March 2016

Q&A: Timing of conference under T-TESS

Q. Under the new T-TESS appraisal system, does the end-of-year conference have to be completed before we can recommend nonrenewal of a teacher's contract to the Board of Trustees?
A. Not necessarily. District administrators typically begin their internal discussions about contract renewal in February. There are no statutes or regulations that would require the end-of-year T-TESS conference to be completed before a recommendation for contract nonrenewal is made. The relevant statutes simply require the Board to consider the most recent evaluations if the evaluations are relevant to the reason for term contract nonrenewal, and to use consecutive appraisals from more than one year, if available, in making any contract employment decisions. TEC 21.203(a) and 21.352(e)

For probationary contracts, no stated reason is required for termination at the end of a school year. For term contracts, most district local policies (see DFBB) identify up to 37 different reasons for nonrenewal of a teacher’s contract and require that administrative recommendations for nonrenewal be supported by any relevant documentation. Thus, the evidence needed depends on the reason for recommending nonrenewal.

There are four domains on the T-TESS rubric and the first three are based on observations and data collected throughout the school year. If the reason for nonrenewal was poor teaching practice, the first three domains should provide evidence of such. Appraisers would be wise to focus their time and attention on suspect performers sooner in the school year than later. Domain Four is evaluated during the end-of-year conference and focuses on a teacher’s professional practices and responsibilities and, beginning in 2017–18, student growth outcomes. The formal observations preceding this conference, walkthroughs, and other evidence of teaching practice should be able to support a nonrenewal recommendation due to poor classroom teaching skills.