Evaluating special ed teachers

Paul Hogan teaches severely handicapped children in New York City, yet he’s evaluated with a framework designed for teachers of mainstream students. This is “tantamount to punishing and penalizing teachers who go into this demanding, difficult and highly *specialized* type of teaching,” he writes. The union hasn’t helped.

A classroom teacher can earn a “highly effective” rating only if students are observed by the evaluator to formulate high-level questions and take  “responsibility for the success of the discussion.”

Many students in District 75, which serves severely handicapped children, can’t speak.

In some cases  these non-verbal kids may be trained to push buttons on  electronic devices to communicate basic needs. “Bathroom,” for example, represented on the device by an icon or pictograph, is a basic need; as is “Hungry”. There are various picture/symbol communication  systems (TEACCH, PECS, etc.) that are used with some success with some students.  This is the kind of thing we do in special ed.. . . And let me tell you: if you are talking about a non-verbal child, classified by the DOE as “untestable,” who is incontinent and has struggled from birth with tripelgic or quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy, you can take the Danielson Framework and burn it. It has no relevance to the  proper education of the child I just described.

Some students have IQs too low to measure. They don’t “initiate or adapt activities and projects to enhance their understanding.” They don’t exhibit “grade-level understanding.”

Exasperated Educator teaches and tests students with less-severe disabilities.


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  1. Such kids do not belong in the educational system at all; their needs should fall under HHS.

  2. Since it required the legislative process to ram relevant training requirements for special ed teachers down the throats of the nation’s school district it’s not much of a surprise that those same school districts aren’t all that interested in accurately gaging the skills of special ed teachers.

  3. Roger Sweeny says:

    It sounds like Mr. Hogan does not “teach” these young people much of anything that is academic. It is ridiculous to evaluate him as if he did. But then it is equally ridiculous to require him to have teacher certification or to have done any of the ordinary teacher training.

  4. It’s essential that these children be evaluated using the same standards as everyone else. Why? Because the whole idea behind “Algebra in 8th grade for all” “Latin for all” and “College for all” is that IQ has absolutely NO IMPACT on a student’s ability to learn complex subject matter. Therefore, if any student can take AP English or complete a four year degree, any student, regardless of IQ should be able to ‘form complex questions about grade level texts.’

    If the kids in district 75 are given a pass based on IQ, why shouldn’t kids with an IQ of 75? of 90? Is it fair to expect a kid whose IQ is in the average age to take AP English, which is, by definition, ‘above grade level’ work?

    If you believe that all children can learn the same material, regardless of innate intellectual ability, than the kids from district 75 are suffering from evil teachers, not pervasive disabilities which impact all aspects of their lives.

    • I love your sarcasm. 🙂 And it shows the absolute insanity of the ones in charge of our education system in this country.

      P.S. – Am I the only one concerned about the huge increase in such students nationwide in just a generation or two? Is there something in the food, air, or water doing this to people? (I’m guessing the answer is… Yes.)

      • I haven’t seen the data on the actual incidence, but the entry of such children into the public schools is relatively recent; since the 60s. Prior to that time, either they were cared for at home or were in the institutions that were closed in the push to return people to their communities. Placing them in an “academic” environment leads to idiocies as described above.

      • the commentariette says:

        And I’m quite confident the answer is … No.

        This effect is primarily the result of improvements in medical treatment, as well as in attitudes toward the disabled. These are children who would have died very young (and whose parents would have been expected to keep them quietly at home until they did).

        Food, air and water in developed countries is cleaner and healthier than it has been at any other time in human history.

  5. Crimson Wife says:

    As mom to a child with a developmental disability, I find it ludicrous that special ed teachers are judged on anything other than their ability to help their students make progress along their individual trajectories. My little one has made tremendous progress during the 2 years she has spent in Early Intervention/special ed preschool but she’s still behind compared to typical kids the same age. That’s not the fault of her teachers but rather the disability.

    • There are no real disabilities! Everything is the teacher’s fault. Even the decisions of politicans. /s

      • Crimson Wife says:

        Any teacher who can figure out a way to cure autism through teaching is worth a seven figure salary IMHO.

    • That’s because of your faulty understanding of the public education system.

      It wasn’t that long ago that a teaching certificate was considered to be adequate training to handle a class of spec ed kids and would be so today if various legislatures hadn’t stepped in and forced the edu-bureaucracy to employ spec ed teachers who had some inkling of what they were getting in to. Why then should it be puzzling that the same people who couldn’t be bothered to demand specialized training of special education teachers are still uninterested in determining a reasonable job description and a reasonable means of measuring attainment? “They” – the elective and administrative officials who run public education – don’t have to care so in many, many cases they don’t.

      • Mike in Texas says:

        Actually Allen, it wasn’t that long ago that kids with disabilities were institutionalized and never given an education.

        • I said that earlier, along with the unpalatable fact that some are uneducable (and some aren’t even trainable) and shouldn’t be in school. We are pouring money into the attempt to do the impossible, while ignoring the academic needs of the most able and motivated.