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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