Professional Development: Texas

2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Professional Development: Texas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/TX-Professional-Development-9

Analysis of Texas's policies

Texas requires that teachers receive written feedback in the form of a summative annual appraisal report. In addition, unless waived by the teacher, a summative conference will be held focusing on the contents of the summative report and other available data sources. The state also specifies that professional development activities for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations must be aligned with findings from teacher evaluations.

Citation

Recommendations for Texas

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.

State response to our analysis

Texas asserted that staff development must be predominately campus-based, related to achieving campus performance objectives, and developed and approved by the campus-level committee. Each campus improvement plan must set the campus performance objectives based on the student achievement indicator system, including objectives for special needs populations and students in special education programs. The state pointed out that the purpose of the campus planning and Site-Based Decision-Making Committee is to direct and support the improvement of student performance for all students. The campus-level committee shall be involved in decisions in the areas of planning, budgeting, curriculum, staffing patterns, staff development and school organization.   

The state also noted that the board of trustees of each independent school district is required to ensure that a district improvement plan and improvement plans for each campus are developed, reviewed and revised annually for the purpose of improving the performance of all students. The board annually approves district and campus performance objectives and ensures that the district and campus plans are mutually supportive to accomplish the identified objectives (at a minimum, to support the state goals and objectives), including staff development for professional staff. Each school year, the principal of each school campus, with the assistance of the campus-level site-based decision making committee, develops, reviews and revises the campus improvement plan.

In addition, Texas pointed out that the evaluation instrument is used as the basis for determining an individual staff development plan for each instructor on the campus. The state noted that the "professional development imperative Continuum for Quality Professional Development identifies indicators for results-driven learning (schools improve the learning of all students through well-designed professional development, using best practice research, disaggregated data, campus/district goals, and parent/community input); student-center learning (educators pursue and select learning opportunities that meet the identified needs of students), flexible groups (Optimum learning and implementation occur in small, interactive groups, with group size determined by content and purpose); Collaboration (Educators, working collaboratively and with parent and community, make decisions about the objectives, content, and processes that meet their professional development needs); Follow-up (Professional development requires follow-up to sustain and evaluate learning over time); Commitment (Educators take responsibility for their own learning, and organizations provide resources that support learning)."

Last word

As discussed in the analysis, Texas has strong policy that links its professional development activities to teachers' evaluations. To further strengthen this policy, the state is encouraged to clarify for districts that evaluations should inform professional development activities for all teachers, not just those in need of assistance. The current regulatory language and Professional Development and Appraisal System do not make this clear.

How we graded

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.  

Research rationale

For evidence of the benefits of feedback from evaluation systems, and the potential for professional development surrounding that feedback, 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).

Much professional development, particularly those that are not aligned to specific feedback from teacher evaluations, has been found to be ineffective.  For evidence see M. Garet, "Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study: Findings After the Second Year of Implementation." Institute of Education Sciences (2011).

For additional evidence regarding best practices for professional development, see "The Deliver, Financing, and Assessment of Professional Development in Education: Pre-Service Preparation and In-Service Training." The Finance Project (2003).