On April 13, 2016, TEA issued finally adopted rules for its new state-recommended teacher appraisal system, the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS), which goes into effect with the start of the 2016-2017 school year. 

Observations

Rubric
The rules require each teacher shall be appraised on the following domains and dimensions:

(1) Domain I. Planning, which includes the following dimensions:

(A) standards and alignment;
(B) data and assessment;
(C) knowledge of students; and
(D) activities.

(2) Domain II. Instruction, which includes the following dimensions:

(A) achieving expectations;
(B) content knowledge and expertise;
(C) communication;
(D) differentiation; and
(E) monitor and adjust.

(3) Domain III. Learning Environment, which includes the following dimensions:

(A) classroom environment, routines, and procedures;
(B) managing student behavior; and
(C) classroom culture.

(4) Domain IV. Professional Practices and Responsibilities, which includes the following dimensions:

(A) professional demeanor and ethics;
(B) goal setting;
(C) professional development; and
(D) school community involvement.

The rules also provide that the evaluation of each of the dimensions shall consider all data generated in the appraisal process. The data for the appraisal of each dimension shall be gathered from pre-conferences, observations, post-conferences, end-of-year conferences, the Goal Setting and Professional Development Plan process, and other documented sources.

The rules require that teachers receive at least one classroom observation of a minimum of 45 minutes but that by written, mutual consent of the teacher and the certified appraiser, the required minimum of 45 minutes of observation may be conducted in shorter time segments. The time segments must aggregate to at least 45 minutes.

Frequency of and timelines for observations

In a change from PDAS, and in response to a request from TCTA, the rules provide that each school district provide teachers with a calendar for appraisals within three weeks from the first day of instruction. However, in another change from PDAS, the rules aren’t as restrictive as to when appraisals can occur, providing that the appraisal period for each teacher must include all of the days of a teacher's contract; that observations during the appraisal period must be conducted during the required days of instruction for students during one school year, and that the appraisal calendar shall only exclude observations in the two weeks following the day of completion of the T-TESS orientation in the school years when an orientation is required.

The rules require annual appraisals for all teachers, except that a teacher may receive a full appraisal less frequently if the teacher agrees in writing and the teacher's most recent full appraisal resulted in  summative ratings of at least proficient on nine of the 16 dimensions and did not identify any area of deficiency, defined as a rating of Improvement Needed or its equivalent, on any of the 16 dimensions or the performance of teachers' students. This is more restrictive than under PDAS, in which a teacher can receive less than annual appraisals if a teacher is rated as at least proficient in each of the eight domains. (Note: although the rules as proposed required that teacher be evaluated annually under locally-developed and adopted appraisal systems, in response to TCTA’s comments that the commissioner could not legally require this of local appraisal systems, TEA changed the rule to allow for less than annual appraisals in local systems under the same circumstances as under the state-recommended system mentioned above).

Also, in a new requirement, the rules provide that for those teachers not receiving an appraisal in a given year, the teacher shall participate in the Goal-Setting and Professional Development Plan process, the performance of teachers' students, and a modified end-of-year conference that addresses the progress on the Goal-Setting and Professional Development Plan; the performance of teachers' students; and the following year's Goal-Setting and Professional Development plan.

Click the links below for a look at other key aspects of the final rules for teacher appraisal systems: