Evaluation of Effectiveness : Texas

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Evaluation of Effectiveness : Texas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/TX-Evaluation-of-Effectiveness--8

Analysis of Texas's policies

Texas does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.

The state allows local districts to use either a teacher evaluation instrument designed by the state (Professional Development Appraisal System) or an instrument designed by the district that the state approves. In either case, the teacher evaluation instrument must address a total of eight domains that range from professional communication and classroom management to improved academic student performance. The evaluation criteria must be based on observable, job-related behavior including "the performance of teacher's students." In addition to classroom observations, evaluators must document teachers' contribution to improving student achievement. Each of the eight domains is scored independently, and a teacher rated unsatisfactory in one or more domains is placed on an intervention plan.

Citation

Recommendations for Texas

Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Texas requires some evidence of student achievement, it is not clear whether the state requires objective evidence of student achievement for all teacher evaluations. 

Texas should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom. 

Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Texas commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.

Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, Texas should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.

State response to our analysis

Texas asserted that employment policies adopted by a board of trustees must require written evaluations for all teachers at annual or more frequent intervals. The board must consider the most recent evaluations before making a decision not to renew a teacher's contract. Further, the state contended that the commissioner must adopt a recommended appraisal process and criteria on which to appraise the performance of teachers. The criteria must be based on observable, job-related behavior, including: teachers' implementation of discipline management procedures, and the performance of teachers' students. Texas argued that by citing only two specific criteria, these two areas are the core of the teacher appraisal system. 

Last word

Although the language in the Texas statute articulates "performance of teachers' students" as one of two criteria on which the appraisal system must be based, the statute also requires that criteria are based on observable behavior. While observation of good instructional practice is certainly an important part of an evaluation system, Texas's requirements do not ensure that any objective evidence of student performance will be included.  

Research rationale

Reports strongly suggest that most current teacher evaluations are largely a meaningless process, failing to identify the strongest and weakest teachers. The New Teacher Project's report, "Teacher Hiring, Assignment and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools (CPS)" (July2007) at: http://www.tntp.org/files/TNTPAnalysis-Chicago.pdf, found that the CPS teacher performance evaluation system at that time did not distinguish strong performers and was ineffective at identifying poor performers and dismissing them from Chicago schools. See also Brian Jacobs and Lars Lefgren, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next (Spring 2006). Similar findings were reported for a larger sample in The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) at: http://widgeteffect.org/.  See also MET Project (2010). Learning about teaching: Initial findings from the measures of effective teaching project. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A Pacific Research Institute study found that in California, between 1990 and 1999, only 227 teacher dismissal cases reached the final phase of termination hearings. The authors write: "If all these cases occurred in one year, it would represent one-tenth of 1 percent of tenured teachers in the state. Yet, this number was spread out over an entire decade." In Los Angeles alone, over the same time period, only one teacher went through the dismissal process from start to finish. See Pamela A. Riley, et al., "Contract for Failure," Pacific Research Institute (2002).
That the vast majority of districts have no teachers deserving of an unsatisfactory rating does not seem to correlate with our knowledge of most professions that routinely have individuals in them who are not well suited to the job. Nor do these teacher ratings seem to correlate with school performance, suggesting teacher evaluations are not a meaningful measure of teacher effectiveness. For more information on the reliability of many evaluation systems, particularly the binary systems used by the vast majority of school districts, see S. Loeb et al, "Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added." The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality (2010). 

There is growing evidence suggesting that standards-based teacher evaluations that include multiple measures of teacher effectiveness—both objective and subjective measures—correlate with teacher improvement and student achievement. For example see T. Kane et al, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next Vol 11 No. 3 (2011); E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." National Bureau of Economic Research (2011); as well as Herbert G. Heneman III, et al., "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, 2006.