February 2015

HR Extras

DOE rejects Texas’ teacher and principal evaluations

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) recently notified Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams that its new teacher and principal evaluations and support systems don’t yet meet Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver requirements.
 
The DOE is asking for more information based the concerns raised by expert peers who reviewed the systems, for example:
  • How Texas will ensure that student growth measures are “a meaningful part” of evaluations and an explanation of the state’s student growth measure.
  • How the evaluation system will provide educators with clear, timely, and useful feedback that guides professional development.
  • An explanation of state’s requirements to incorporate student growth measures in nontested grades and subjects.
  • How the state plans to ensure that educators are evaluated on a regular basis.
  • How evaluation results and feedback from the process will inform personnel decisions.
  • How the state will ensure that all districts use educator evaluation systems that meet ESEA waiver guidelines.
Williams has told federal officials that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will not exceed its current authority or issue state mandates to local schools and that the state is committed to local control in public education.
 
Williams will seek input from state leaders and education stakeholders to determine a course of action on the state’s waiver. The new evaluation systems are set to launch in 2016‒17.

A teacher’s salary path is more important than starting or maximum salary

The new National Center for Teacher Quality (NCTQ) report Smart Money compares teacher salaries at large districts nationwide over time. Nine Texas districts were represented in the study of 113 districts, which include the 50 largest in the U.S. and the largest in each state.
 
After adjusting for the cost of living in participating districts, the average maximum salary for a 30-year teacher was $71,000. For each district, the report provided details about the number of years of experience required for a teacher to get to a 2013‒14 salary of $71,000; and the impact that has on a teacher’s lifetime earnings.
 
A high starting salary often masks a slow path to the maximum. Do teachers reach the maximum just before they retire? Or do they reach it within 20 years and receive modest increases as the maximum moves upward?
 
Accelerating teachers to $71,000 salaries earlier in their careers is certainly possible. Twenty-two districts had teachers reach that salary by their 15th year, and 18 of those had starting salaries below $45,000.
 
These different trajectories have tangible impacts on teachers’ lives, according to the report. Teachers wrestle with whether they can afford to buy a house or take a vacation or whether they need a second job or partner’s income to make ends meet. If they believe their pay is lagging, they might question whether they should consider a different career.
 
Of the Texas districts included, Northside ISD teachers fared best. They reached $71,000 in 26 years. In Dallas ISD, it was 27 years, Fort Worth ISD was 30, and for the other six Texas districts, it took more than 30 years to reach that milestone. The estimate of lifetime earnings for a teacher in Northside ISD was $360,000 more than in Austin ISD.
 
(Editor’s note: All dollar values in the report were adjusted for cost of living.)  

Updated Student Performance Domain Worksheet available

The Commissioner of Education has updated the Student Performance Domain Worksheet that boards use as part of their superintendent appraisal process.

By reviewing the data on the completed form, boards can see which areas of student performance are improving and declining and use that information to focus their discussions with their superintendent.