Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Special education teachers are expected to fulfill diverse teaching and non-teaching tasks in comparison to their general education peers. However, their performance is evaluated with measures that were normed for use with general education teachers. These specialty teachers are also routinely evaluated by professionals who may lack formal special education training or experience. These conditions render special educators vulnerable for inaccurate performance evaluation. Explicit research is needed to clarify the professional skills that are most critical to special educators’ professional effectiveness and ensure continuity of focus on these skills in preservice teacher education and employment contexts. This qualitative study builds on an earlier empirical investigation that demonstrated consensus among three sets of professionals that the standards developed by Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) represented skills that are critical for special education teacher effectiveness. The current study describes which skill domains were identified as essential for special education teacher effectiveness across participant groups and those that reflected distinct groups’ perspectives. Implications for future research are presented relative to strategies to more clearly articulate special education teacher expertise and ways to strengthen continuity across pre-service special education teacher education and in-service professional development contexts.


This is the accepted manuscript of the following publication:

Woolf, Sara B. "Critical Skills for Special Educator Effectiveness: Which Ones Matter Most, and to Whom?" Teacher Education and Special Education, 2008. doi: 10.1177/0888406418776714

Copyright © 2018, reprinted by permission of SAGE publications

SBWoolf-TESE-Author_Byline_Acknowledgements-TESE.2018.doc (23 kB)
Author byline and acknowledgements



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.