How middle school special and general educators make sense of and respond to changes in teacher evaluation policy




teacher evaluation, accountability, educational reform, sensemaking theory


In this multiple case study, we apply sensemaking theory to examine and compare how middle school special and general educators perceive and respond to teacher evaluation reform, including formal classroom observations, informal walkthroughs, and student growth measures. Our findings reveal that special educators experience conflict between the policy’s main elements and their understandings of how to effectively teach students with disabilities. Furthermore, special and general educators held contrasting beliefs regarding the appropriateness of evaluation. Our findings illustrate the importance of acknowledging differences in special and general educators’ roles and responsibilities and encourage policymakers to reconsider uniform teacher evaluation policies.



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Author Biographies

Alisha M. B. Braun, University of South Florida

Alisha M. B. Braun, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Social Foundations in the Department of Educational and Psychological Studies at the University of South Florida. Her research explores educational policies and practices related to access to quality education for marginalized children, with a focus on children with disabilities in developing contexts.  

Peter Youngs, University of Virginia

Peter Youngs, Ph.D. is a Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education at the University of Virginia. His research explores the effects of educational policy and school social context on teaching and learning in the core academic subjects. His work has a special focus on the relationship between policy and practice in the areas of teacher education, induction, evaluation, and professional development.




How to Cite

Braun, A. M. B., & Youngs, P. (2020). How middle school special and general educators make sense of and respond to changes in teacher evaluation policy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 28, 59.



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