2011 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
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.
Teacher Education Code 21.351 Professional Development Appraisal System http://www5.esc13.net/pdas/
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.
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.
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.