Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Andrea Wilson


Evidence suggests that current special education teacher evaluation systems may not accurately reflect these teachers' unique duties and responsibilities. In a Midwestern, urban school district, the teacher evaluation system was not adequately aligned with the performance expectations of special education teachers. Guided by Danielson's framework for teaching, this qualitative case study explored elementary school principals' perceptions of teacher evaluation approaches, perceived effectiveness of these approaches, applications of key indicators of teaching quality, and barriers preventing accurate evaluations of special education teachers' performance. An online survey comprised of closed- and open-ended questions was distributed to 445 principals in the district with 97 responding. Descriptive analysis of closed-ended items indicated 70% of respondents perceived current evaluation methods to be insufficiently differentiated for special education teachers' roles and 90% reported a need for additional measures of effectiveness to be used. Thematic analysis of open-ended survey responses confirmed the need for differentiated evaluation approaches to address a misalignment of key effectiveness indicators for special education teachers and revealed barriers to accurate evaluation including resource constraints. In response to these findings, a position paper with policy recommendation prescribed the revision of the current teacher evaluation practices to address the unique roles of special education teachers. Refining special education teacher evaluation practices may contribute to positive social change by aligning the evaluation process with special education teachers' duties and responsibilities, thereby improving teacher performance and potentially increasing student achievement over time.