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KC Dignan, PhD

Why include job descriptions?

Job descriptions provide a framework for recruiting, hiring, operating, and most importantly, completing performance evaluations.  The job description acts as an agreement between the district and the individual, identifying the expectations of each party. 

The job description should be the basis of the performance evaluation. A well-thought-out job description promotes quality of the VI services. The job description can also provide valuable assistance in the hiring process, helping with the interview and identifying needs for professional development for new employees.

The job description is an important tool in structuring a relevant performance evaluation.  An appropriate and relevant performance evaluation will reflect a balance of those global needs evidenced by all educators and the job-specific skills and requirements necessary for success. The job description is a foundation to the evaluation process.

Assumptions

  • The district will modify sample job descriptions to fit the specific needs of the district.
  • The district will modify the format of sample job descriptions to fit the needs of the district.
  • The district will have the selected job descriptions reviewed to ensure that they meet all legal requirements.
  • The district will periodically review job descriptions for applicability and modify the descriptions as needed.
  • By accepting a job description, the district will fulfill its responsibilities in supporting the VI professional and to provide quality VI services.

How were these sample job descriptions developed?

Originally, job descriptions were requested from all of the special education administrators in Texas.  Over 300 job descriptions were collected.  Teams in various professional disciplines reviewed the job descriptions.  Based on this review and existing professional standards, sample job descriptions were developed.

How to use the sample job descriptions

Except for the VI teacher and deafblind intervener positions, multiple samples of each job category are included. Job descriptions are presented in various formats, mimicking those formats used by various programs.

For those descriptions for which there are multiple options, each sample job description is identified at the bottom of the page with a letter, such as Braillist A.  Within each category the job descriptions are listed in random order.  While variances exist, the developing committees judged them to be equivalent.

What job descriptions have been included?

VI Teacher

A teacher certified in visual impairments, or VI teacher (also TVI) provides diagnostic and instructional services to students, functions as an educational team member, and acts as a liaison with community services.  The VI teacher may be the deafblind specialist in the district.  This is an instructional position, as opposed to a related service position, and is not vision therapy (which must be conducted in an optometrist’s office). See the VI teacher job description.

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist

O&M specialists are certified to provide diagnostic and instructional services, function as educational team members, and act as liaisons with community services.  O&M specialists teach students of all ages, including infants, who are blind or visually impaired, to travel safely, efficiently, and independently in a variety of environments, including the home, school, and community.  Services by O&M specialists also include services for children with visual and multiple impairments.  See the O&M specialist job description.

Braillist

It is assumed that districts will modify the job descriptions to match existing formats and the needs of the district.

Braillists’ primary responsibility is to produce braille and other modified materials.  A braillist may or may not work directly with students.  The braillist works under the direction of a certified VI professional, and may be supervised either by the VI professional or a district administrator with input from the VI professional. See braillist job descriptions (A and B)

Paraprofessional with Brailling Responsibilities

Paraprofessional/braillists work directly with students and are responsible for braille production, materials modification, or other clerical and instructional tasks.  This person works under the direction of a certified VI professional and may be supervised either by the VI professional or a district administrator with input from the VI professional.  See para-braillist job descriptions ( A and B).

Paraprofessional

VI paraprofessionals are responsible for materials modification, clerical tasks, and working directly with students.  This paraprofessional is not responsible for braille, but may be responsible for materials modification, or other clerical and instructional tasks.  This person works under the direction of a certified VI professional and may be supervised either by the VI professional or a district administrator with input from the VI professional.  See paraprofessional job descriptions (A and B)

Deafblind Intervener

An intervener is a specialized paraprofessional who is trained to work with a specific deafblind student.  She or he works under the direction of the deafblind specialist.  The deafblind specialist may be certified in deafblindness or visual impairments or auditory impairments and have specialized training in deafblindness.    The primary responsibilities for the intervener are to ensure that the student who is deafblind has maximum access to the environment and communication opportunities.  An intervener acts as a bridge to the world, facilitating communication and interacting with the environment.  See the deafblind intervener job description.

How do job descriptions affect performance evaluations?

Job descriptions are a foundation to appropriate and effective performance evaluations

Performance evaluations are an important and required part of the job.  Recent and anticipated legislative and policy changes have increased their importance.  They help administrators learn about the roles and functions of VI professionals, where further guidance is needed and learn where excellence exists.  Performance evaluations provide accountability and quality assurance to the public.

The first stone in the foundation of an evaluation is the job description.  It is the mutually accepted description of the employee’s responsibilities.  Another critical part of the foundation in a rigorous and appropriate performance evaluation is that the evaluator has knowledge of what he or she is evaluating.  The job description is a valuable source of information for that purpose as well.

Like all professionals, VI professionals are evaluated.  The evaluation data are most frequently gathered from instruments or procedures developed for classroom settings and/or for teacher who work with groups of students.  While the basic tenets of the system being used are appropriate for VI professionals, often there Is a breakdown in shift from a classroom teacher to an itinerant or other non-traditional educator.  The Performance Evaluation chapter will provide guidance for using your existing evaluation instruments for evaluating non-classroom, disability-specific VI professionals.

Since there are many duties specific to any itinerant positions, the job descriptions included in this Toolbox can assist the district in using a more thorough and effective process for professional evaluations. The job responsibilities and duties listed in the descriptions provide a framework for expectations from the onset of the professional relationship, and should be shared with administrators working with VI professionals.