Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (PhD)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


Peggy Schaefer-Whitby

Committee Member

Tom E. Smith

Second Committee Member

Suzanne Kucharczyk

Third Committee Member

Christy Smith


Education, Arkansas, Performance indicators


A study was conducted to investigate the perceived relevance of using a teacher evaluation rubric with performance indicators specific to special education services in place of the standard rubric for teachers used in the State of Arkansas Teacher Excellence Support System (TESS). Through a multi-method approach, the perceptions of special education teachers and administrators regarding implementation of the current model, the significance of perceived differences in pedagogical factors, and potential barriers to effective implementation were identified. This was achieved through survey, interviews, and observations.

Special education teachers and administrators in a given school district were sent a brief survey to attain general perceptions regarding the new teacher evaluation system. From the pool of survey respondents, a purposive sample identified special education teachers for interview and observation to further investigate perceptions of the current system, explore perceptions regarding the development of a rubric specific to special education standards, and to reflect on data obtained through the observation process using a modified rubric.

The results of the survey, interview, and observation analyses indicate special education teachers do not perceive Arkansas TESS to be an effective measure of performance in the special education setting. Survey respondents agreed critical indicators specific to special education services are not addressed and a measure specific to special education would provide a more effective evaluation. Analysis of interviews indicated the value teachers hold in regards to the evaluation process, but also identified challenges to effective implementation of the current evaluation process for special education teachers. Specifically, the teachers discussed how the differences in competencies and practices impact the process, as well as their perception regarding administrator knowledge or experience regarding special education impacts validity. The teachers voiced opinions as to how a modified rubric or checklist, incorporating standards of special education pedagogy and practice, would increase the validity of the process, and provide value to the feedback provided to the teachers. Through the observation process, similar themes emerged which align with the context of the themes from the analysis of the interviews and survey data.