TEA submitted final guidelines for new teacher and principal evaluation systems to the U.S. Department of Education May 2, 2014, per the deadline specified in the NCLB waiver agreement that Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams negotiated with the USDE in fall 2013. 

Although TCTA participated in the Teacher Steering Committee that TEA formed to give input on the development of statewide teaching standards as well as the new teacher evaluation system, TCTA strongly opposed the USDE’s heavy-handed dictates that the evaluation guidelines include student performance on state standardized tests as the measure to evaluate teachers, rather than allowing local districts to decide, and that student growth be determined at the individual teacher level rather than at the group or campus level.

Because the USDE insists that teachers be evaluated based on student growth on state tests, the proposed teacher evaluation system, which is a condition of Texas keeping its NCLB waiver, is highly problematic for many reasons and likely to be challenged.

Evaluation system components and their assigned weights

Observation will count for 80 percent of the total evaluation score (a new observation instrument is being developed). Ten percent of the observation component will be a teacher self-assessment (composed of two of the four indicators in the Professional Practices domain of the new observation instrument).

Student growth will count for the remaining 20 percent of the evaluation score.

For teachers of STAAR-tested subjects, student growth will be determined via a value-added calculation based on predicted student growth as measured by state assessments. TEA is contracting with the SAS Institute to develop a value-added metric for these teachers; the data will be provided to all school districts.

For teachers of subjects not tested by STAAR, districts may use any of the following locally developed measures: student learning objectives, portfolios, and/or district pre-and-post tests. Districts can use any of these three options provided that the measure for a particular grade and subject is uniform throughout the district.

Scoring

Scoring will be based on an ordinal system rather than a point system (e.g., performance categories such as Distinguished, Accomplished and Proficient). An ordinal system allows for rank order (first, second, third, etc.) by which data can be sorted, but does not allow for relative degree of difference between them.

A matrix approach will combine an individual teacher's observation/self-assessment scores and student growth scores to determine a summative overall score.

A teacher whose students score between one standard error above and one standard error below expected growth will receive a value-added rating of “at expectations.”

System rollout

TEA will pilot both the teacher and principal evaluation systems in certain school districts in 2014-15, and in July 2014, requested an additional pilot year during 2015-16, delaying full implementation until 2016-17. Value-added data will not be used in at least the first pilot year as it won't be available until September 2015.

Once pilot program feedback has been collected and analyzed, TEA will revise administrative code rules related to teacher evaluations.

TEA has announced that it will continue to work with both the teacher and principal steering committees during the rule-revision process. TEA also says it will convene multiple stakeholder events to gather feedback on the rules revision and creation process.

Training

TEA's original plans were to oversee a train-the-trainer model beginning in early winter 2015.

Local plan requirements

Districts must report the evaluation systems they use and the components of those systems (if not the state system) to Region XIII.

TEA will conduct annual spot monitoring of districts in each region to evaluate implementation and adherence to evaluation requirements.

Note: TEA has confirmed that districts using local plans will still have to use the value-added measure for 20 percent of the evaluations of individual teachers of certain STAAR-tested subjects.

See also:

Problems with Texas' potential new teacher evaluation system

Evolution of the proposed teacher evaluation system

What's next for the proposed evaluation system as 2014-15 kicks off?