Brown Bag Lecture Series: Courtney Bell

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 11:45am - 1:00pm

GSE 124

Brown Bag Lecture Series

High-stakes Observations of Special Education Teachers With Danielson’s Framework for Teaching

Courtney Bell

Educational Testing Service


All 50 states now require classroom observation systems in teachers’ evaluation systems, and schools often use the information derived from observations to foster teacher development and to guide human capital decisions. However, no research studies have examined the validity of general observation systems for use with special educators, a group that represents approximately 14.5% of the teaching workforce. Further, it is unclear whether such systems appropriately account for the kinds of instructional practices most commonly used by special educators. To help identify effective special education teachers and to help those who are struggling to improve, it is critical that districts have accurate, reliable observation data. In the present study, we investigate the extent to which the Danielson’s Framework for Teaching (FFT) captures special educators’ practice in valid and reliable ways. To do so, we adopt Kane’s validity argument approach, in which we appraise the plausibility of the argument that judgments of special educator teaching quality can be made on the basis of FFT scores.


Courtney Bell, Principal Research Scientist in ETS’s Global Assessment Center, completed her doctorate at Michigan State University in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Policy after earning her B.A. in Chemistry at Dartmouth College. A former high school science teacher and teacher educator, Courtney’s research looks across actors in the educational system to better understand the intersections of research, policy, and practice. Her studies use mixed-methods to analyze the measurement of teaching and the validity of measures of teaching quality, especially observational measures. Current and recent studies investigate how administrators learn to use a high-stakes observation protocol, how raters use subject-specific and general protocols, how measures of teaching compare across countries, and the ways in which observation protocols capture high-quality teaching for students with special needs. She has published in a variety of scholarly journals and also co-edited the 5th Edition of the American Educational Research Association’s Handbook of Research on Teaching.


Join us remotely via webinar! Go to:


Who to contact:

Colleen McDermott