacher acceptability and the feasibility of implementation of evidence-based interventions in classroom-based services. She is the co-author of one book, The Energetic Brain, and numerous peer-reviewed publications.
  • Danielle Murphy
    Rutgers University
    E-mail Author
    DANIELLE MURPHY has recently completed her Master’s in Special Education at Rutgers.
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