Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Texas

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should articulate consequences for teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations, including specifying that teachers with multiple unsatisfactory evaluations should be eligible for dismissal.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Unsatisfactory Evaluations: Texas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/TX-Unsatisfactory-Evaluations-10

Analysis of Texas's policies

Texas requires that teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations be placed on "intervention" plans. If, once the plan is completed, the teacher continues to perform unsatisfactorily, then the teacher is "considered for separation from the assignment, campus, and/or district."

Unfortunately, Texas' effort to make unsatisfactory evaluations grounds for separation from the district does not carry over to the state's dismissal policy (see Goal 5-C).

Citation

Recommendations for Texas

Make eligibility for dismissal a consequence of unsatisfactory evaluations.
Texas is commended for requiring that all teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations are placed on improvement plans. However, it is unclear as to whether the state's policy of "separation" for failing to meet the requirements of the improvement plan translates to dismissal. The state could strengthen its policy by making teachers who receive two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations or have two unsatisfactory evaluations within five years formally eligible for dismissal.

State response to our analysis

Texas asserted that "separation" under 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) 150.1004 is the equivalent of dismissal or termination. The state added that a teacher who receives an unsatisfactory appraisal must be placed on an intervention plan that includes a specific timeline for successful completion. A teacher who does not meet the requirements of the intervention plan is formally eligible for termination or nonrenewal.

Last word

The state is encouraged to clarify its regulatory language so as not to leave districts with any ambiguity concerning the consequences for unsatisfactory evaluations. The current flexibility that the policy affords could result in teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations being "separated" from their assignment or school, meaning that they are moved around rather than dismissed, putting students at risk.

How we graded

Negative evaluations should have meaningful consequences.

Teacher evaluations are too often treated as mere formalities rather than as important tools for rewarding good teachers, helping average teachers to 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. Accordingly, states should articulate the consequences of negative evaluations. First, teachers that receive a negative evaluation should be placed on improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should list noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies and describe how progress will be measured. While teachers that receive negative evaluations should receive support and additional training, opportunities to improve should not be unlimited. States should articulate policies wherein two negative evaluations within five years are sufficient justification for dismissal.

Employment status should not determine the consequences of a negative evaluation.

Differentiating consequences of a negative evaluation based on whether a teacher has probationary or nonprobationary status puts the interests of adults before those of students. Ideally, weaknesses and deficiencies would be identified and corrected during the probationary period; if the deficiencies were found to be insurmountable, the teacher would not be awarded permanent status. However, in the absence of meaningful tenure processes based on teacher effectiveness, limiting significant consequences to the probationary period is insufficient. Any teacher who receives a negative evaluation, regardless of employment status, should be placed on an improvement plan, and any teacher who receives multiple negative evaluations, regardless of employment status, should be eligible for dismissal.

Research rationale

To review the process and types of personnel evaluations observed in other job sectors, including the problems inherent to some evaluation systems see, for example, Gliddon, David (October 2004). Effective Performance Management Systems, Current Criticisms and New Ideas for Employee Evaluation in Performance Improvement 43(9), 27-36.