Teacher Evaluation: WHY It Matters and HOW We Can Do Better
An in-depth look...
Children’s rights advocate Marian Wright Edelman once said, “We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to the big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
This quote seems especially relevant today because it’s the beginning of Educational Diagnosticians’ Week. This week, we acknowledge the important work done by so many diagnosticians across the country who are in the unique position to see and advocate for the small daily differences that can add up to a brighter big picture for so many students. These professionals play a crucial role in the determination of special education eligibility, intervention planning and the measurement of IEP success.
Diagnosticians have the ability see daily differences that can be made in the classroom because they were special educators before they were student evaluators.
The role, introduced on a national level in 1997 by the Council for Exceptional Children, leverages professional teaching and assessment experience to identify specific challenges a student with special needs is facing on his or her learning path. Pinpointing these challenges and measuring the efficacy of interventions often means diagnosticians need to sift through vast amounts of student data. Access to all of this data presents a great opportunity to make precise recommendations, but isn’t without its headaches.
“The biggest challenge I faced was managing the volume of data that came across my desk,” notes former diagnostician Jason Stewart. “One thing that helped was to really learn the fine details of the special education data management system we were using, including the reports that no one else used, and the tips and tricks that were often overlooked.”
Stewart acknowledges that the role of diagnostician sometimes seemed like a thankless job, but that interacting with students on a daily basis was a good way to remind himself of the impact he was having, and the importance of the work.
“I liked to go into the PPCD (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) classroom at the end of a long day. It just helped bring things back into focus.”
“One of the unexpected challenges I faced as a diag was the significant amount of time it took to round up information on a student, following an initial referral,” says former diagnostician Katie Moyle. “It was like a treasure hunt. Finding room in schedules to connect with busy colleagues was often a bit tricky.”
Have you appreciated the work of a diagnostician in your school or district? Thank a diagnostician this week using #hugyourdiag!