Title: Beginning teacher quality
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090863/00001
 Material Information
Title: Beginning teacher quality
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Brownell, Mary T.
Publisher: Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education, College of Education, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090863
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Beginning Teacher Quality: Study Description
Beginning Teacher Quality in Special Education -
Understanding the Practices of Beginners
Questions Addressed
What defines teacher quality in beginning special education
What are the classroom practices and beliefs that
promote growth in reading skills for 4 th and 5 th grade
students with high incidence cognitive disabilities?
Can we develop an instruments) that validly and reliably
captures those practices?
Can we measure the reading knowledge of beginning
teachers to determine the role it plays in teacher quality?
Can we establish the role initial preparation and working
conditions play in supporting or hindering a beginning
special education teacher's ability to deliver reading

University of Florida
Mary T. Brownell
Co-Director, Center on Personnel Studies in Special
University of Florida
G-315 Norman Hall
Gainesville FL 32611-7050
(352) 392-0701 (x249)
(352) 392-2655 (fax)

Anne G. Bishop
Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education
University of Florida
G-315 Norman Hall

Gainesville FL 32611-7050
(352) 392-0701 (x280)
(352) 392-2655 (fax)

Paul T. Sindelar
Director Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education
University of Florida
G-315 Norman Hall
Gainesville FL 32611-7050
(352) 392-0701 (x255)
(352) 392-2655 (fax)

Instructional Research Group
Russell Gersten
Director- Instructional Research Group
2525 Cherry Ave. Suite 300
Signal Hill CA 90755
rqerste n inresq.org
(562) 981-0811 (office)
(562) 595-9788 (fax)

Joe Dimino
Instructional Research Group
2525 Cherry Ave. Suite 300
Signal Hill CA 90755
(562) 981-0811 (office)
(562) 595-9788 (fax)

Diane Haager
California State at Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032

(323) 343-4406 phone

University of Colorado Boulder

Janette Klingner
School of Education Room 203
University of Colorado at Boulder 249 UCB
Boulder, CO 83009-0249
(303)492.0773 (phone)
(303)492.7090 (fax)

Shailaja Menon
School of Education
University of Colorado at Boulder 249 UCB
Boulder, CO 83009-0249
(303)492.7090 (fax)

Description of the Beginning Teacher Quality Study
Operationalizing beginning teacher quality in both special and general
education is imperative in a policy context that emphasizes outcomes and
questions the ability of teacher education programs in general to prepare
teachers in ways that they can achieve acceptable student outcomes (e.g., U.S.
Department of Education, 2002). While special and general educators have
developed numerous standards to guide their practice and the accreditation of
teacher education programs, these standards have not been operationalized in
ways that they can be used to determine the influence of initial preparation on
beginning teacher practice. Moreover, the expansive nature of beginning
teacher standards makes them difficult to operationalize (Blanton, Sindelar,
Correa, McDonald, & Hardman, 2002). Clearly, we need to develop other
measures of beginning teacher practice in special education that can be used to
assess the influence of initial preparation (Brownell, Ross, Colon, &
McCallum, 2002).

Developing measures of effective beginning teacher practice in special
education, however, is no small task. As a field, we have insufficient
consensus about what effective teaching looks like (Blanton et al., 2002), and

the complex nature of special education makes it difficult to establish linkages
between what teachers do and how their students achieve. Special educators
serve students whose needs vary widely across type of disability and age.
Moreover, group administered standardized tests, such as the National
Assessment of Educational Progress used in studies of general education
teacher quality, are insufficient indicators of effective performance for students
with disabilities. Few special education professionals would argue that one
measure of academic achievement is an appropriate indicator of student
progress, especially given the complex social and emotional needs that some
students may have.

We also have a limited amount of prior research on effective teaching to use as
a foundation for examining beginning teacher practice. Prior process product
research provided some insight into teaching behaviors that were linked with
gains in student achievement (e.g., academic engaged time). However, this
research was heavily criticized in the last decade for not capturing the
complexity of teaching (Blanton, 1992). More recently, research on effective
elementary literacy instruction has emerged that provides a more
comprehensive picture of what effective reading teachers do; yet, this research
is situated solely in general education classrooms and involves expert teachers
(Haager, Gersten, Baker, & Graves, 2002; Pressley, Allington, Wharton-
McDonald, Block, & Morrow, 2001). As a field, we need to understand more
about the utility of this research for understanding beginning special education
teacher practice.

In the sections below, we describe research that is being conducted during year
three and four of the COPSSE project as we attempt to capture the practices of
beginners by validating an observation measure designed to examine their
general instructional practices, classroom management, and instruction
specific to reading. Preliminary data is also being collected that relates to the
teacher's belief, knowledge, context and preparation
Purpose of Study

We have engaged in research to determine if the classroom
practices, beliefs, and knowledge of beginning special
education teachers (who teach reading to students with high
incidence disabilities in the upper elementary grades) can be
linked to student outcomes. To this end, one goal was to
validate an observation instrument for determining the quality
of beginning special educators' teaching and management.
Because we were also interested in teacher beliefs, school
context, and the nature and quality of initial preparation, we
surveyed and interviewed teachers about how these factors
influenced what they did in their classroom. Last,

understanding the level of reading content knowledge in
beginners was also critical to understanding how teacher
practice contributes to student outcomes. Teachers were
surveyed in this regard. All of this research lays the
groundwork for future study that links teacher quality, student
outcomes and teacher preparation.
Beginning teachers (those completing their first, second, or
third year) that provide reading instruction to third, fourth, or
fifth grade students with high incidence cognitive disabilities
were selected for the study. We chose reading instruction
because of the extensive knowledge base on effective,
research-based reading practices and because reading
instruction across these grade levels is likely to be similar.
Teachers were drawn from urban, rural, and suburban
districts in Florida California and Colorado A total of 38
teachers were observed across the sites. Each teacher was
observed three to four times. Numbers of observations were
dependent on the amount of time teachers provided reading
instruction. During observations, field notes were taken, and
then used to complete an observation instrument designed to
capture general instructional practices, classroom
management, levels of engagement, and comprehensive
reading instruction. Items were adapted from the English
Language Learner Classroom Observation Instrument
developed earlier by Scott Baker, Russell Gersten and
colleagues. The instrument was initially used to observe first
grade teachers of English language learners. We also
interviewed and surveyed teachers about their initial
preparation, work context, and beliefs. In addition, reading
content knowledge survey was administered, created by the
University of Michigan researchers, under the direction of
Deborah Ball and Geoffrey Phelps. Student outcome data
were collected relating to reading performance in the areas of
reading fluency, comprehension, and word attack and word
identification. Data collection and analysis will be complete
by fall of 2004.

Initial Findings

A sub study was conducted based on data collected during a
pilot study in Florida The purpose of the study was to
examine what beginning special education teachers'
practices look like in terms of engaging students during
reading instruction, and to examine what influences
beginning teacher practice.
Future Research
The Center plans to design a new study to address the
following question: To what extent does intensity of
preparation in reading play a role in beginning teachers'
classroom reading practices?
Related Research
Blanton, L. P. (1992). Preservice Education; Essential
knowledge for the effective special education teacher.
Teacher Education and Special Education, 15, 87-96.

Blanton, L. P., Sindelar, P. T., Correa, V., I. Hardman,
M., McDonnell, J., & Kuhel, K. (2002). Conceptions of
beginning teacher quality: Models for conducting research.
Center for Personnel Studies in Special Education. Retrieved
May 1, 2003 from http://www.copsse.orq/

Brownell, M. T., Ross, D., Colon, E., & McCallum, C.
(2002). Critical features of special education teacher
preparation: A comparison with exemplary practices in
general teacher education. Center for Personnel Studies in
Special Education. Retrieved May 1, 2003 from

Haager, D., Gersten, R., Baker, S., & Graves A.
(2002). The English-language learner classroom observation
instrument: Observations of beginning reading instruction in

urban schools. Unpublished manuscript.

Pressley, M., Allington, R. L., Wharton-McDonald, R.,
Block, C. C., & Morrow, L. M. (2001). Learning to read:
Lessons from exemplary first-grade classrooms. Solving
problems in the teaching of literacy. New York : Guilford .

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary
Education, Office of Policy Planning and Innovation. (2002).
Meeting the highly qualified teachers challenge: The
secretary's annual report on teacher quality. Washington ,
D.C. : Author.

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