Upon the urging of TCTA and other stakeholders, TEA announced July 23 that it will seek an additional pilot year to allow for “refinement” of the proposed new teacher evaluation system, effectively pushing full implementation back one year.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams asked for an extension of Texas’ NCLB waiver — the waiver he accepted under the condition that Texas develop a new system that ties student growth on state standardized tests to teacher evaluation.

The letter also notified Duncan that Texas would add a year to the pilot program for the evaluation systems. That would mean they would be piloted in certain school districts and charter schools in both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, with full implementation set for 2016-17.

TCTA urged delay of new system

TCTA welcomed the news from TEA after having repeatedly urged both the commissioner and the Legislature to take such action.

TCTA’s May 2014 testimony before the Texas House Public Education Committee included a list of reasons that the new system is problematic and likely to be challenged. Included on that list was the unrealistic timeline for implementation.

TCTA noted in that testimony that, even though the new system was originally scheduled to be fully implemented in 2015-16, TEA had acknowledged that the value-added data for the pilot schools would not be available until September 2015.

“This not only puts legislators in the position of having to consider a change to state law before they see final pilot data, but it also makes it impossible to analyze the pilot data problems with the proposed teacher evaluation system and make needed changes to the system before full statewide implementation is set to begin,” said TCTA’s Holly Eaton, who gave the testimony.

Eaton called on legislators to delay making changes to state law that are needed to implement the new system and to send TEA back to the negotiating table with USDE to gain more flexibility in the teacher evaluation requirements like other states have done.