Frequency of Evaluations : Texas

2011 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Frequency of Evaluations : Texas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/TX-Frequency-of-Evaluations--8

Analysis of Texas's policies

Regrettably, Texas does not ensure that all teachers are evaluated annually.

Nonprobationary teachers are required to be evaluated annually; however, they may be evaluated less frequently if the teacher agrees in writing and the teacher was rated proficient on his or her most recent evaluation. In this case, teachers must be evaluated at least once every five years.

New teachers in Texas must be formally evaluated at least once a year. The state's policy does not include any guidelines on when these evaluations should occur.

Citation

Recommendations for Texas

Require annual formal evaluations for all teachers.
All teachers in Texas should be evaluated annually. Rather than treated as mere formalities, these teacher evaluations should serve as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance.  

Base evaluations on multiple observations.
To guarantee that annual evaluations are based on an adequate collection of information, Texas should require multiple observations for all teachers, even those who have nonprobationary status. 

Ensure that new teachers are observed and receive feedback early in the school year.
It is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers. Texas should ensure that its new teachers get the support they need and that supervisors know early on which new teachers may be struggling or at risk for unacceptable levels of performance.

State response to our analysis

Texas asserted that probationary teachers and candidates in an alternate certification program (teacher of record) must be contacted within the first three weeks of placement, and the first evaluation must be conducted during the first six weeks of placement. Probationary teachers must be observed a minimum of three times: twice in the first semester and once in the second semester. Observations must be a minimum of 45 minutes and be followed by an interactive conference. Observations are conducted by a field supervisor hired by the preparation program, and results are shared with the campus principal. Districts will require additional evaluations conducted by the principal and other certified evaluators on the campus. 

Last word

These observations are conducted as part of "on-going educator preparation program support," and it is unclear how the information gleaned from these observations is utilized by the principal and/or district. 

How we graded

Annual evaluations are standard practice in most professional jobs.

Although there has been much progress on this front recently, about half of the states still do not mandate annual evaluations of teachers who have reached permanent or tenured status. The lack of regular evaluations is unique to the teaching profession and does little to advance the notion that teachers are professionals.

Further, teacher evaluations are too often treated as mere formalities rather than as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers improve and holding weak teachers accountable for poor performance. State policy should reflect the importance of evaluations so that teachers and principals alike take their consequences seriously.

Evaluations are especially important for new teachers.

Individuals new to a profession frequently have reduced responsibilities coupled with increased oversight. As competencies are demonstrated, new responsibilities are added and supervision decreases. Such is seldom the case for new teachers, who generally have the same classroom responsibilities as veteran teachers, including responsibility for the academic progress of their students, but may receive limited feedback on their performance. In the absence of good metrics for determining who will be an effective teacher before he or she begins to teach, it is critical that schools and districts closely monitor the performance of new teachers.

The state should specifically require that districts observe new teachers early in the school year. This policy would help ensure that new teachers get the support they need early and that supervisors know from the beginning of the school year which new teachers (and which students) may be at risk. Subsequent observations provide important data about the teacher's ability to improve. Data from evaluations from the teacher's early years of teaching can then be used as part of the performance-based evidence to make a decision about tenure.

Research rationale

For the frequency of evaluations in government and private industry, see survey results from Hudson Employment Index's report: "Pay and Performance in America: 2005 Compensation and Benefits Report" Hudson Highlands Group (2005).

For research emphasizing the importance of evaluation and observations for new teachers in predicting future success and providing support for teachers see, D. Staiger and J. Rockoff, "Searching for Effective Teachers with Imperfect Information." The Journal of Economic Perspectives. (24:3) American Economic Association (2010).