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Cuomo confident of teacher eval deal by deadline

2.14.2012 | The Wall Street Journal | The independent Advocates for Children of New York are trying to insert provisions that recognize the particular challenges of special education teachers, who must help students with emotional and physical disabilities, and others who are teaching immigrant students to learn English along with their lessons.

"A teacher working with a student with disabilities has to contend with overall classroom goals, but also with the individualized goal of students," said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, which is funded by independent foundations and isn't connected to teacher unions. "In addition to content and curriculum, students may be working with social and emotional issues, many may have physical issues and are working at a different level, although the same content, as other classes. A teacher has to differentiate instruction to a whole different level."

The unintended consequence of a general evaluation system that doesn't make allowances for these instances risks the firing of hard-to-keep teachers in special education, more disabled students turned to less rigorous alternative assessments, and a shortage of teachers entering the difficult field, said Gisela Alvarez, senior project manager at the organization that serves low-income students, mostly in New York City. … Read article