For the Record: Special education teacher evaluation

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When CPS unveiled its new teacher evaluation system, one question was still unanswered: How would the new evaluations—which by law must take student test scores into account—affect special education students and their teachers?

Now, CPS’ plans are taking shape:

  • Students with disabilities who take the Illinois Alternate Assessment, an alternative test, will not be required to take the tests given to other students (the elementary NWEA test and the high school EPAS) that will be used to calculate teachers’ value-added scores. These students will continue to take the IAA and their teachers will be assigned a school-wide value-added score. The district is also assigning school-wide scores to teachers of non-tested subjects, such as art.

 

  • Special education teachers whose students do not take the IAA will be evaluated based on regular value-added test scores. “We anticipate that the value-added model will take into account the number of students and students’ various disabilities,” spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler says. “CPS will continue to work with our value-added vendor to determine the best and most fair way to control for students’ disabilities.”

 

  • Special education teachers will administer the new “performance tasks” the district is developing, which are supposed to offer a more holistic picture of learning than test scores. In cases where a disability may prevent a student from completing a task, the district will provide guidelines for administering a task that is at the student’s level.

 

  • During performance tasks, as well as NWEA and EPAS testing, students with disabilities will be eligible for accommodations.

 

The Chicago Teachers Union, which opposes the use of value-added scores, says the plan for special education teachers is flawed.

“In many cases, NWEA or EPAS may be appropriate. However, it may be inappropriate for more than just the 1 percent of students who take the Illinois Alternate Assessment,” Quest Center Coordinator Carol Caref says.  “It remains to be seen how the adaptations work in actual school settings.”