Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should ensure that teachers receive feedback about their performance and should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations. This goal remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
Evaluation Feedback: Texas's new evaluation system, Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS), requires end-of-year conferences for teachers and appraisers to review the information collected throughout the year, summarize the current year, and prepare for the following year.
Professional Development: Texas specifies that professional development activities for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations must be aligned with findings from teacher evaluations.
Improvement Plans: Texas requires all teachers to develop professional development plans; however, the state does not specifically require that teachers who receive less-than-effective rating are placed on targeted improvement plans.
Evaluation Rating Categories: Texas requires a five-tiered rating system: distinguished, accomplished, proficient, developing, and improvement needed.
Texas Administrative Code 150.1002; -.1003; -.1004 T-TESS Guidebook: https://teachfortexas.org/Resource_Files/Guides/T-TESS_Implementation_Guidebook.pdf
Ensure that professional development is aligned with findings from teachers' evaluations.
While Texas has taken steps to ensure that teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations receive coordinated professional development based on these findings, the state should strengthen this policy by requiring that all teachers receive professional development that is aligned with their evaluation results.
Ensure that teachers receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
Texas should adopt a policy requiring that teachers who receive even one less-than-effective evaluation are placed on structured improvement plans. Even though the state requires coordinated professional development for teachers with unsatisfactory ratings, Texas should strengthen this policy by requiring that the plans define specific action steps necessary to address deficiencies and describe how and when progress will be measured.
Texas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
7D: Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth
Professional development should be connected to needs identified through teacher evaluations. The goal of teacher evaluation systems should be not just to identify highly effective teachers and those who underperform but to help all teachers improve. Even highly effective teachers may have areas where they can continue to grow and develop their knowledge and skills. Rigorous evaluations should provide actionable feedback on teachers' strengths and weaknesses that can form the basis of professional development activities. Too often professional development is random rather than targeted to the identified needs of individual teachers. Failure to make the connection between evaluations and professional development squanders the likelihood that professional development will be meaningful.
Many states are only explicit about tying professional development plans to evaluation results if the evaluation results are bad. Good evaluations with meaningful feedback should be useful to all teachers, and if done right should help design professional development plans for all teachers—not just those who receive poor ratings.
To further increase the utility and validity of evaluation systems, states should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance rather than only giving binary satisfactory/unsatisfactory ratings. Binary rating systems often offer little meaning because virtually all teachers receive satisfactory ratings. More rating categories allow for more nuanced distinctions between levels of teacher performance.