On June 19, 2014, TEA announced final adoption of new foundational teacher performance standards to which existing standards for teacher appraisal, certification, professional development and induction/mentoring will be aligned. These new standards also were used to inform the development of a draft observation instrument as part of the new state teacher appraisal process that the Texas commissioner of education committed to implementing as part of the Texas NCLB waiver agreement.

The new foundational standards were developed in fall 2013 by the Texas Teacher Steering Committee, comprised primarily of Texas regional teachers of the year, as well as some administrators, higher education representatives, and a TCTA representative. The standards were posted for public comment in December 2013.

The standards cover six broad categories, including:

  1. instructional planning and delivery
  2. knowledge of students and student learning
  3. content knowledge and expertise
  4. learning environment
  5. data-driven practice
  6. professional practices and responsibilities

TCTA was successful in making several improvements to the standards through our involvement on the steering committee as well as by submitting extensive comments on the proposed standards.

TCTA-initiated improvements to the standards

Among the improvements made to the standards were:

  • inclusion of the concept of teachers self-identifying their professional learning needs;
  • elimination of incomprehensible terminology such as “social-emotional success”;
  • elimination of unnecessarily restrictive terminology, like “lesson plans” in favor of broader terms, like “lessons”;
  • inclusion of the concepts of students being self-motivated and taking responsibility for their own learning; and
  • broadening of terminology beyond test data to include multiple sources of data as well as informal and formal methods of assessing student growth.

TCTA's remaining concerns about the standards

Although TCTA was able to improve the standards, we still have some concerns about them.

First, the Professional Practices and Responsibilities standards do not contain several key concepts that TCTA views as central to considering teachers as professionals, including teachers exercising professional judgment in diagnosing and identifying resources to meet student needs, and teachers advancing the profession through involvement in professional organizations and collaboration with others in the profession. Additionally, the standards contain language that could potentially run afoul of state law restrictions on paperwork for teachers.