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. 


In another change from PDAS, which only had four performance levels, the rules provide for five performance levels under T-TESS: distinguished; accomplished; proficient; developing; and improvement needed. TEA has emphasized in T-TESS training and in other forums that because there are five performance levels, they reflect a broader range of abilities than under PDAS (particularly by providing two performance categories above “Proficient”, so, accordingly, the level of performance that would earn a rating of “Exceeds Expectations” under PDAS will now earn a rating of “Proficient.”

Appraiser Qualifications

Despite protests from TCTA and others, the rules greatly expand who can serve as an appraiser. Unlike PDAS, which restricted the categories of personnel who could serve as appraisers to campus administrators, the rules provide that “supervisory staff whose job description includes the appraisal of teachers and who is not a classroom teacher” and who are certified and have received training, can serve as certified appraisers.  TCTA objected, pointing out that not only does the rules greatly expand who can serve as certified appraisers, but it doesn’t include the requirement that PDAS requires, which is that anyone appraising teachers must be approved by the board of trustees.

Additionally, TCTA pointed out that, given the fact that T-TESS contemplates more observations of teachers than under PDAS, which in turn may necessitate additional personnel to conduct the observations, the rules should require that anyone conducting observations must be trained and certified prior to doing so. However, TEA did not end up including this requirement in the rules.

As under PDAS, the rules continue to allow classroom teachers to serve as certified appraisers but only allows them to do so on the same school campus at which they teach if they are the chair of a department or grade level whose job description includes classroom observation responsibilities.

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