TCTA President Donna Corbin was in Austin recently for the first meeting of a Texas Education Agency stakeholder group created to give input on state guidance regarding local implementation of federally required teacher equity plans.

Due to the requirement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act that each state's Title I plan must describe “the specific steps that the state education agency will take to ensure that poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers and the measures that the state education agency will use to evaluate and publicly report the progress,” TEA formed a stakeholder group, upon which TCTA served, to develop its State Educator Equity Plan. Texas submitted its plan to the U.S. Department of Education in August 2015, and USDE approved the plan in December 2015.  

When Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in late 2015, adopting the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to replace  NCLB, this same provision was maintained, except for the substitution of the word "ineffective" for "unqualified."  

One key issue addressed in the Texas Educator Equity Plan was the lack of state level data regarding "excellent educators." According to the plan, "... data defining and measuring teacher excellence and performance are more abundant and more readily accessible at the local level than at the state level. Some of the most accurate and precise measures of an excellent teacher result from data, collected and analyzed by trained appraisers, based on observations of the teacher’s instructional practices and engagement with students. Such teacher appraisal data is available in Texas only at the local level and is not made available to the state. Moreover, much of the decision-making that affects teaching assignment, teacher distribution, and support of teachers is under the authority of local decision-makers."

Accordingly, one of the chief strategies outlined in the state's Educator Equity Plan is to "develop guidance and tools for districts to create and implement local equity plans." In proceeding forward with this strategy, TEA recently convened the stakeholder group, upon which Corbin serves, to give input on the development of state guidance to and tools for local districts in creating and implementing their local equity plans. In introducing stakeholders to the topic at the July 2016 meeting, TEA identified as a key guiding principal that local development and implementation of local educator equity plans is a valuable process that integrates with local district's existing initiatives, procedures and programs (such as teacher recruitment, development and retention initiatives).

For purposes of local documentation of data regarding how its inexperienced, out-of-field and ineffective teachers are distributed among poor and minority students in local plans, presenters emphasized that local districts can, and should, supplement that data with other data regarding educator effectiveness. In discussion about what kinds of supplementary data local districts have access to that demonstrates or impacts educator effectiveness, stakeholders identified several examples, including qualitative/quantitative data about school and district leadership, student demographics, student and staff feedback on the quality of the learning/teaching environment, location of school/proximity to urban areas and higher education institutions, academic data, and school funding.

The group also reviewed and gave feedback on several different existing sample toolkits that local districts could use to work through the process of developing and implementing their local Educator Equity plans. The group is scheduled to meet several more times to give further input on the development of the state Equity Plan Toolkit for local school districts. The plan is for the final toolkit and training plans for local districts to be published on the TEA website in early 2017, along with training for local districts via a train-the-trainer model.