This article appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of The Classroom Teacher and was compiled from Texas Education Agency.

What is T-TESS?

The Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System is a new teacher evaluation system designed to support teachers in their professional development and help them grow and improve as educators. It was piloted by about 60 districts in the 2014-2015 school year, and implemented as a refined system in the 2015-2016 school year in approximately 250 districts, and is scheduled to be rolled out statewide in the 2016-2017 year, although the student growth component will be delayed until the 2017-2018 school year. 

What are the components of T-TESS evaluation?

T-TESS has three measures of teacher effectiveness:

  • Observation
  • Goal-Setting and Professional Development
  • Student Growth

How was T-TESS developed?

As a first step, TEA convened a state-level Teacher Standards Steering committee, on which TCTA participated, to inform development of the new system. Because, at the time, Texas’s NCLB waiver required a teacher evaluation system with student growth for individual teachers counting 20 percent, including student growth on state standardized tests for teachers of tested subjects, TCTA strongly objected to this component of the new system, but worked to help inform development of other allowable measures of student growth, including student learning objectives, as well as the observation instrument to be used in the new system. Now that Texas’s NCLB waiver is defunct, T-TESS does not require, but allows student growth on state standardized tests as one of four measures of student growth of individual teachers. 

Why is PDAS being replaced?

PDAS was implemented in 1997 and several factors converged to put the move to replace it in motion. First, although one of the chief purposes of the system was to influence the professional development of teachers, one of the criticisms of PDAS was that there was very little emphasis on this aspect, and very little linkage between the appraisal results and subsequent professional development activities. Additionally, the federal NCLB (prior to its repeal) waiver required a student growth component to teacher evaluation. Finally, Texas developed a set of teaching standards to reflect more current teaching practices, which in turn prompted updating and aligning standards related to teacher preparation, certification and appraisal. 

What are the components of the T-TESS observation rubric?

The rubric has four domains:

  • Planning
  • Instruction
  • Learning Environment
  • Professional Practice and Responsibilities

There are 16 total dimensions within those four domains, five in Instruction, four in both Planning and Professional Practice and Responsibilities, and three in Learning Environment.