Prompted by a May 3, 2017, settlement of lawsuits filed by TCTA and two other statewide teacher groups over teacher appraisal requirements, TEA agreed to eliminate from its teacher appraisal rules the requirement to use one or more of the specified student growth measures in individual teacher appraisals, for both the state-recommended and locally developed appraisal systems. 

However, “how the individual teacher’s students progress academically in response to the teacher’s pedagogical practice as measured at the individual teacher level by one or more student growth measures” must still be included in teacher appraisals.

In recent TEA-issued Guidance on Student Growth in T-TESS, Education Commissioner Mike Morath reaffirmed a January decision to allow school districts to seek a waiver from implementing student growth in teacher appraisals for the 2017-18 school year as long as they submit their waiver request to TEA prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year and agree to pilot student growth in some capacity during that school year.

In January, TEA teacher appraisal rules required that districts using the state-recommended teacher appraisal system (T-TESS) or locally developed/adopted teacher appraisal systems must include the academic progress of individual teacher’s students as measured by one or more of the following student growth measures:

  • student learning objectives;
student portfolios;
pre- and post-test results on district-level assessments; or

  • value-added data based on student state assessment results.

But the lawsuit settlement will give school districts much greater flexibility in how to measure and weight student performance data in teacher appraisals as well as removing any reference to “value-added data” in both the commissioner-recommended appraisal system (T-TESS) and in locally-adopted appraisal systems. TEA notes this change in its recent guidance on T-TESS.

Other items of interest in the guidance include provisions regarding appraisal ratings. “Districts can keep the ratings disaggregated and provide individual ratings for teachers for each of the 16 dimensions on the T-TESS rubric. For districts that adopt this method for summative ratings, student growth acts like the 17th dimension and is not weighted, as weighting does not apply to disaggregated ratings. For T-TESS districts that decide to provide teachers a single overall summative rating, student growth must count at least 20 percent of the overall summative rating. In that sense, student growth acts like the fifth domain, with the four rubric domains accounting for the other 80 percent of the teacher’s overall summative rating.”

Regarding districts that decide to use Student Learning Objectives as a student growth measure, the TEA guidance states: “As expressed in the state’s SLO training, SLOs are:

  • A means to teacher growth (reflect, assess, adjust, and develop over time)
  • A concentrated look at instructional impact through the lens of the most important skill(s)
  • A part of a teacher’s own cycle of development (results could feed in to Goal Setting and Professional Development plans)
  • Evidence-based

SLOs are not:

  • A second grade book
  • Mathematical or mathematically precise
  • Focused on traditional testing
  • Standardized across a campus or district (as in, all students must reach a predetermined level or all teachers will focus on reading)
  • The place to supersede teacher development needs with campus or district improvement plan needs

Districts can follow or adopt any SLO model that best fits their needs. The state’s SLO process has been designed to align with T-TESS, but it is not the required or only SLO model.” For more information on the state’s SLO process, click here.

The guidance also contains provisions regarding other student growth measures. Click here to find out more.