Special education program evaluation. I am getting on my raft and floating down those rapids. And I am taking you with me. Keep your mind and eyes open. Critical thinking required.
I have seen a lot of special education programs. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I have seen a few exceptional, many mediocre, and far too many ineffective and/or harmful.
I am a teacher advocate. I am the mother of two kids in special education programs. I am a veteran special education teacher. I evaluate special education programs and have worked with and evaluated student teachers.
So, how do we evaluate special education programming? Who is evaluating special education programming? What criteria is used to determine effectiveness?
Hang on to the raft and tighten your life jackets. I am about to answer those three questions and it ain’t pretty. Because all I have are questions.
How are were evaluating special education programming? Are we evaluating programs based on progress made on IEP goals? Are we evaluating programs based on test scores? Are we evaluating programs based on how many or few times kids are handed office referrals for misbehaviors? Are we evaluating programs based on how the teacher delivers a lesson using the same evaluation tool used for gen ed teachers?
Who is evaluating special education programs? Are seasoned and highly effective former special education teachers evaluating special education programs? Are administrators with no experience teaching special education evaluating programs? Are administrators with very specialized knowledge base and experience evaluating programs?
What criteria is used to determine if a special education program is effective? Is there a magic formula? Is the criteria different for different kinds of programs? Is the criteria based in anything authentic and real enough to determine success or not?
Oh, we have warm bodies in charge of minding the store, but more often than not they are uninformed and inexperienced and not really minding the store. As long as nobody is getting hurt in that special education room way down the hall and around the corner, things are probably just fine.
Well they aren’t.
At a time when we need independent thinking, innovative ideas, knowledgeable and experienced people minding our special education programs, we are in short supply of all that is needed to develop, evaluate and maintain effective special education programs.
Ponder my questions today, the discussion starts tomorrow. I hope you will join me, share your stories, ask your questions, offer solutions.