Evaluation of Effectiveness: Texas

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


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

Meets a small part of goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2013). Evaluation of Effectiveness: Texas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/TX-Evaluation-of-Effectiveness-22

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.
A four-tiered rating system is used: exceeds expectations, proficient, below expectations and unsatisfactory. 
Texas has created a Teacher Effectiveness Workgroup to make recommendations regarding a new teacher evaluation system that would incorporate student growth. 
Texas has also received a conditional waiver from portions of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which requires the state to include growth in student achievement as a significant factor in the evaluation framework. The state will need to address these stipulations in board rule or statute to maintain compliance with the waiver. 


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 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.

State response to our analysis

Texas was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state added that based on feedback from the field and SB 1383 (82nd legislative session), Texas is in the process of developing both a teacher appraisal system and a principal evaluation system that will be developed in the 2013-2014 school year and piloted in the 2014-2015 school year—with full statewide implementation in the 2015-216 school year. This work complements Texas's proposal in the ESEA flexibility waiver, which articulates that teachers must be evaluated with no less frequency than every three years. However, annual evaluations are strongly encouraged. 

Texas also asserted that it is in the process of developing Texas Teaching Standards, which will be used to inform the development of the teacher appraisal system. 

Research rationale

Teachers should be judged primarily by their impact on students.

While many factors should be considered in formally evaluating a teacher, nothing is more important than effectiveness in the classroom. Unfortunately, districts have used many evaluation instruments, including some mandated by states that are structured, so that teachers can earn a satisfactory rating without any evidence that they are sufficiently advancing student learning in the classroom. It is often enough that teachers appear to be trying, not that they are necessarily succeeding.

Many evaluation instruments give as much weight, or more, to factors that lack any direct correlation with student performance—for example, taking professional development courses, assuming extra duties such as sponsoring a club or mentoring and getting along well with colleagues. Some instruments hesitate to hold teachers accountable for student progress. Teacher evaluation instruments should include factors that combine both human judgment and objective measures of student learning.

Evaluation of Effectiveness: Supporting Research

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, "Hiring, Assignment, and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools", July 2007 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 Lars Lefgren and Brian Jacobs, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next, Volume 6, No. 2, Spring 2006, pp.59-69. 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. Glazerman, D. Goldhaber, S. Loeb, S. Raudenbush, D. Staiger, and G. Whitehurst, "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, E. Taylor, J. Tyler, and A. Wooten, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next, Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2011, pp.55-60; E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." NBER Working Paper No. 16877, March 2011; as well as H. Heneman III, A. Milanowski, S. Kimball, and A. Odden, "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, March 2006.