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Full Text

Conceptions of Beginning Teacher Quality:
Models for Conducting Research
Prepared for the Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education

Linda Blanton
Florida International University

Paul T. Sindelar
Vivian Correa
University of Florida

Mike Hardman
John McDonnell
University of Utah

Karen Kuhel
University of Florida

July 2003
(COPSSE Document No. RS-6)

Center on Personnel Studies in










COPSSE research is focused on the preparation of special education professionals and its
impact on beginning teacher quality and student outcomes. Our research is intended to inform
scholars and policymakers about advantages and disadvantages of preparation alternatives and
the effective use of public funds in addressing personnel shortages.

In addition to our authors and reviewers, many individuals and organizations have contributed
substantially to our efforts, including Drs. Erling Boe of the University of Pennsylvania and
Elaine Carlson of WESTAT. We also have benefited greatly from collaboration with the National
Clearinghouse for the Professions in Special Education, the Policymakers Partnership, and their
parent organizations, the Council for Exceptional Children and the National Association of State
Directors of Special Education.

The Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, H325Q000002, is a cooperative
agreement between the University of Florida and the Office of Special Education Programs of
the U. S. Department of Education. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the
views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of other organizations imply
endorsement by them.
Recommended citation:
Blanton, L., Sindelar, P.T., Correa, V., Hardman, M., McDonnell, J., & Kuhel, K. (2003).
Conceptions of beginning teacher quality: Models of conducting research. (COPSSE
Document Number RS-6). Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, Center on Personnel
Studies in Special Education.

Additional Copies may be obtained from:
COPSSE Project
P.O. Box 117050
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
IDEAS 352-392-0701
thatVork 352-392-2655 (Fax)
U. S. Office of Special
Education Programs There are no copyright restrictions on this document; however
please credit the source and support of the federal funds when
copying all or part of this document.


A b s t r a c t ............................................................................................................

In t r o d u c t io n ..................................................................................................................................................... 5

Methodology: Relevant Literature............................ 6

The Landscape of Teacher Quality in General and Special Education ......... 7

Defining and Measuring Teacher Quality................................. 11

Models and Measures of Beginning Teacher Quality.................... 13

Beginning Teachers Serving Severe Disabilities................ 25

Beginning Teachers in Transition Programs ..................... ......... ...................30

Beginning Teachers Serving Culturally Diverse and English Language
Learners........ ......................................................................................................................................................... 33

Summary and Recommendations .........................42

R E F E R E N C E S .................................................................. 4 4

APPENDIX....... ........................................................................................................................................................ 53


Table 1. Models and Measures of Beginning Teacher Quality ................................15
Table 2. Models and Measures of Beginning Teacher Quality in the Area of Severe
Disabilities and Transition.................. 28
Table 3. Nine Essential Indicators That Could Assess a Culturally Responsive
T e a c h e r ............................................................................................................


Figure 1. Influences on Teacher Q quality ............................................... 12


Defining teacher quality is no easy task. Reaching consensus on a definition, even among teacher
educators and researchers, has proved elusive. Efforts to define teacher quality in special
education are further complicated by the variety of roles special educators play in schools and by
the diversity of the children they serve. Nonetheless, teacher education researchers need clear
models to guide the development of dependent measures for their work. In this paper, we
consider traditions of research on teaching and how conceptions of good teaching evolved as
traditions changed. We present various models for understanding teacher quality in special
education and analyze their conceptual richness and technical soundness for use in research. The
models are evaluated in terms of their usefulness for addressing research questions within the
five genres for studying teacher education identified by Kennedy (1991).


Research increasingly shows that teacher quality is the essential factor in student learning
(Darling-Hammond, 1999; Wenglinsky, 2000). On the surface, this fact may seem useful when
making decisions about how to improve schools and student learning. Unfortunately, the term
teacher quality means different things to different groups (e.g., legislators, parents, teacher
educators, researchers). The term even carries different meanings within these groups. For
example, educators in general education and special education have a history of approaching
teacher quality differently. In recent years, however, the work of the two groups has begun to
intersect, creating potential for the fields to consider teacher quality in similar ways. This paper
reviews the trajectory of general and special teacher education conceptions of teacher quality and
uses this context to present models for understanding teacher quality in special education.
Further, the discussion critiques the appropriateness of the models for conducting research in
special education teacher quality. Finally, the paper reviews teacher quality as it relates to
specific populations in special education. The summary provides recommendations for future
research on teacher quality in special education.


For this research synthesis, a number of strategies were used to locate relevant literature through
electronic databases (predominantly ERIC and PsychINFO) for studies and policy papers
published since 1990. As a first strategy, we cross-referenced possible major and minor
descriptor terms with the ERIC Thesaurus to determine the most specific descriptor terms
possible. Our initial terms and the approximate number of abstracts identified were teacher
effectiveness (20,000), teacher competencies (12,000), and teacher evaluation (260). Some
obvious terms (e.g., teacher quality and teacher effectiveness) were not listed as keywords in the
ERIC Thesaurus.

Second, we conducted searches to reduce the number of possible abstracts by using descriptors.
combinations of the following descriptors: teacher effectiveness, teacher competencies, teacher
evaluation, and teacher collaboration with educational quality, teacher improvement, knowledge
base for teci llhing. teaching skills, teacher competency testing. teacher education, special
education, general education, and teamwork. Because of the volume of documents, general
searches were limited to 1990-2001. Publications within this period provided the most current
information on teacher quality and information for ancestral searches. Additional electronic
database searches were done with these keywords: Praxis II, TIES, COKER, Observations adj
keyed, and CARF.

Third, web site searches were conducted for: The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC),
Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), The National Board for
Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), The National Center for Education Statistics
(NCES), The Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education (SPeNSE), Teachers of English to
Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), The National Commission on Teaching and America's
Future (NCTAF), and various university-related sites.


Everyone has heard anecdotes about great teachers and their impact. Although such descriptions
have a long, rich history, the history of researching teaching and qualities that produce great
teachers is relatively short. Early studies of teachers and the factors accounting for quality in
teaching were conducted in the 1940s, 1950s, and into the 1960s when most researchers focused
on personal characteristics and experience variables (e.g., verbal ability, warmth, intelligence,
educational background, and knowledge of subject) (Cochran-Smith, 2001; Shulman, 1986).
Although a few such variables have continued to be discussed in the literature as connected
empirically to teacher quality, this line of research diminished in the mid-1960s, giving way to
new approaches to the study of teachers and their teaching.

The 1960s and 1970s could be considered boom years for research on teaching when many
researchers concentrated on the search for specific teacher actions that would connect directly to
student learning (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1990; Shulman, 1986). This process-product line of
research on teaching, which was based on behavioral psychology and child development,
focused on breaking complex tasks into easily identified parts (Berliner, 1989; Shulman, 1986).
The findings of this research tradition and variations continue to influence teaching and teacher
education today. For example, effective teachers were found to: (a) teach classroom rules and
monitor their expectations, (b) provide clear explanations and ample instructional time, (c)
maximize the opportunity for students to respond during instruction and seatwork, (d) use a brisk
pace to present lessons and present new material in small steps, and (e) provide regular feedback
(Berliner, 1984; Christenson, Ysseldyke, & Thurlow, 1989; Englert, Tarrant, & Mariage, 1992;
Good, 1979; Medley, 1978; Rosenshine, 1986; Shulman, 1986).

The findings of process-product studies greatly influenced school reform agendas during this
period. The language of effective teaching and effective schools was peppered with such
terminology as time on task and brisk-paced lessons. Even at state levels, large-scale programs
that included evaluations of teachers on effective teaching components (e.g., time on task) were
implemented. The use of teaching research to influence reform agendas, although positive in
some ways, greatly concerned many educators because of what was seen as an over-
simplification of research findings and a failure to dig more deeply into the meaning of the
findings (Doyle, 1983; Shulman, 1986). The findings were often reduced to short statements for
teacher evaluation instruments to be administered by school principals who may not have
understood the research basis for the practices being evaluated.

The growing knowledge base on effective teaching and concerns over the use of process-product
findings expanded research into the complexities of teaching, classrooms, and schools (Berliner,
1989; Doyle, 1983). Referred to by several terms-learning-to-teach research, classroom
ecology research, and interpretive research-this large, varied program of research focused on
understanding the complexities of teachers' actions and interactions with students and contexts
(Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1990; Kagan, 1992; Kagan, 1988; Wideen, Mayer-Smith, & Moon,
1998). In contrast to process-product research, these lines of research are grounded in cognitive
psychology and represented by a diversified array of approaches to the study of teaching
(Berliner, 1989). During the 1970s, 1980s, and into the 1990s, the literature grew rich with
research on teacher planning/decision-making (Borko & Niles, 1987; Reynolds, 1992;

Shavelson, 1983), teacher thinking (Carter, 1990; Reynolds, 1992), teacher beliefs (Pajares,
1992; Richardson, 1996; Wideen et al., 1998), and novice versus expert teaching (Berliner, 1986;
Leinhardt, 1983; Reynolds, 1992), among other topics.

During this period, research on teacher knowledge of subject matter and of teaching and learning
expanded (Darling-Hammond, 1999; Kennedy, 1996). Research focused on learning how to
teach a discipline (e.g., reading or math vs. generic teaching), application of cognitive science,
and use of cooperative groups or socially mediated instruction, to name a few.

Similar to process-product research and accompanying reform agendas earlier, these expanded
lines of research influenced school reform and subsequent practices. The 1970s and 1980s
brought a new wave of school reform that focused on concepts as teacher empowerment and site-
based management (Firestone & Bader, 1991; Rowan, 1990). The strength and influence of this
wave even led to great debates about the worth of process-product research findings (Gage &
Needels, 1989; Nuthall & Alton-Lee, 1990).

Even as research on teaching accumulated and the field gained greater insights into teacher
quality, growing dissatisfaction with schools and teachers by policymakers and the public led to
a third wave of research and school reform. Much of this dissatisfaction grew from evidence that
federal programs and reform efforts made little difference in the achievement gaps between poor
ethnic minority groups and wealthier students. Led by A Nation at Risk (Gardner, Larsen, Baker,
Campbell, Crosby, Foster, Jr., et al., 1983) and ending with What Matters Most: Teaching for
America's Future (Report of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future
[NCTAF], 1996), reform reports focused on higher standards for schools, teachers, and teacher

The standards focus of the 1980s and 1990s, which sought to professionalize the field, resulted
in: (a) major revision of the standards used by the National Council for the Accreditation of
Teacher Education (NCATE); (b) national standards for beginning teaching (INTASC); and (c)
national standards for accomplished teaching (NBPTS) (Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1996). At
issue was strengthening the major quality control mechanisms for the profession: accreditation,
licensure, advanced certification. Like other professions (e.g., medicine), it was assumed that
stronger quality control mechanisms would assure better quality teachers.

Currently, accountability and performance standards dominate the teacher quality agenda.
Standards are being revised (e.g., NCATE, 2000) to focus on outputs-holding institutions
accountable for providing data to show that their teacher candidates can do what the institution
claims they can do-rather than inputs-specifying which courses teacher candidates take, and
other similar expectations. Even federal requirements (i.e., Title II) are in place to collect data
from states on the quality of candidates exiting teacher education programs and entering the
teaching profession.

Teacher Education Research and Reform

Each phase of research on teaching and school reform has been accompanied by calls for change
and reform in teacher education (Zeichner, 1999). The process-product era contributed to the
pressure on teacher educators to teach components found effective in the literature and being
used to evaluate teachers. Competencies and competency-based approaches dominated state

guidelines for licensure and offerings in teacher preparation. Similarly, the outcomes of the
research grounded in cognitive psychology resulted in a focus on such components as content
knowledge and specialized content pedagogy. Most recently, standards-based reform has held
colleges, schools, and departments of education accountable to show with data that their
candidates can do what the unit promises.

Like teaching, the process of teacher education has a research base. Research findings support
the approaches used to prepare a quality teacher to enter the classroom (Humphrey, Adelman,
Esch, Riehl, Shields, & Tiffany, 2000; Kagan, 1992; Kennedy, 1996; Putnam & Borko, 2000;
Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001; Yarger & Smith, 1990). For example, we know that
field experiences are an important component of a teacher education program (Putnam & Borko).
Most importantly, research evidence is growing that teachers who are fully prepared in university
teacher education programs and fully licensed by the state are more successful with students than
teachers who enter the profession via other pathways (Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1996).

The Intersection of Special Education and General Education

To what extent has special education been part of the research programs on teaching? To what
extent has general education drawn on the research programs in special education? How near or
far are the fields of special education and general education in their conceptions of and
approaches to teacher quality? Although the answers to these questions are not simple, a review
of literature and current practice reveals that the distances between the fields have narrowed in
recent years.

When research programs on teaching were flourishing in the general education community in the
1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, special educators were consumed with advocating and assuring the
rights of students with disabilities. Research in special education focused on identifying
specialized methods for teaching students with disabilities and exploring the efficacy of different
settings for students with disabilities. Focus on specialized methods occurred within groups
affiliated with different disability categories, often following different research and teacher
education paths. With a focus on categories (e.g., learning disabilities, mental retardation, severe
disabilities), special educators often worked (and still work) in independent communities where
the work of one group seldom influences the work of another. The disconnectedness within
special education added to the overall disconnection from general education-a field with very
different research goals. Although several initiatives in the 1970s and 1980s encouraged
connections between special and general education (e.g., federally funded initiatives such as
Dean's Grants), differences in research goals persisted.

Given the different paths that general and special education followed, it is apparent why their
dominant research programs were slow to influence each other. As process-product research
gained momentum in the general education community, some special education researchers drew
on this research program to conduct similar studies in special education (Englert, 1983; Englert,
1984a, 1984b; Englert & Thomas, 1982; Gersten & Woodward, 1990; Morsink, Soar, Soar, &
Thomas, 1986; Rieth & Evertson, 1988; Sindelar, Smith, Harriman, Hale, & Wilson, 1986). The
results of these studies and special education's research base on learning and instruction built a
powerful case for the value of the direct instruction approach for students in high-incidence
categories (e.g., learning disabilities).

In addition to process-product research, special education researchers borrowed from other
research traditions (e.g., Brantlinger, 1996; Fuchs, Fuchs, & Bishop, 1992; Nowacek & Blanton,
1996) in similar ways. This line of inquiry has not produced findings as consistent as results
following the process-product program. Although special education has been influenced by both
process-product research and other broad programs of inquiry, researchers have conducted far
fewer special education studies and only after the programs were well underway in general

As explorations of teacher quality shifted to an accountability/standards focus, it was apparent
that the standards in special education and general education differed greatly. Standards
developed by national groups for beginning teachers (INTASC) and for advanced teacher
certification (NBPTS) were broadly stated and driven by principles. Standards in special
education (Council for Exceptional Children [CEC], 1998) were lengthy listings of knowledge
and skills, including sets of knowledge and skills for the various categories (e.g., learning
disabilities) in the field.

The move to address teacher quality by focusing on standards was part of general education's
wake-up-call that all teachers are responsible for teaching all students, including students with
disabilities. For example, NCATE's 1983 revised standards required all teacher education
programs to include content on teaching students with disabilities. In addition to existing federal
requirements (e.g., PL 94-142) to teach students with disabilities in the least restrictive
environment, such changes in standards made it clear that general educators needed to draw on
the special education knowledge base. Like special educators, general educators had rarely used
special education research and practice to inform their own research and practice.

Recent revisions of national teaching and teacher education standards have highlighted how the
fields of general and special education have begun to intersect. In addition to NCATE, other
national standards (INTASC and NBPTS) make it clear that all teachers are responsible for all
students in their classrooms, including those with disabilities. Likewise, special education's
national standards have been revised (CEC, 2001) to place greater emphasis on the need to know
the knowledge base in general education (e.g., possess knowledge of content areas similar to that
of general educators). It is debatable whether these standards are put into practice at the level
intended. For example, general education's use of a term like all can be so broad that
interpretations will vary from one location to another.


Defining teacher quality is no easy task. Reaching consensus on a definition, even among teacher
educators and researchers, is likely to be impossible. Definitions of good teaching range in their
focus, e.g., the actions of the teacher, the knowledge a teacher possesses, or the creativity of the
teacher. As noted by Porter (1989), "the more that is known about good teaching, the more
complicated good teaching appears to be" (p. 344).

It goes without saying that any good definition of teacher quality should include a focus on
student learning and the teacher's ability to influence learning positively. Further, the teacher's
ability to influence student learning always involves teachers' thinking and observed
performances that link to student learning. Complicating any definition are many other factors
(e.g., school and community factors, the teacher's background, and teacher preparation) that may
directly or indirectly contribute to student learning. (Refer to Figure 1 for an illustration of
influences on teacher quality.)

The shifting goals of schooling are adding to the complexity of definitions of teacher quality
(Porter, 1989). The goals expected of schools depend, in part, on the political climate, the
priorities for federal funding, and other external influences dominating thinking about schooling
at any given time. The role of policy makers at every level-national, state, and local-cannot be
underestimated. For example, a recent policy brief by Reichardt (2001) addressed the levers or
strategies that policy makers might use at various stages of a teacher's career (i.e., preservice,
recruitment and selection, inservice, and retention) to influence teacher quality. As one example,
the levers that affect the quality of preservice education include: (a) scholarships, loans, and loan
forgiveness as incentives to enter teaching; (b) licensure/certification requirements; (c)
accreditation of teacher preparation programs; and (d) models of exemplary practices and

Regardless of how difficult it is to encompass the concept of teacher quality, researchers and
teacher educators need clear models to continue to build strong research programs with measures
and approaches that can be used to understand teacher quality more fully. Such models have
been more clearly articulated in general education than in special education. Given special
education's history of limited research on teacher quality, exploration of existing models and
development of new models for special education are imperative. This grows in importance as
general and special education teachers work more collaboratively in schools.

Figure 1.









In this section, we evaluate models and measures of beginning teacher quality for conducting
research in special education. The five we evaluate are process-product measures, teacher
evaluation checklists, standards, large-scale surveys, and commercially available observations.
We discuss the general problem of teacher assessment and the particular problem created by the
use of student achievement as a measure of teacher quality. Although some consider it a gold
standard (Greenwood & Maheady, 1997; Walsh, 2001), we consider alternatives, or what
Kennedy (1999) described as "approximations to indicators of student outcomes" (p. 345). For
each model and measure previously introduced, we consider the teacher education research
genres (Kennedy, 1996) to which it applies and evaluate it against a set of criteria for technical
adequacy and practicality.

The use of student outcomes, particularly achievement, as a measure of teacher quality enjoys
strong support from both education professionals (Greenwood & Maheady, 1997) and the policy
community (Walsh, 2001). The widespread and ready availability of standardized achievement
test scores, the fruit of state policy on high-stakes assessment, has fostered interest in their use as
an outcome measure in research on teacher quality. Although policy makers have always been
interested in the impact of their initiatives on student learning, it was previously difficult to
generate an adequately large database for analysis. High-stakes assessment has changed all that.

In a discussion of policy research measures, Kennedy (1999) commented on the difficulty of
linking policy initiatives to student outcomes (especially when the outcome of interest is
complex student learning) and described approximation methods. She argued that scores on
standardized achievement tests, although first-order approximations, fail to represent complex
student learning fully. Another first-order approximation, classroom observations may be better,
particularly when the observation reports describe "the kind of intellectual work that teachers are
asking of their students" (p. 346). However, observations suffer from other shortcomings. There
are no standard observation practices. Due to the time that observation requires, typically only
small samples of teacher performance are obtained.

As a consequence, according to Kennedy, researchers tend to rely on second-level
approximations, or "situated descriptions of teaching" (p. 349). Second-level approximations
include vignettes (with teachers' responses) and teachers' daily logs. Questionnaires and
interviews constitute third-level approximations, and personal testimonies are fourth-level
approximations. Each level has advantages and disadvantages. However, the more removed a
measure is from complex student outcomes, advantages are limited to the practical
considerations of ease of administration and low cost and technical adequacy is compromised. In
Kennedy's framework, the measures we consider in this paper are either first-level (process-
product measures, checklists, and PRAXIS III) or third-level (Schools and Staffing Survey
[SASS] and SPeNSE) approximations.

Kennedy's argument about complex student learning is only one criticism of the use of
standardized test scores in assessing school or teacher quality. Of equal concern, especially for
teachers, is the relationship between previous learning and test scores in any given year. Clearly,

1 )

students who score poorly on standardized tests are likely to score poorly again in the future.
Teachers in classrooms with low-achieving students will compare unfavorably with colleagues
with high-achieving students, regardless of the quality of their teaching in a given year. Teachers
rightly complain that judgments based exclusively on scores from single administrations of
achievement tests disadvantage teachers with large numbers of low-performing students.

In special education, the problem becomes more difficult, because classroom teachers and
special educators share responsibility for educating most students with disabilities. Thus,
determining which teacher is responsible for what learning may be impossible to do reliably.
Furthermore, special education teachers' roles vary from school to school and, for some teachers,
from student to student. A special education teacher may work with a single group for much of
the day, work with several groups of students for short periods in a resource room, or consult
with some students' classroom teachers in planning accommodations and adaptations. We do not
know what can be learned about the quality of special education teachers' work from the
achievement test scores of their students. With the possible exception of special education
teachers in self-contained classes, the relationship between special education teacher quality and
student outcomes is tenuous.

In this paper, the models and measures of beginning teacher quality that we consider are
approximations of student outcomes. We wish a more definitive link were established between
what special education teachers do and how much their students learn. At the same time, we
recognize the importance of identifying approximations that are accurate and credible for
teachers, researchers, and policy makers alike.

Evaluation Criteria

The six criteria that we use to evaluate the models and measures of beginning teacher quality are
utility, credibility, comprehensiveness, generality, soundness, and practicality. These criteria are
represented as U, C, CO, G, S, and P in Table 1. A plus (+) indicates that the criterion is
regarded as a strength; minus (-) indicates a weakness; and plus-minus () indicates both positive
and negative evidence. The table lists specific examples of five general classes of models and
measures, appropriate research genres, and the criteria used to evaluate each model.

Some criteria are pragmatic. With regard to utility, we need to know whether models and
measures have been used by other researchers. With a previously used measure, we can benefit
from colleagues' experience with it, and their insight and advice may help us decide on
appropriate measures for our own research. For practicality, also a pragmatic consideration, we
need to understand costs, training requirements, and the developmental work required to adapt an
existing model or measure for our own purposes. All other considerations being equal, cheap,
easy-to-master, and readily adaptable are preferred qualities.

Some of our criteria are technical in nature. Soundness is the extent to which a measure is
reliable and valid. Credibility is face validity, distinguished from soundness to highlight the
relativity of the notion. Although models and measures must be credible to the researchers using
them, we are equally concerned with the credibility of a given model or measure for other
stakeholder groups-most importantly, teachers, administrators, policy makers, and families. In

1 A

this sense, credibility may be inferred from what we know about how a model or measure was
developed and validated. We may infer credibility for stakeholder groups to the extent that they
were involved in the development or validation process.

Table 1. Models and Measures of Beginning Teacher Quality


1 2 3 4 5 U CR CO G S P

Process-Product COKER
Stallings / / / + + + +
Teacher Englert,
Evaluation Tarrant, &
Checklists Mariage
Stanovich &
and / / / + + + + +
Haager et al.
Standards CEC
and Skills1 / / / + + + +
and Skills

Representations SASS
Quality in SPeNSE/
Commercially PRAXIS III
Available / / + + + + +
Neither CEC nor INTASC currently offers an assessment process.
Key: 1 = Searches for factors that influence student outcomes
2 = Comparative studies of licensed and unlicensed teachers
3 = Follow-up surveys
4 = Experiments
5 = Case studies of change over time
U = utility; CR = credibility; CO = comprehensiveness; G = generality; S = soundness; P = practicality
* designed for student evaluation
** designed for research

Generality and comprehensiveness refer to a model's theoretical foundation. Generality requires
us to consider how well a single model of beginning teacher quality represents the full range of
contexts in which a special education teacher may work. Does the model fairly represent the
work of consulting teachers, resource room teachers, and teachers in self-contained classes?
Does the model fairly represent the work of teachers of students with high-incidence disabilities
as well as students whose disabilities are more significant? Models that allow for comparability
across contexts simplify the aggregation of research findings. Comprehensiveness is derived
from the richness and breadth of the model or measure. A better model or measure taps
knowledge and dispositions in addition to skills. A better model or measure includes
management skills, reflection, and decision-making in addition to discrete teaching
performances. Finally, a better model or measure incorporates the work that teachers do with
each other, families, and communities.

In addition to discussing technical, pragmatic, and conceptual criteria for models and measures
of beginning teacher quality, we will consider the research genres in which each fits. As noted
previously, we describe teacher education research genres using Kennedy's (1996) framework as
a guide.

Teacher Education Research Genres

Kennedy described five traditions in teacher education research, considering within each genre
the teacher education elements studied and the measures typically used. She also analyzed the
credibility of the logic underlying each. The five genres are: (a) identification of factors that
influence student outcomes, (b) comparative studies of licensed and unlicensed teachers, (c)
follow-up surveys, (d) experiments, and (e) case studies of change over time.

Factors that influence student learning. Studies of factors that influence student learning
commonly use large-scale multiple regression models to analyze the statistical relationships
between a set of predictor variables (including teacher education variables, e.g., licensure) and a
criterion variable (e.g., reading achievement). Such studies focus on the "policy parameters"
(Kennedy, 1996, p. 124) of teacher education (e.g., number of required credits), and student
achievement is typically the criterion of interest. An effort is made to identify variables that
contribute to achievement and those that do not. In spite of limitations with the genre, studies of
factors that influence student learning have the distinct advantage in the current policy context of
using achievement as the criterion.

Comparisons. Comparisons of licensed and unlicensed teachers typically involve observations
of classroom practice or performance on teacher assessments. In studies of this genre, differences
favoring fully qualified teachers are expected. Such comparisons test the value of teacher
preparation explicitly. One problem with this logic is that teacher education is treated as a
consistent and uniform phenomenon, which it clearly is not. Furthermore, comparative studies
also presume substantial differences in preparation, although even unlicensed teachers often have
some teacher preparation.

Follow-up studies. Follow-up studies are familiar to all readers of special education teacher
education research. Researchers operating within this genre presume that teachers themselves are


reliable sources of information about their practices and how they were acquired. Such studies
may focus on components of teacher education and thereby allow for more precision than either
of the first two genres in which teacher education is considered to be uniform and consistent.
Follow-ups that involve telephone or paper-and-pencil surveys can be administered widely for
little cost. With large samples that permit stratification, teacher groups can be differentiated on
key subject variables (e.g., graduates of 4-year vs. 5-year programs). Follow-up studies typically
are conducted with graduates of a single teacher education program and are most useful for
faculty there.

Experiments. In experimental studies of teacher education, a skill is taught in different
fashions with different groups. Differences in skill performance may be attributed to differences
in teacher education pedagogy. Experimental studies enjoy several advantages, including clear
focus on teacher education components and assessment of outcomes (e.g., the skill being taught).
Among the disadvantages, such studies focus on training discrete, narrowly defined skills, which
are part-but not the sum of-teacher quality. Absent from experimental research are cognition,
reflection, and decision-making-the elements that are thought to make effective teaching a
coherent whole.

Case studies. In case studies of teacher and teacher candidate change, candidates are
examined at the beginning and end of their programs, and possibly more often. Differences on
these assessments are used to describe the process through which a teacher develops. Candidates'
knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs are assessed. If cost were no consideration, observations of
classroom practice also could be used within this genre. In good case study research, theory is
used to generate and organize questions and to suggest directions for change.

Models and Measures

The five traditions of assessing beginning teacher quality are: (a) empirical representations of
effective practice derived from process-product research; (b) more complete and holistic
representations, exemplified by checklists developed by Englert and her colleagues (1992) and
others (Stanovich & Jordan, 1998); (c) standards; (d) representations of effective practice from
large-scale surveys, e.g., SASS, SPeNSE; and (e) PRAXIS III, the Educational Testing Service's
(ETS) observation system for classroom teachers. We measure these traditions against our six
evaluation criteria and consider the genres for which each would be appropriate.

Observations of effective practice in process-product research. In the typical
process-product study, teachers are observed at work in their classrooms. Teaching and
classroom interactions typically are described in a series of low-inference behavioral categories,
often mutually exclusive and exhaustive, so that any event may be coded in only one way. The
manner in which the stream of classroom instructional events and interactions is parsed reflects
an empirical or theoretical conception of teaching. Code frequencies or durations are aggregated
across teachers and related to achievement measures. Relationships between patterns of
classroom performance (or interactions) and student outcomes are determined statistically.

To illustrate, in Algozzine, Morsink, and Algozzine's (1988) study of instruction in self-
contained special education classrooms, the researchers used the Classroom Observation Keyed

1 -7

for Effectiveness Research (COKER). Medley, Coker, and Soar (1984) described the COKER as
an objective, low-inference process for observing the ongoing flow of student/teacher
interaction. Based on its history of use in general education process-product research and
information from the manual, Algozzine et al. judged the COKER to be technically adequate for
their purposes. The system requires trained observers who code all of the keys they observe in a
given time period. In the COKER lexicon, keys are statements describing discrete teacher
actions-what others might call competencies, performances, or behaviors. For example, one
key under Learner Reinforcement and Involvement is "maintains environment in which students
are actively involved, working on task." (Medley et al., 1984, p. 162). In this study, trained
observers conducted 12 5-minute observations/classroom, a total of 60 minutes. The COKER is a
complex system, and Algozzine et al. used three of its Competency Dimensions: (1) Instructional
Strategies, Techniques, or Methods (7 keys), (2) Communication with Learners (5 keys), and (3)
Learner Reinforcement and Involvement (5 keys). On the basis of these COKER observations,
Algozzine et al. reported that the teachers in their study performed adequately, but not
differently, based on the classifications of their students.
Process-product measures like the COKER seem well suited to comparison studies of licensed
and unlicensed teachers and longitudinal studies of change, although using such complex
systems would be costly and labor-intensive. Process product measures like the COKER can be
used in experiments, as in Stallings' (1980) work on beginning reading instruction. Teachers
were assessed before and after an intervention designed specifically to affect how they allocated
time across the same categories being observed.
We have alluded to the high cost of repeated administrations of process-product measures and
other factors that limit their practicality. For example, extensive training is required for COKER
observers, and the need to repeat training over the duration of a longitudinal study further
diminishes its practicality. Furthermore, whether an established system will be sensitive to the
changes that a particular program is intended to produce is unknown. The credibility of a
process-product measure like the COKER may derive from professional consensus, research on
effective teaching, or theory. COKER keys, originally developed through professional
consensus, were validated in subsequent research (Medley et al., 1984). Its use in special
education classrooms required a leap of faith by Algozzine et al. (1988), but the generality of the
system was borne out by its utility to the authors. As a limitation, conceptions of teacher quality
derived from the COKER-or from process-product measures in general-are based on
observations of teachers' actions and fail to tap other dimensions of what we know to be
complex performance.
Overall, process-product measures have strengths and weaknesses. Foremost among their
strengths are the potential for highly reliable measurement of the relationships between items on
the observation system and key criterion variables, e.g., achievement. Among the weaknesses of
process-product measures is the reliance on teachers' actions to the exclusion of internal events
available through interviews, logs, and other measures. Their use also can be impractical,
particularly when extensive training is required for reliable administration or research designs
that necessitate repeated observations over time.
Checklists for expanding concepts of effective practice. In 1992, Englert, Tarrant, and
Mariage described a series of detailed, moderate-inference checklists they developed for
evaluating field experience students. Taken together, Englert et al.'s checklists constitute a rich,
detailed model of beginning teacher quality. In this section, we consider both the original


checklists and a research adaptation developed by Stanovich and Jordan (1998) for their study of
the relationship of teachers' and principals' beliefs about inclusion and effective teaching

The first four checklists described by Englert et al., which derived from process-product
relationships, covered classroom management (15 items), time management (10 items), lesson
presentation (27 items), and seatwork management (9 items). All items were scored on a 1-5
scale, ranging from Needs Work (1), through Satisfactory (2-3), and Excellent (4-5). The authors
offered no guidance about how long an observation must be conducted before reliable judgments
can be made, nor did they provide other evidence of technical adequacy.

To these process-product checklists, Englert et al. added additional items that "involve analyses
of the qualitative dimensions of instruction and the social contexts in which students are
instructed" (pp. 69-70). This enriched process-product conceptions by adding items derived from
four principles of effective teaching: (a) instruction should be embedded in meaningful and
purposive contexts, (b) classroom dialogue may be used to promote self-regulated learning, (c)
teachers must demonstrate responsiveness to students' instructional needs and interests, and (d)
in classroom learning communities, "student-to-student and teacher-to-teacher discourse.
foster deeper conceptual understandings" (p. 80). To incorporate these constructivist principles,
Englert et al. added an Observation Checklist for Examining the Contexts for Higher-order
Learning corresponding to the four principles: meaningful contexts (4 items), classroom
dialogues (11 items), responsive instruction (8 items), and classroom community (5 items).

Stanovich and Jordan (1998) adapted Englert et al.'s checklists by identifying items that would
be most readily and predictably observed in a half day, using 8 of Englert et al.'s items to
constitute a classroom management scale, 8 to create a time management scale, and 11 to create
a lesson presentation scale. They also added 4 items on the degree of inclusion. Trained
observers rated teachers' performance on these 31 items after a half-day observation. Items were
scored as consistent, inconsistent, or not observed. Total scores were used as the criterion
measure of effective teaching. All teachers were rated by two observers, and agreement between
observer pairs averaged nearly 80 %. The English-Language Learner Classroom Observation
Instrument (Haager, Gersten, Baker, & Graves, 2003) was designed specifically for observing
literacy instruction by teachers of English language learners. This instrument, whose roots also
may be found in process-product research and has been validated for research purposes, will be
discussed in the section on culturally diverse and English-language learners.

Checklists of this sort lend themselves to the same kinds of teacher education studies as process-
product observational measures, to which they are closely akin. These seem appropriate for use
in comparative studies, experiments, and case studies of change. Stanovich and Jordan's
adaptation and use enhance the utility of the original checklists, which seem impractically long
and elaborate for research purposes. Furthermore, Stanovich and Jordan demonstrated that their
abbreviated versions can be used reliably and that short form total scores were related to two
criterion measures: teacher attitudes and school culture.

The Englert et al. paper was the most frequently cited paper to appear in Teacher Education and
Special Education through 1995 (Tulbert, Sindelar, Correa, & La Porte, 1996), suggesting its

strong credibility in an audience of teacher educators. By intention, the full-length checklists are
more comprehensive than process-product measures, including considerations of contextual
factors, interactions, and community, notably missing from behavioral observation systems and
the abbreviated version of Stanovich and Jordan. The checklists would seem to have wide
applicability in assessing teachers of students with high-incidence disabilities. Englert's
important work advanced special education thinking about what constitutes effective teaching.
The ideas she and her colleagues introduced a decade ago seemed quite radical indeed. At a
practical level, however, the checklists have never been widely used for research purposes,
Stanovich and Jordan's work notwithstanding.
Standards for teacher quality. The CEC began promulgating teaching standards in the early
1990s and in 2001 published a revised edition of The CEC Standards for the Preparation of
Special Educators. This document begins with narrative descriptions of 10 content standards:
foundations; development and characteristics of learners; individual learning differences;
instructional strategies; learning environments and social interactions; communication;
instructional planning; assessment; professional and ethical practice; and collaboration. Each
content standard is then described in terms of the knowledge and skill competencies it comprises.

Fifty-four (54) knowledge and 72 skill statements make up the common core. Additional sets
describe generic practice with students with high-incidence (individualized general curriculum)
and severe disabilities (individualized independence curriculum). Specialized practice is
presented in six categorical areas and two additional areas-early childhood and transition
specialist-defined by the age levels of the students served and the nature of programming
appropriate to those levels. A teacher who completes a generic program for students with high-
incidence disabilities is expected to be proficient with the 126 competencies in the core along
with 42 knowledge and 47 skill statements in the individualized general curriculum referenced
standards. A teacher preparing to work with students with specific learning disabilities (SLD)
must demonstrate proficiency on 174 competencies: the core plus 27 knowledge and 21 skill
statements specific to SLD.

CEC's knowledge competencies are written as general, descriptive phrases. One statement from
the common core-development and characteristics of learners-reads, "Educational
implications of characteristics of various exceptionalities" (CEC, 2001; Common Core, p. 1).
Another from the specialized knowledge base in mental retardation-development and
characteristics of learners-is "causes and theories of intellectual disabilities and implications for
prevention" (CEC, Learning Disabilities, p. 1). Skill standards start with verbs and are like
knowledge statements in their generality. In fact, some skill descriptions are so general as to
belie their use as categorical standards. For example, teachers of students with SLD are expected
to "use specialized methods for teaching basic skills" (CEC, Independence Curriculum, p. 3).
Others are more precisely described and more clearly associated with a particular categorical
area, e.g., "demonstrate appropriate body mechanics to assure student and teacher safety in
transfer, lifting, positioning, and eating" seems quite specific to individualized independent
curriculum referenced standards, learning environments, and social interactions.

CEC standards carefully avoid the word competency to refer to either skill or knowledge items,
which is their preferred term. Competency carries a somewhat negative connotation in our field
because of our tendency to reduce the complex performances of teaching into narrowly defined


parts and to think of teaching as an assembly of discrete skills. Although CEC knowledge and
skill items are precisely defined, INTASC standards are fewer in number and more broadly
conceived. INTASC standards are organized by the principle to which they are related. By virtue
of CEC's effort to align their standards with those of INTASC, the 10 INTASC principles are
roughly analogous to CEC's 10 content standards.

The title of INTASC's recent document for teachers working with students with disabilities,
Model Standards for Licensing General and Special Education Teachers of Students / i/h
Disabilities: A Resource for State Dialogue (2001), hints at its organization. Every principle is
elaborated into standards for general and special education teachers and additional standards for
special education teachers only. INTASC standards, first released in 1992, were designed for
compatibility with standards for accomplished practice promulgated by the National Board of
Professional Teaching Standards. The special education initiative began in 1997. These
standards, which were developed by a committee of general and special education teachers and
teacher educators, include knowledge, skills, and dispositions that build upon and are organized
by the core principles. The purpose of these standards is to differentiate general from special
education teachers' roles, with reference to: (a) content (Principle 1); (b) pedagogy (Principles 4-
10); (c) knowledge of students with disabilities (Principles 2 and 3); and (d) contexts (Principle
10). There are 49 standards for both general education and special education teachers and an
additional 49 for special education teachers.

INTASC (2001) standards: (a) emphasize that "teaching and learning are dynamic and
interactive processes" (p. 2); (b) are responsive to students' contexts; and (c) encourage users to
take standards as a whole "to convey a complete picture of the acts of teaching and learning" (p.
2). Unlike the CEC standards, INTASC knowledge, skills, and dispositions are not differentiated
by role (e.g., early childhood and transition specialist) or disability classification. The statements
are written in paragraph-length narratives of complete sentences. Typically, a principle is broken
down into elements, which are elaborated in the standards. For example, for Principle 3, "the
teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional
opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners" (INTASC, p. 17), the general and special
education teacher standards include: (a) building awareness of disability and respect for students
with disabilities, (b) recognizing that students with disabilities make up a heterogeneous group,
(c) understanding families' perspectives on disabilities, and (d) recognizing that some differences
may be mistaken for disability.

Because neither CEC nor INTASC standards offer an assessment process (although assessments
are in the works), it is impossible to speak to the issue of their technical soundness or their utility
as an approximation for student achievement. At present, standards seem most useful for guiding
the development of surveys of graduates in follow-up studies and in interviews used in
longitudinal studies of change. Standards have rarely been used as outcome measures in teacher
education research; their use in Nevin, Thousand, Parsons, & Lilly (2000) is the only instance we
found in the special education literature. However, both CEC and INTASC standards have the
decided advantage of being fully comprehensive and general by design, CEC in a formal sense
by dividing up knowledge and skill items and differentiating by roles. Both conceptions include
important work that teachers do outside the classroom. In CEC's collaboration standard and
INTASC's Principle 10, "The teacher fosters relationships with school colleagues, families, and

agencies in the larger community to support students' learning and well being" (INTASC, p. 37).
Both CEC and INTASC standards, which impress us as credible, were developed with input
from key stakeholders in iterative processes.

For the moment, standards have limited potential as outcome measures in teacher education
research, except as a guide to survey or interview development in follow-up or longitudinal
research. At the same time, the conceptions of beginning teacher quality represented in these
standards are detailed, coherent, and complete. The standards do represent contemporary
professional thought but lack empirical connection to student outcomes, unlike process-product

Representations of teacher quality in large-scale surveys. Questions in the SASS and
SPeNSE teacher surveys also constitute representations of beginning teacher quality (Schools
and Staffing Survey [SASS], 2003; Study of Personnel Studies in Special Education [SPeNSE],
2003). SASS data have been collected four times since 1987 by the NCES and have been used
extensively by Boe and his colleagues in analyses of teacher supply and demand (Boe, Bobbitt,
& Cook, 1997; Boe, Cook, Bobbitt, & Terhanian, 1998; Boe, Cook, Kaufman, & Danielson,
1996). The SASS sample taps the universe of public and charter schools in the U. S. The
SPeNSE survey was administered once to a nationally representative sample of special education

SASS. The SASS Teacher Questionnaire asks teachers to specify demographics, educational
backgrounds, certification(s), and years of experience. Additional questions tap: (a) length of
practice teaching, (b) first-year duties and supports, (c) mentoring, and (d) professional
development. It assesses attitudes and perceptions toward job satisfaction, support, influence in
school, school safety, and behavior. Teachers also are asked how well prepared they felt in their
first year of teaching for management, instructional methods, technology, lesson planning,
assessment, and selection/adaptation of instructional materials. Other questions focus on
professional development. The Teacher Follow-up Survey is conducted in years subsequent to
SASS administration, and teachers who have changed schools or left the field are surveyed along
with a sample of teachers who stayed at the school.

SPeNSE. In the SPeNSE teacher survey, teachers are asked about preservice preparation and
indicate the number of hours of professional development they received over the previous 12
months in each of 27 areas. Teachers also indicate their agreement on a Likert scale with
statements like: "I am skillful in planning effective lessons," or "I am skillful in teaching reading
or pre-reading skills." Thus, for the 27 preparation areas, teachers indicate any preservice
training, specify hours of professional development, and judge their degree of mastery.

SPeNSE includes a second set of questions about professional development. Teachers are asked
whether they have a personal professional development plan and whether they have participated
in any of 12 professional development activities over the past year. They indicate their hours
spent in professional development and benefits of these experiences (e.g., Improved your
effectiveness as a teacher? Been responsive to your professional development needs?) This
section of the survey ends with six more questions related to mentoring, contacts with teachers
and other education professionals, reading professional journals, and association membership.

Representations of beginning teacher quality, like SASS and SPeNSE, clearly are intended for
use in follow-up survey research. Their utility is evident, and these surveys have been used with
both general and special education teachers and across special education contexts. The entire
research genre is practical in that extensive data may be generated relatively inexpensively and
relatively quickly. Because SASS and SPeNSE have been validated by use in previous research,
these surveys are presumed to be technically sound, although the conceptions of beginning
teacher quality that can be inferred are sketchy and incomplete relative to other potential
measures (e.g., standards). Generally, the credibility of surveys like these is limited by the self-
report format and its potential for inaccuracy and bias.

PRAXIS III. PRAXIS III (Dwyer, 1993, 1994) is "a system for assessing the teaching skills of
beginning teachers" (Dwyer, 1998, p. 163) in a high-stakes assessment environment. (PRAXIS I
is a test of enabling skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic; and PRAXIS II is a test of
subject matter knowledge and teaching principles.) The 19 PRAXIS criteria, which are organized
into four domains, were developed from research (Reynolds, 1992), job analyses, and a multi-
state validity study. The criteria were piloted in the field and refined in collaboration with
practicing teachers. During its development, PRAXIS III went through five iterations.

The development process, begun in 1987 and completed in 1993, involved: (a) establishing an
underlying conception of teaching, (b) developing a plan for defining teaching, and (c) linking
this definition to assessments. The underlying conception of teaching emphasizes the importance
of action and decision-making and the consideration of individual, school, and community
contexts. Because learning is presumed to involve the active construction of knowledge,
assessments must take place in classrooms. Teachers are afforded opportunities to explain their
actions, and scoring allows for the reality that good teaching can take many forms. Skilled
professionals are thought to make the best assessors.

The 19 criteria are organized into four domains:

Organizing Content Knowledge for Student Learning
Creating an Environment for Student Learning
Teaching for Student Learning
Teacher Professionalism.

Dwyer (1993) asserted that these criteria establish "a vision of teaching. .. derived from working
closely with teachers themselves. .. relevant to teachers' own practice and concerns. . [and]
informed by the theoretical and policy perspectives of other educators and researchers" (p. 172).
PRAXIS III involves three data collection processes:
direct observation of classroom practice (in which a running narrative is kept)
written materials (class/teacher profiles and a lesson plan)
interviews (before/after the observation) related to the lesson.

Trained assessors observe teachers as they teach a lesson of their choice to a group of their
choice. On the evidence-the two profiles, lesson plan, running observational record, and
interview protocols-assessors rate teachers on the 19 criteria. The scale used is from 1.0 to 3.5,
where a rating of 2.0 represents minimally satisfactory performance. Scoring is guided by a
rubric linked to the nature of the evidence. Assessor training, which requires five days, is
considered essential for identifying evidence relating to criteria and to using evidence to reach

Observation systems like PRAXIS III may be used in comparative studies and in longitudinal
studies of change. The generality of the criteria preclude its use in experiments unless ratings are
conducted on a pre/post basis (as for process-product measures) and the intervention is designed
specifically to affect performance on one or more criteria. The conception of teacher quality is
highly credible, given the systematic manner with which it was developed and the participation
of key stakeholders throughout. However, as an assessment for classroom teachers, PRAXIS III
made no special adaptations for special education practice.

PRAXIS III has been used in one special education study (Daunic & Sindelar, 1997). In this
study, the system worked well with a sample of special education teachers, and the authors
concluded that "their experience supported its use in a variety of classroom contexts and its
validity for assessing teachers in special education" (p. 23). They noted that the pattern of
performance across the 19 criteria supported this assertion in the sense that their sample of
special education teachers performed relatively well where expected and relatively less well
where expected (e.g., extends students' thinking). Ratings on six criteria and two domain
summary scores differentiated graduates of three distinct teacher education program types.

Thus, PRAXIS III rates high marks on utility and credibility. Furthermore, the richness of the
record of evidence creates a comprehensive picture of beginning teacher quality. With regard to
soundness, Dwyer (1998) emphasized its construct validity and argued that construct validity
was the most important consideration for teacher observation systems. Furthermore, ETS
developed the PRAXIS to market to states as a legally defensible process for licensing beginning
teachers. The reliability of assessors' ratings is implied by the extensiveness of their training.
However, PRAXIS III administration is highly costly and labor-intensive. Training also is costly
and, for longitudinal studies, would need to be repeated for new assessors. Although the picture
of teaching competence derived from PRAXIS III observations is rich and sound, the system
may be impractical for some purposes.

Research on teaching (e.g., process-product studies) in special education focused most often on
teachers of students with high-incidence disabilities (i.e., learning disabilities, mild mental
retardation, and/or behavior disorders). Given this, we are satisfied that the models and measures
we have presented are useful for examining teacher quality for these teachers. However, since
the research and teaching agendas within special education differ, we now explore the usefulness
of these models and measures for teachers of students with severe disabilities, teachers in
transition programs, and teachers serving culturally diverse and English language learners.


Knowledge Base for Beginning Teachers

The term severe disabilities is used to characterize individuals with an extremely broad range of
educational needs (McDonnell, Hardman, & McDonnell, 2003). In many states, beginning
teachers are required to provide educational services to students with moderate to profound
mental retardation, multiple disabilities (e.g., mental retardation and physical disabilities,
deafblind), autism, and other health impairments. Not surprisingly, these teachers must have
knowledge and expertise well beyond what is typically provided in many special education
preservice programs (Baumgart & Ferguson, 1991; Fox & Williams, 1992). The roles of these
teachers have become more challenging in the last ten years as this group of students have been
included in general education classes and the general education curriculum (The Arc, 1998;
Ford, Davern, & Schnorr, 2001; Meyer, Peck, & Brown, 1991; National Association of State
Boards of Education, 1992; The Association of Persons with Severe Handicaps [TASH], 2000).
These teachers must not only be prepared to meet the unique educational needs of these students
but must do so within typical schools and classrooms.

Although there is a significant research base on effective teaching practices for students with
severe disabilities (cf. Browder, 2001; Snell & Brown, 2000; Westling & Fox, 2000), there has
been surprisingly little effort to define the specific knowledge base that beginning teachers must
have to serve this group of students effectively (Hardman, McDonnell, & Welch, 1998; Ryndak
& Kennedy, 2000). The CEC has developed lists of knowledge and skill standards that it
believes are critical for teachers who work with students identified as having severe disabilities
(CEC, 2001). For example, CEC lists 10 different standards for teachers who are being trained to
work with students with mental retardation or developmental disabilities. These standards are:
foundations, development and characteristics of learners, individual learning differences,
instructional strategies, learning environments/social interactions, language, instructional
planning, assessment, professional and ethical practice, and collaboration. Each standard
includes specific knowledge and skill indices that CEC notes as essential for teachers working
with this group of students. However, the general organization of the CEC standards is at odds
with the noncategorical nature of the term severe disabilities. To address this issue, CEC has also
developed standards for noncategorical preservice programs that it refers to as programs with
individualized independence curricula. The knowledge and skill indices included in this set of
standards are drawn from those developed for several other categorical areas (e.g., mental
retardation/developmental disabilities, physical disabilities).

Recently, the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps (TASH) (2002) adopted a
resolution outlining its position on the specific areas of knowledge and expertise essential for
teachers working with students with severe disabilities (see the Appendix). The TASH standards
are based on the assumption that students with severe disabilities should be educated in general
education classes and should participate in the general education curriculum. Therefore, teachers
must be prepared to meet students' educational needs in these settings. The standards address a
wide range of areas, including curriculum, instruction, developing social supports, and
collaboration. However, at this point, TASH has not articulated specific competencies for each

There is no research examining the areas of knowledge and expertise typically included in
preservice programs nationally for teachers of students with severe disabilities. One exception is
Ryndak, Clark, Conroy, & Stuart (2001). They interviewed representatives from 33 institutions
of higher education (IHEs) regarded as having exemplary programs in severe disabilities. The
study was designed to identify the general configuration of masters programs in severe
disabilities and the areas of expertise considered essential for beginning teachers. The interview
focused on 113 specific knowledge and skill competencies divided into nine general areas of
expertise, including collaboration and technical assistance, inclusion, advocacy and self-
advocacy, curriculum content identification processes, effective instruction, functional
assessment and behavior intervention plans, transition and transition to adult living, physical and
sensory disabilities, and research. The specific interview items were drawn from previously
published lists of competencies for special education teachers (e.g., CEC competencies) and a
review of the literature on recommended educational practices for students with severe
disabilities. The overwhelming majority of respondents from these programs agreed that
knowledge and skills in these areas were essential to prepare teachers for their roles in the
schools and therefore should be included in preservice training programs.

At this point, there is no consensus about what beginning teachers of students with severe
disabilities should know. The result is that the specific knowledge, skills, and expertise that this
group of teachers must demonstrate before they enter the profession varies significantly from
state to state. It is also unclear whether widespread efforts to reform teacher education will
produce a consensus about this knowledge base. Unfortunately, attention to the preparation of
teachers of students with severe disabilities has been conspicuously absent from the dialogue
about teacher education reform (Blanton, Griffin, Winn, & Pugach, 1997; Ford et al., 2001;
Pugach & Warger, 1996; Ryndak & Kennedy, 2000). In addition, there has been virtually no
discussion about what other special and general educators should know to meet the needs of
students with severe disabilities when they are included in general education classes.

Research on the Preparation of Beginning Teachers

Although there is a robust research literature on recommended educational practices for students
with severe disabilities, there has been very little research examining effective ways to prepare
new teachers to implement these practices or to evaluate teacher competence and understand
teacher quality (Baumgart & Ferguson, 1991; Kaiser & McWhorter, 1990; Ryndak & Kennedy,
2000). Several book chapters and articles have made recommendations for the design of
preservice preparation programs based on analysis of research on curriculum, instructional, and
behavioral support strategies to promote student learning (Baumgart & Ferguson, 1991; Fox &
Williams, 1992; Whitten & Westling, 1992). Others have made recommendations for the design
of preservice programs based on themes underlying the education reform movement (Eichinger
& Downing, 2000; Hardman et al., 1998).

The literature also includes a number of program descriptions outlining how various teacher
education programs have organized their curriculum and the educational experiences they
provide teacher candidates (Gast & Wolery, 1990; Goetz, Anderson, & Doering, 1990; Keefe,
Rossi, de Valenzuela, & Howarth, 2000; Lane & Canosa, 1995; O'Reilly & Renzaglia, 1994;
Rainforth, 2000; Snell, Martin, & Orelove, 1997). The programs appear to share a number of

IN /--

organizational features, including that the content of preservice preparation should center on
preparing teacher candidates to implement empirically validated practices, that the preservice
program should be competency-based and require teacher candidates to demonstrate their ability
to use teaching strategies with students in typical school settings, and that beginning teachers
should receive intensive, ongoing supervision from faculty members who can model
recommended practices. However, published studies on the effectiveness of program models to
prepare teachers for their roles in the schools and the ability of program graduates to impact
student learning are few. Research on the effectiveness of preservice programs in severe
disabilities has relied primarily on attitude surveys and interviews. For example, Lane & Canosa
(1995) described the impact of a mentorship program for preservice teacher candidates in severe
disabilities at The Johns Hopkins University. They asked 10 teacher candidates who had
participated in the program over a 2-year period to rate the quality of the mentorship program in
preparing them to implement several program planning, curriculum, and instructional strategies
with students with severe disabilities in a written survey. The teacher candidates' mentors rated
their perceptions of the impact of the program on their own practice in areas such as
collaboration, peer observation, and consultation. The authors concluded that the program was
effective in preparing teacher candidates for their future roles and helped practicing teachers to
improve their professional skills.

Potential Application of Current Assessment/Evaluation Models

One of few models for determining teacher competence in severe disabilities is a set of
performance-based standards developed by CEC. These standards are organized by a listing of
what CEC describes as validated knowledge and skills. The validation procedure is based on
expert opinion from surveys within the field (i.e., state leadership, university personnel, school
district leadership, and practicing teachers) to determine whether a specific knowledge or skill is
consistent with current practice. Teacher education programs in severe disabilities may choose to
respond to one of two possible sets of performance standards in seeking program approval. The
first option is oriented to a specific disability category, identifying knowledge and skills for
students with mental retardation or developmental disabilities. The second option is a set of
individualized independence curriculum standards. Described as noncategorical, the
independence standards are heavily weighted toward medical and health aspects of conditions
that affect students with disabilities.

The match between the literature on effective educational practices for students with disabilities
and the CEC performance standards presents some interesting challenges for future research on
teacher quality. While CEC standards are consistent with a competency-based orientation to
teacher education, they are inconsistent with the extant research literature in three areas: (1)
while there is some emphasis on the use of validated teaching strategies in typical school
settings, most standards focus on services across a continuum of placements; (2) there is little or
no orientation to teacher competence in instructional practices for self-determination, building
natural support networks, and enhancing student participation in home, school and community;
(3) while the research literature emphasizes the need to prepare teachers in the use of empirically
validated practices, CEC standards rely heavily on expert opinion in determining knowledge and
skills without requiring teacher preparation programs to document the use of research-based

IN -7

A second source for determining teacher competence in severe disabilities is the INTASC draft
of Model Standards for Licensing General and Special Education Teachers of Students n i/h
Disabilities: A Resource for State Dialogue (2001). Using INTASC's 10 core principles as a
base, a committee of special and general educators developed a guide to assist states in
developing and refining their standards and practices. Like CEC, INTASC sought input from
education experts on the implications of using the 10 core principles for meeting the needs of
students with disabilities. From this set of implications, INTASC developed key knowledge,
skills, and dispositions expected of beginning general and special education teachers.

Both CEC and INTASC models address the need for special education teachers to have
knowledge of expanded curriculum in areas such as communication, social development, motor
skills, functional and independent living skills, and employment-related skills. However, where
CEC addresses instruction within the continuum of placements, INTASC describes the special
education teacher's role as "a specialist who is responsible for the integration of students with
severe/multiple disabilities in general education classrooms with the support of
paraprofessionals" (p. 6). INTASC also emphasizes that a specific disability does not dictate how
a student will learn. It is the special education teacher's responsibility to move beyond the
disability label to work directly with the family in teaching the functional skills necessary to
access and participate in valued post-school outcomes (e.g., employment, personal management,
self-advocacy, communication). Consistent with research on preparing beginning special
education teachers, INTASC expects special education teachers to identify instructional
strategies that have been validated across different learning environments (home, school, and

Table 2. Models and Measures of Beginning Teacher Quality in the Area of Severe
Disabilities and Transition

1 2 3 4 5 U CR CO G S P

Standards CEC
Knowledge & Skills INTASC / / / + - +

Neither CEC nor INTASC currently offers an assessment process.
Key: 1 = Searches for Factors That Influence Student Outcomes
2 = Comparative Studies of Licensed and Unlicensed Teachers
3 = Follow-up Surveys
4 = Experiments
5 = Case Studies of Change Over Time
U = utility; CR = credibility; CO = comprehensiveness; G = generality; S = soundness;
P = practicality

Future research on teacher quality related to educating students with severe disabilities could use
measures based on CEC and INTASC standards, which meet the criteria (Table 2) for
credibility (stakeholders' validation) and practicality (costs and training requirements). The
standards fail to meet criteria related to utility (used by other researchers); generality (full range
of contexts related to role assignments); comprehensiveness (richness and breadth); and
soundness (reliability and validity).

A third potential source for determining teacher competence in severe disabilities is the
Proposed Resolution on Teacher Education drafted by TASH (see previous discussion and
Table 2). TASH's approach to teacher quality is similar to the approach of INTASC. TASH
supports the need for beginning special education teachers to have a solid foundation in
curriculum, instructional methods, and assessment related to serving students with severe
disabilities in general education settings. Like INTASC, TASH indicates that teachers need to be
prepared to teach a diverse population of learners within heterogeneous groups; collaborate with
families and school/non-school personnel; promote self-determination to ensure each student's
meaningful involvement within the community; and orient instruction during the transition years
to post-school outcomes, including employment and supported living. TASH emphasizes the
need to prepare special education teachers to provide instruction based on empirically validated
knowledge within the context of general education settings for school-aged students and in
natural settings for young adults.


The Knowledge Base for Beginning Teachers

Research over the last decade has identified practices associated with the successful transition of
students with disabilities from school to adulthood and community life (Benz, Yovanoff, &
Doren, 1997; Blackorby & Wagner, 1996; Heal & Rusch, 1995; Phelps & Hanley-Maxwell,
1997; Wehman & Revell, 1997). Among these practices are: (a) including students in the general
education curriculum, especially vocational education classes; (b) referencing curriculum and
instruction to the demands of adulthood; (c) planning person-centered transition; (d) securing
paid employment for students prior to leaving school; (e) developing natural supports; and (f)
coordinating services between education, post-secondary, and community service agencies. In
addition, the knowledge base for beginning teachers working in transition programs is directly
affected by amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990 (P.L.
101-476), which was designed to improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities
(U. S. Department of Education [USDOE], 1990). Through these amendments, Congress
directed state and local education agencies (SEAs and LEAs) to provide students with a set of
transition services that would promote their successful movement from school to adult life. The
transition mandates in IDEA were further refined in amendments adopted by the Congress in
1997. IDEA 97 makes clear that SEAs and LEAs must not only provide transition services to
students but to structure those services in ways that increase the likelihood that students will be
able to achieve their own post-school goals (USDOE, 1997).

Several studies have identified what practitioners believe are critical areas of knowledge and
skills for teachers who are supporting the transition of students with disabilities from school to
community life (Blanchett, 2001; Bull, Montgomery, & Beard, 1994; deFur & Taymans, 1995;
Knott & Asselin, 1999; Morgan, Moore, McSweyn, & Salzberg, 1992; Woolfe, Boone, &
Blanchett, 1998). For example, deFur and Taymans reported the results of a national survey of
149 practitioners working in transition programs for youth with disabilities on the relative
importance of professional competencies specific to their roles. The competency domains in the
survey were identified from transition preparation programs funded by the Office of Special
Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS). Their analysis of these personnel preparation
grant projects reflected the educational practices identified for longitudinal outcome studies
previously described. Survey results suggested that respondents believed that seven competency
domains were critical to their professional roles, including:

knowledge of agencies and systems change
development and management of individualized transition plans
working with others in the transition process
vocational assessment and job development
professionalism, advocacy, and legal issues
job preparation and support
general assessment.

Research on the Preparation of Beginning Teachers

While researchers and teacher educators have acknowledged that beginning teachers require
unique knowledge and skills in the area of transition (Izzo, Johnson, Levitz, & Aaron, 1998;
Kohler, 1998; Williams & O'Leary, 2001), there is a paucity of research examining how they can
be prepared to use these practices. Most published reports on this issue have described elements
of undergraduate and graduate preservice programs (e.g., Barnes & Bullock, 1995; Barnes,
Bullock, & Currin, 1997; Flexer, Simmons, & Tankersley, 1997). These programs share a
number of elements, including interdisciplinary preparation for special educators, vocational
educators, and rehabilitation counselors; didactic course work focused on educational practices
associated with improved post-school outcomes for students with severe disabilities; and field
experiences in designing and implementing recommended transition practices with adolescents
and young adults with disabilities. However, no studies have specifically examined the relative
effectiveness of these strategies or the various preparation models.

Potential Application of Current Assessment/Evaluation Models

One of the few models for determining teacher competence in transition is the performance-
based standards model developed by the CEC (2001). CEC standards for beginning teachers in
the area of transition are imbedded within the knowledge and skills base for the common core
and individual areas of specialization (e.g., learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, mental
retardation). CEC has also developed a set of standards for a transition specialist that goes
beyond the core and specialization areas. Standards are organized according to what the CEC
describes as validated knowledge and skills. The validation procedure is based on expert opinion
from surveys within the field (i.e., state leadership, university personnel, school district
leadership and practicing teachers) to determine whether a specific knowledge or skill is
consistent with current practice.

The CEC common core performance standards are cross-age (K-12), and the only specific
reference to transition knowledge and skills is found in Standards 3 and 4. Standard 3 references
the need for teacher candidates to understand the impact of a learner's abilities, attitudes,
interests, and values on career development. Standard 4 requires that beginning teachers use
strategies to promote successful transitions for individuals with exceptional learning needs
(ELN). However, the term successful transitions is broadly defined and focuses on cross-age
transition periods (e.g., elementary to middle school, middle to high school, school to adult life.)

CEC specialization standards are also cross-age, and any reference to transition knowledge and
skills is highly variable and dependent on the specialization. For example, in the area of learning
disabilities, there are no specific knowledge and skills in transition practices; however, there are
three references to transition in accessing the general curriculum standards. Standard 4 requires
that beginning teachers know the resources and techniques used to transition individuals with
disabilities into and out of school and post-school environments. Standard 7 requires knowledge
of model career, vocational, and transition programs for individuals with disabilities. Standard 10
requires teachers to have the skills necessary to collaborate with team members to plan transition
to adulthood that encourages full community participation.

Clearly, CEC views competence in effective transition practices as a specialty area that goes
beyond the knowledge and skills of the beginning teacher. CEC performance standards for the
transition specialist, which are consistent with the research literature, focus heavily on transition
law and policy, development and implementation of transition plans, collaboration among school
and adult service agencies, and employment preparation.

A second source for determining teacher competence in transition is the INTASC draft of Model
Standards for Licensing General and Special Education Teachers of Students n/ iih Disabilities:
A Resource for State Dialogue (2001). Using the INTASC 10 core principles as a base, a
committee of special and general educators developed a guide to assist states in developing and
refining their standards and practices. Input was sought from education experts on the
implications for the use of the 10 core principles for meeting the needs of students with
disabilities. From this set of implications, INTASC developed key knowledge, skills, and
dispositions expected of beginning general and special education teachers.

INTASC requires that beginning general and special education teachers have a base of
knowledge and skills in the area of transition. To implement this requirement, teacher
competencies are imbedded within the 10 core principles. In Principle 1, teachers are required to
recognize that some students will need an expanded curriculum in areas such as employment-
related instruction. These teachers should also know about federal disability legislation,
including IDEA requirements for the development of transition plans. In addition, special
education teachers must know how to provide transition support from secondary school settings
to post-secondary and work settings as well as promote participation in all aspects of community
life. Principle 2 emphasizes the need for special education teachers to understand learning from a
lifespan perspective, working with the family to broaden expectations of each student's ability to
function independently as an adult. Principle 3 requires that special education teachers be able to
work closely with families from diverse cultures to ensure that transition planning does not
conflict with established values and beliefs. Principle 4 requires special education to identify
instructional strategies that have been successful across different learning environments,
including home, workplace, and community. Finally, Principle 8 emphasizes the use of
assessment procedures that document student learning across multiple environments, including
work and community settings.

Future research on teacher quality as it relates to transition could include measures based on
CEC and INTASC standards, which meet the criteria discussed earlier (Table 2) for credibility
(stakeholders' validation) and practicality (costs and training requirements). However, they fail
to meet criteria related to utility (used by other researchers); generality (full range of contexts
related to role assignments); comprehensiveness (richness and breadth); or soundness (reliability
and validity).


The Knowledge Base for Beginning Teachers

There is a significant literature on preparing preservice teachers for educating culturally and
linguistically diverse (CLD) students. The bulk of this work has focused on the design and
implementation of multicultural teacher education for elementary and secondary teachers
(Bennett, 2001; Dilworth, 1992; Fox & Gay, 1995; Grant, 1994; Zeichner, 1996; Zeichner,
Grant, Gay, Gillette, Valli, & Villegas, 1998). Multicultural education includes the skills of
intercultural understanding and interaction, integrating cultural content into the school subjects,
and building positive attitudes (Birkel, 2000). Researchers describe the characteristics of
successful multicultural teaching as culturally appropriate, culturally competent, culturally
congruent, culturally compatible, or culturally responsive (cf Bennett, 2001, p. 186). Culturally
relevant pedagogy focuses on reversing the underachievement of students of color and on
teachers' abilities to communicate and interact with their culturally diverse learners (CDLs) and
English language learners (ELLs) and families (Delpit, 1995; Harry, Kalyanpur, & Day, 1999). It
refers to the type of educator or clinician who can educate students from many cultures, be
respectful of differences in cultures, traditions, and styles; and reach the students while holding
them accountable (R. Gersten, personal communication, January 25, 2003). An effective
multicultural teacher education program includes competencies, such as:

understanding ethnic and cultural diversity, how cultural characteristics impact
student learning, and how different cultures intersect with the mainstream school
developing an understanding and appreciation of one's own culture to facilitate the
understanding and respect for other diverse populations
understanding theories of culturally and linguistically responsive instruction
acquiring skills in authentic assessment and multiple assessment strategies for
culturally diverse learners and second-language learners (Beckum, 1992; Fox & Gay,
1995; Gay, 2000; Grant, 1994)
acquiring effective instructional methods, especially for students who are struggling
with language and language-related skills that lead to literacy (August & Hakuta,
1997; Reyes, 1992).

The competencies required for preservice teachers should not only be presented in courses on
history and studies of various ethnic groups. Instead, the preparation program should involve a
social reconstructionist approach that emphasizes the social and political implications of
teachers' actions and their contribution to greater equality and justice in schools and society
(Zeichner, 1996). Thus, teacher education should promote a teacher's disposition toward
opposing inequity, not just celebrating diversity. Teachers would confront forms of oppression
and domination such as racism, sexism, classism, and abelism (Ladson-Billings, 2001).

A smaller portion of the multicultural education literature has focused on preparing teachers to
work specifically with ELLs. Although teaching ELLs has traditionally been the role of English
for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers or bilingual specialists, general and special
education teachers are increasingly serving linguistically diverse students in their classrooms.
These educators must be able to teach students to speak English while at the same time including
them in content-area instruction in reading, mathematics, science, social studies, and the other
subjects that make up the general education curriculum (cf Gersten & Baker, 2000; Zehler,
1994). Furthermore, ELLs must be aided in developing proficiency in listening, speaking,
reading, and writing with regard to both basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS) and
cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) skills (Cummins, 1984).

The competencies for teaching ELLs have most often been defined by state certification and
licensure requirements as well as by national organizations such as the National Association of
Bilingual Education (NABE) or TESOL. Interestingly, more and more states are requiring that
teacher preparation programs prepare all teachers to serve diverse students, including ELLs
(Miller, Strosnider, & Dooley, 2002). For example, under a consent decree, Florida requires that
all P-12 and special education graduates of state universities also possess a full English for
Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement (Florida Department of Education, 2001):

Further changes to statutes and State Board of Education Rules, however, now require
preservice teacher education programs in the state (Section 240.529, F.S., and State
Board of Education Rule 6A-5.066, F.A.C) to prepare their teacher education students to
teach LEP students consistent with the requirements in the ESOL Consent Decree. (p. 1)

For Florida's preservice teachers, the ESOL endorsement is the equivalent of five additional
courses in the curriculum or two courses with infusion of competencies in other areas of the
curricula. These competencies are over and beyond knowledge included in previously taken
preservice courses. Preservice teachers are expected to develop the ability to analyze student
language and develop appropriate instructional strategies for listening comprehension, oral
communication, reading, and writing through this newly gained knowledge of phonology,
morphology, syntax, semantics, and discourse.

In states like Florida, California, and Texas, special education teachers are required to meet the
performance-based standards dictated by ESOL certification or licensure, but less is known
about preparing special education teachers to work with ELLs with disabilities. What do special
education teachers need to know and be able to do in multicultural and bilingual education that
goes beyond what is required of elementary and secondary teachers? Furthermore, how do we
assess beginning teachers' competence in teaching students from diverse backgrounds?

Several books, chapters, and journal articles have focused on the need to include multicultural
competencies in special education preparation programs (Obiakor, 2001; Pugach & Seidl, 1998;
Rodriguez & Carrasquillo, 1997; Salend, 1998; Utley & Obiakor, 2001; Voltz, Brazil, & Scott,
2003). Some of the earliest work in this area started in the mid-1980s and early 1990s (Baca &
Cervantes, 1998; Carrasquillo & Baecher, 1990; and Cummins, 1984). What has become clear
over the years is that effective special education teachers must possess all the skills described for
general education and be especially skilled in distinguishing an actual disability from the

influences of complex social, cultural, and/or language variables (Miller et al., 2002; Ortiz &
Garcia, 1990; Voltz et al., 2003). Furthermore, special educators must be able to use a variety of
instructional strategies that are effective for ELLs, including teaching in two languages
(Rodriquez & Carrasquillo). Preservice special educators should also demonstrate skills in and a
disposition for collaboration with diverse families and other professionals (e.g., ELL teachers,
bilingual specialists, general educators, school psychologists, interpreters).

Burstein, Cabello, & Hamann (1993) described an infusion model for covering cultural diversity
content in a special education preservice program. The general competency areas infused in the
special education program included:

cultural and social influences on students
language acquisition and development of students from culturally diverse
assessment of culturally diverse students
developing and adapting instruction for students from culturally diverse backgrounds
evaluating and analyzing instruction in relation to culturally diverse students'
learning and development
classroom management for culturally diverse students
working with parents, school, and community as advocate for culturally diverse

Some researchers believe that real progress toward preparing special educators to work with
culturally, racially, ethnically, linguistically, and economically diverse learners has been slow
(Obiakor, 2001; Pugach & Seidl, 1998), especially in the face of yet another national report on
the disproportionate numbers of minority students in special and gifted education (Donovan &
Cross, 2001). The authors of this report acknowledge that disproportionality continues to exist
and recommend improving teacher quality through preservice education and professional
development, in particular, preparing school psychologists and special education teachers in: (a)
conducting classroom observations and assessments, (b) providing teacher support to work with
struggling students or with gifted students, and (c) recognizing and working with implicit and
explicit racial/ethnic stereotypes.

Research on the Preparation of Beginning Teachers

Although there is substantial literature on effective educational practices for CDLs and ELLs and
on the essential multicultural competencies needed by teachers, there has been little empirical
research examining the impact of multicultural teacher education on beginning teachers and the
CDLs and ELLs they teach. The criteria for defining effective educational practices are based on
contemporary writing and scholarship that is rarely linked to student outcomes. "It is also unclear
whether many of the approaches advocated accelerate or hinder student learning and motivation"
(R. Gersten, personal communication, January 25, 2003). Most research on multicultural teacher
education has been conducted in general education (Bennett, 2001; Cochran-Smith, 1995; Grant

& Tate, 2001; Kennedy, 1991; Ladson-Billings, 2001; Troutman, Pankratius, & Gallavan, 1999;
Zeichner, 1996). Few studies have focused on special education preservice teachers (Artiles &
Trent, 1997; Obiakor, 2001; Webb-Johnson, Artiles, Trent, Jackson, & Velox, 1998). A classic
illustration of research on teacher characteristics with ethnically diverse students is The Dream
Keepers: Successful Teachers of African-American Children (Ladson-Billings, 1994). Teachers
who were effective in educating African-American students: (a) were proud of teaching as a
profession and had chosen to teach in low-income schools; (b) felt a strong sense of purpose and
believed it was his or her responsibility to ensure the success of each student; (c) were aware of
the societal conditions of discrimination and injustice and understood how this influenced the
school's academic expectations for students of color; (d) avoided assimilationist approaches to
teaching and wanted to prepare their students to become change agents, not just fit into
mainstream society; and (e) capitalized on their students' home and community culture by
creating a flexible, fluid, and collaborative learning climate where everyone learned from
everyone else.

The research that has been conducted in special education and multicultural education has
focused primarily on the use of attitude surveys or interviews. For example, Burstein et al.,
(1993) evaluated the impact of infusing 49 competencies in cultural diversity into their special
education preparation program. The program evaluation involved the use of multiple cohort
questionnaires and employer surveys. Preservice teachers in the program reported higher levels
of knowledge and efficacy in work with diverse students, and employers rated the preservice
teachers as being highly qualified to work with these students. The authors concluded that the
program was effective in preparing two cohorts of beginning teachers for culturally diverse

In a study by Dinsmore and Hess (2000), 530 preservice teachers across rural Nebraska were
surveyed on the extent and perceived adequacy of multicultural education preparation in their
teacher education programs. While the majority of the participants were elementary and
secondary preservice teachers, 11% of the participants were special education preservice
teachers. Seventy-one percent of the preservice teachers reported taking a 3-hour course in
multicultural education; 22%, a 1-hour course; and 16%, additional elective course work. While
most respondents (91%) felt that multicultural education preparation was important, very few
students felt extremely or very adequately prepared (17%), and 77% indicated a need for more
preparation. Ethnically diverse preservice teachers who had preparation and/or personal
experiences interacting with culturally diverse individuals felt more adequately prepared than
those who did not. The continued professional development needs given most emphasis were
skill component areas, such as consultation techniques and strategies to adapt instruction with
CDLs and ELLs.

Several studies have looked at the impact of multicultural education courses and field
experiences on preservice elementary and special education teachers' beliefs and attitudes
toward diverse students and their families. The impact of the experiences on the preservice
teachers have been measured using portfolio assessments (Pleasants, Johnson, & Trent, 1998),
dialogue journals (Garmon, 1998), and concept maps (Trent, Pernell, Mungai, & Chimedza,
1998; Troutman et al., 1999). Although the reflections of preservice and beginning teachers and
documentation of effective practices in particular environments are informative, there is a need

to supplement these sources with performance-based assessments. These assessments should be
appropriate for, and responsive to, the complexity of interactions in a variety of classroom and
school contexts.

Kennedy (1991) used multiple strategies for tapping teachers' knowledge and beliefs at different
points in time during teacher preparation in multicultural education (p. 59). Data collection
procedures included questionnaires, interviews, responses to scenarios, and observations.
Kennedy observed that collecting data on the impact of teacher education programs on what
teachers think about issues of learner diversity "proved even more difficult than we had imagined
on the outset" (p. 46). Not surprisingly, the most costly data measurement instruments-
observations of teachers interacting with diverse children-yielded the most valid information
about teachers' knowledge of teaching diverse learners. Although Kennedy's work did tap
general educators' beliefs about diverse learners including disabilities, much more research is
needed on how preservice preparation programs influence special education teacher's beliefs
about and behaviors with CDLs and ELLs.

Potential Application of Current Assessment/Evaluation Models

Perhaps the most widely used assessment/evaluation model for determining teacher competence
in multicultural/bilingual special education is a set of performance-based standards developed by
the CEC. As noted previously, these standards are organized around a list of what CEC describes
as validated knowledge and skills in a common core (e.g., foundations, learner characteristics,
individual learning differences) and a specialization area. The new common core standards
(CEC, 2001) provide extensive coverage of the knowledge and skills special educators must have
in working with CDLs and ELLs with ELNs. In fact, 27 out of the 126 common core indicators
(21%) address some aspect of diversity. CEC does not provide a separate specialization area for
multicultural and/or bilingual education. Many common core indicators are repeated in the
disability categories. For example, the specialization area of gifted and talented emphasizes the
need for special education teachers to understand appropriate assessment and placement when
referring CDLs and ELLs to gifted programs.

The match between the literature on effective educational practices for students with disabilities
and the CEC performance standards presents some challenges for future research on teacher
quality. While CEC has made progress in identifying standards and competencies for
professional practice in cultural and linguistic diversity, conceptual and structural frameworks
for preparing special educators to become culturally competent have not been developed (Voltz,
Dooley, & Jefferies, 1999). In fact, most teacher preparation programs attempt to deliver the
multicultural content by infusing it into existing courses with little attention to the need for
specialized cultural and linguistic content or field-based experiences with diverse student
populations (Utley & Obiakor, 2001).

A second source for determining beginning teacher competence in multicultural/bilingual special
education is the INTASC draft of Model Standards for Licensing General and Special Education
Teachers of Students in ih Disabilities: A Resourcefor State Dialogue (2001). Embedded within
the 10 principles are indicators for both general and special teachers specifically associated with
teaching students from culturally and linguistically different backgrounds.


INTASC requires that beginning general and special education teachers have a base of
knowledge and skills in understanding cultural, ethnic, gender, and linguistic differences among
students with disabilities. In Principle 3, teachers are to consult with ELL teachers about
language patterns typical of students learning English as a second language. Special education
teachers should gather information from families and communities in order to understand the
families' views on disabilities. They should understand ways in which home and school cultures
are compatible or in conflict. Principle 4 emphasizes the need for teachers to understand and use
a variety of culturally and linguistically relevant instructional strategies that encourage student
development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and performance skills. General educators
should know how to modify and adapt the general curriculum to accommodate individual student

In Principle 6, all teachers should be able to collaborate with language specialists, including ELL
teachers, English language development teachers, bilingual teachers, and interpreters. In addition
to understanding how linguistic background impacts language acquisition, special education
teachers specifically are expected to collaborate with other language specialists to assist the
general education teacher in implementing strategies and accommodations for students. In
Principle 7, beginning special education teachers are expected to use interpreters when necessary
to assure family involvement at IEP meetings. Principle 8 provides indicators to assure that
special education teachers are aware and guard against over- and under-identification of
disabilities based on cultural, ethnic, gender, and linguistic diversity. Principles 9 and 10
emphasize the need for beginning general and special education teachers to reflect on the
potential interaction between a student's cultural experiences and their disability. Additionally,
both general and special education teachers should understand factors that challenge teamwork,
including the diverse backgrounds, beliefs, knowledge, and needs of team participants.

It is important to note that INTASC, unlike CEC, mentions the roles of the ELL teacher and
bilingual specialist as sources of professional help for special education teachers (p. 6). Clearly,
to coordinate and support services for meeting the educational needs of CDLs and ELLs, special
educators must collaborate with ELL or bilingual education teachers; however, there are
challenges to this collaboration (Salend, Dorney, & Mazo, 1997).

A third potential source for determining teacher competence in cultural and linguistic diversity is
the Praxis III, which has been heavily based on culturally responsive teaching. Multiple areas of
the Praxis III specifically look at a teacher's ways of interacting with and accommodating a
diverse student's needs. Additionally, through an interview process, Praxis III asks teachers to
reflect on their dispositions related to equity and values of diverse learners (Dwyer, 1993, 1994).
Daunic (1996) pinpointed nine essential indicators that could best assess a culturally responsive
teacher. Table 3 lists and describes the nine indicators. A fourth potential source for assessing a
teacher's ability to work with CDLs and ELLs is the SPeNSE survey. Several items on the best
practices survey specifically ask about:

the number of lessons that the teacher develops specifically for English language
whether the teacher introduces vocabulary prior to a lesson
the amount of extended discourse the teacher uses in a lesson


the teacher's ability to use a student's native language to teach English language
the extent to which the teacher uses a student's native language to teach a concept or
make a clarification about content.

After analysis of these items, there was concern that these items may only measure certain
aspects of teacher best practices and not best practices as a whole.

Table 3. Nine Essential Indicators That Could Assess a Culturally Responsive


Al: Becoming familiar with Ability to demonstrate:
relevant aspects of (a) knowledge of sources for information about students'
students' background background knowledge/experiences
knowledge/experience. (b) an understanding of students' skills/background
(c) an understanding of why this knowledge is important.
A4: Creating or selecting teaching Ability to select carefully methods and resources that
methods, learning activities, and reflect the common and the unique experiences of the
instructional materials or other students and to provide a rationale for their use.
resources appropriate to the
students and aligned with lesson
B1: Creating a climate that promotes Ability to treat students fairly, help them feel equally
fairness, valued, and provide them equitable access to learning.
Includes avoidance of stereotyped views and
encouragement of fairness among students
B2: Establishing and maintaining A teacher's ability to show concern for students in ways
rapport with students. appropriate to their individual characteristics.
Generally, to relate positively to students.
B3: Communicating challenging How well a teacher is able to communicate to each
learning expectations to each student that he/she is capable of meaningful
student. achievement. Includes ability to encourage students to
meet high standards that are within reach
C2: Making content comprehensible to Ability to communicate content clearly and accurately to
students. the students in the class. Includes structuring the lesson
so that its progression makes sense conceptually.
C3: Encouraging students to extend A teacher's ability to use content as a springboard to
their thinking, independent, creative, or critical thinking or to design
activities that specifically encourage such thinking.
C4: Monitoring students' understand- Includes sensitivity to verbal and nonverbal cues from
ing of content through a variety of students as to their understanding of what is expected
means, providing feedback to and ability to recognize teachable moments as they
students to assist learning, and occur.
adjusting learning activities as the
situation demands.
D4: Communicating with parents or Knowledge of various means of communication with
guardians about student learning, parents and the appropriate use of those means, within
realistic limits, to foster school success for students.
[Dwyer, C. (1993). Teaching and diversity: Meeting the challenges for innovative teacher assessments.
Journal of Teacher Education, 44, 119-129.]

A fifth potential source for evaluating a teacher's ability to work with CDLs & ELLs is the
English-Language Learner Classroom Observation Instrument (Haager et al., 2003). This
instrument was designed as a research tool for the evaluation of beginning reading instruction
and not as a measure of comprehensive teacher quality. It has correlated reasonably well with the
reading growth of first-grade students (Haager et al.), and includes a section specifically focusing
on how teachers integrate English language development into reading instruction. The subscales
of the English-Language Learner Classroom Observation Instrument are: (a) explicit teaching/art
of teaching, (b) instruction geared toward low performers, (c) sheltered English techniques, (d)
interactive teaching, (e) vocabulary development, and (f) phonemic awareness and decoding.

The measures and models that do not provide support for assessing beginning teacher quality in
working with CDLs and ELLs are the SASS instrument and process-product models. The SASS
measures do not specifically ask teachers about their teaching practices with CDLs and ELLs.
Similarly, no specific research has been conducted on beginning special education teacher's
knowledge or skills in teaching CDLs and ELLs using measures based on research.
Clearly, research on teacher quality in working with CDLs and ELLs could include the measures
or models outlined by CEC, INTASC, the English-Language Learner Classroom Observation
Instrument, PRAXIS III, and SPeNSE. For assessing teacher quality with CDLs and ELLs as
special populations, the five models or measures meet the criteria discussed earlier (see Table 1)
for generality by tapping competencies related to teaching CDLs and ELLs. CEC, INTASC, and
the English-Language Learner Classroom Observation Instrument have a fair number of
competencies related to CDLs and ELLs and appear to satisfy the criteria for comprehensiveness
(richness and breadth) adequately. Of all the measures or models, PRAXIS III meets the criteria
for credibility (stakeholders' validation) based on its rich theoretical background in culturally
responsive pedagogy and for soundness (reliability and validity) based on its reliable and valid
measurement of teacher effectiveness. The English-Language Learner Classroom Observation
Instrument would also meet the criteria for soundness and is the only measure that has been used
for research on teacher effectiveness and student outcomes with culturally and linguistically
diverse populations. It does support the criteria for utility (used by other researchers) because of
its focus on reading; however, it does not have utility for overall teacher quality. Because of its
reliance on self-report and survey input, SPeNSE meets the criteria on practicality (costs and
training requirements).

In order to examine the impact of teacher preparation in diversity on preservice teachers,
researchers must use multiple ways of tapping preservice teachers' knowledge and beliefs. In
Kennedy's framework (1999), the measures we consider to be first-level are the English-
Language Learner Classroom Observation Instrument, PRAXIS III, and third-level SPeNSE
approximations. A combination of survey items from SPeNSE, classroom observations on Praxis
III, the English-Language Learner Classroom Observation Instrument, and questionnaires on
teachers' knowledge and beliefs from the CEC and INTASC standards could yield rich
information on what beginning teachers understand and believe about diverse students.


Teacher quality means different things to different groups. Moreover, these groups use models
and measures of teacher quality differently based on the purposes each may have for
understanding and using the concepts. On one hand, a researcher may be willing to use measures
that take time and are more difficult to administer because of an interest in deeply understanding
many dimensions of teacher quality. On the other hand, a policy maker may want to acquire
information quickly and efficiently and call on measures that will accomplish this purpose. For
some, this could even mean equating beginning teacher quality with whether the teacher receives
state certification.

Even within the community of researchers who study teacher quality, there is no single definition
or measure of the concept for beginning or experienced teachers, either in general education or in
special education. This point is made clear by our reviews of the literature in earlier sections of
this paper. Indeed, the influences on teacher quality are many, as illustrated in Figure 1.

As inquiry into teaching and teacher education has grown and matured, both in general education
and special education, models and measures of teacher quality have expanded similarly. In short,
the greater the knowledge and understanding of teaching and teacher education in either field,
the more choices there are of models and measures of teacher quality.

In this paper, we identified classes of models and measures, presented examples of each,
considered research genres for which each class would be appropriate, and discussed their merits
using evaluation criteria. These analyses, summarized in Table 1, lead to a single, irrefutable
conclusion: The superiority of one model over another depends on the purpose and context of its
use. For most purposes, the best approach would be to pick and choose from several models. In
special education, there is a great need to accelerate research on beginning teacher quality by
drawing on models and measures set forth in this paper.

As a guide to this work, we conclude with the following recommendations:

Use multiple research traditions in conducting beginning teacher quality
research. With the exception of process-product research, special education has produced only
a handful of research studies drawn from other research traditions. This fact alone calls out to
special educators to expand research on teacher quality to include programs of research focused
on understanding the complexity of teachers' actions and interactions with students and contexts.

Conduct beginning teacher quality research in all areas of special education. We
noted previously that most research on teaching in special education has focused on teachers of
high-incidence disability groups. In addition to expanding research in this area, we strongly
recommend the initiation and acceleration of research programs on beginning teacher quality for
teachers of students with severe disabilities, teachers in transition programs, and teachers serving
culturally diverse and English language learners. We believe these final sections of the paper set
the stage for research on beginning teacher quality in these areas.

Get the attention of policy makers by producing compelling research findings and
by linking measures of teacher quality with student outcomes. Because policy
makers often seek measures of teacher quality as quick and easy sound bites for public
consumption, we offer two major recommendations to special education researchers. First, it is
critical that the special education research community take research on teacher quality more
seriously to assure that we accumulate findings that will persuade policy makers to avoid simple
solutions to complex problems. In short, we must educate policy makers about the complexity of
teaching and learning. Second, and equally critical, researchers would be well advised to use
validated measures of beginning teacher quality that are known to relate to student outcomes.

Use caution in developing and using measures based on teaching standards. We
noted earlier in our paper that assessments have not been developed, or are in very early stages of
development, for some of the teaching standards (e.g., CEC, INTASC) currently in use. We also
noted that we found only one reported study that used standards as an outcome measure in
teacher education research. Consequently, professional groups would be well advised to follow
the lead of the NBPTS and develop research programs to validate their assessment processes. A
second equally important consideration in transforming standards into measures of beginning
teacher quality is whether these measures discriminate among beginning teachers on their
development of knowledge and skills. For example, some beginning teachers may only
understand what the direct instruction approach is, along with how to implement the approach,
while other beginning teachers have developed to the level of understanding when and why the
approach would be used in particular settings. These differences in levels of expertise require
differences in the way assessments are constructed and conducted. Without these considerations,
researchers may tend to underestimate the task of assessing teacher quality.

Seek to publish special education research findings in journals outside of special
education. As special educators select journals or other publication outlets for their research
on beginning teacher quality, we urge them to consider journals outside of special education so
that this research is scrutinized by peers in other fields. Moreover, the potential to influence
others is greater if special education research reaches beyond colleagues in our own field.


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Statement of Purpose

University programs bear an important share of the responsibility for ensuring that the
educational needs of students with severe disabilities are met in general education settings with
their non-disabled peers. The purpose of this resolution is to establish guidelines for the
preparation of teachers, both those seeking initial certification and those seeking advanced


TASH's Resolution on Education for Students n ith Disabilities is grounded in principles of
equity and social justice for all. It clearly states the educational and moral imperative that
students with disabilities belong with their non-disabled same age peers in general education
classrooms, and that they receive the supports and services necessary to benefit from their
education in the general education setting. In conjunction with this, it is TASH's position that
teacher education programs must be inclusive and collaborative, so that (a) special and general
educators are prepared to meet the needs of all students through collaboration and effective
teaching, and (b) the expertise required to meet the individualized needs of each student is easily
accessible on education teams. TASH's position is based on the beliefs that teacher education
programs should reflect research and ongoing reflection and discourse about effective practices
both in educational services for students with disabilities and in teacher preparation. Teacher
education programs must prepare teachers at two levels--entry level teachers with a broad base of
knowledge in general and special education, and advanced level specialists with extensive
expertise in either general education (e.g., reading methods, math instruction) or special
education (e.g., modifications for students with mild or severe disabilities).

In relation in preparing teachers to meet the needs of students with severe disabilities, therefore,
at least two types of efforts are warranted. First, entry-level programs should provide all teachers
a solid foundation in general education curriculum, instructional methods, and assessment, as
well as basic expertise related to serving students with severe disabilities in general education
settings. To this end, all teachers need to be prepared to:

teach a diverse population of learners within heterogeneous groups, including: (a)
those with a range of abilities and needs; (b) those from a variety of racial, ethnic,
cultural, linguistic, and economic backgrounds; and (c) those from a variety of
family configurations and support systems
collaborate with families and other individuals who provide personal supports, in
order to strengthen their role and ensure that they have meaningful opportunities to
participate in the education of children at school, at home, and in the community

1 Reprinted from TASH (2002, January). TASH resolution of teacher education. Retrieved
August 9, 2003, from http://www.tash.org/resolutions/res02teachered.htm.


collaborate with school and non-school personnel (e.g., general and special
educators; related services providers; support personnel; administrators; adult
services providers; community agency personnel) to plan and provide individualized
gather assessment and other information relative to individual choices, growth, and
progress, in order to ensure that each student's meaningful involvement within all
aspects of community life is used as a foundation for making decisions related to
curriculum and instruction
employ a collaborative educational planning process (e.g., understanding of factors
that influence school change; self-determination; person-centered planning) with the
student and his/her family that results in increased voice, independence,
interdependence, and control over the selection of valued educational outcomes
design and use meaningful learner-centered curriculum and effective and non-
intrusive instructional methods
provide an individually appropriate education for all school-aged children and youth
in the context of the general education curriculum, within general education
activities, in general education settings, using (a) curricular and instructional
modifications and accommodations, (b) assistive technology, (c) augmentative and
alternative communication systems, and (d) supports provided in the least intrusive
provide an individually appropriate education for all young adults who are in
transition into adult life so that they can live and work in the community, including
outcomes-oriented preparation for employment, community-based instruction, and
supported living
train, supervise, and evaluate non-professional members of education teams (e.g.,
paraeducators, peer tutors, volunteers)
build classroom and school community, so that all children: (a) are valued members
who are accepted and respected as individuals with differing voices, strengths,
abilities, and contributions; and (b) learn to deal with controversy and conflict in
creative and constructive ways.
Second, advanced level teacher education programs should provide opportunities for in-depth
study of and specialization in services in general education settings for students with severe
disabilities that reflect current effective practices and theory as grounded in careful inquiry and
analysis. Advanced level programs should include:

blending of research and theory into effective practices within all aspects of
individuals' environments (e.g., school, home, community, workplace), emphasizing
participation in general education curriculum, activities, and settings
specialized knowledge required to meet the educational needs of students with severe
disabilities (e.g., assisted eating and positioning; assistive technology; augmentative
and alternative communication)

graduate students' utilization of current effective practices (e.g., general education
curriculum and instruction modifications; instructional strategies; collaborative
teaming strategies; natural support networks; positive behavioral supports; transition
services; life-long learning and self-advocacy) with students who demonstrate a wide
variety of abilities and needs (e.g., cognitive, emotional, sensory) across age ranges
preparation of professionals who engage in reflection and life-long learning in
relation to educational services for students with severe disabilities within the school
preparation of teachers to assume leadership roles within educational programs (e.g.,
the cycle of program evaluation, development, implementation, evaluation, etc.)
preparation of teachers who employ strategies that teach students with disabilities to
be self-advocates and community leaders.

In relation to effective practices in teacher education activities, programs must reflect research-
supported practices and innovations that result in effective teachers who are reflective life-long
learners. Such practices include:

the use of authentic portfolio-based activities that support the development of
teachers who collaboratively team and problem-solve with others, in order to provide
effective and personally meaningful services for students with severe disabilities in
inclusive settings
a close link between content courses and field-based experiences, so that field-based
experiences reflect the use of content as it is addressed in courses
a coordinated set of courses, activities, and field-based experiences, accompanied by
on-going mentoring relationships with 1-2 program faculty, that facilitate the
continuous development of professionals from an emerging, to a proficient, to a
mastery level of expertise (instead of a set of isolated courses or experiences)
ongoing collaborative support of new teachers through the induction process by both
program faculty and school district personnel.

Therefore, be it resolved, that TASH, an international advocacy association of people with
disabilities, their family members, other advocates and people who work in the disability field,
affirm that teacher preparation programs must prepare both generalists and specialists to provide
services to students with disabilities that (a) are situated in general education settings for school-
aged students and in natural community environments for young adults; (b) focus on access to,
and the acquisition of, skills that are age- and/or grade-related; and (c) are based on knowledge
of what constitutes effective educational practices.

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