As the school year begins, administrators and teachers should begin engaging in the teacher appraisal process to ensure effective teaching is happening in the classroom from day one and beyond.
The teacher appraisal process is one of the most valuable tools administrators can use to evaluate teacher performance over time. It is a tool to help initiate conversations, observe teacher behaviors, and provide feedback for improvement. When schools implement a strong teacher appraisal process, the impact is better teaching, and ultimately, greater student achievement.
Teacher appraisal process
In Texas, school entities are required to implement T-TESS or a locally adopted system for teacher appraisals. These systems have a specific framework and timelines that adhere to the rules and guidelines set forth for teacher appraisals.
Because many schools across the state use T-TESS, the framework below will reflect T-TESS requirements. However, school entities who choose to use a locally adopted appraisal system should ensure all schools are following requirements and timelines set locally.
Reminders for T-TESS include the following:
- Orientation: School entities must provide orientation no later than the final day of the first three weeks of school and at least two weeks before the first observation when the teacher is new to the district. Orientation must also occur for teachers who have never been appraised under T-TESS or when district policy has changed since the last time the teacher attended orientation. For returning teachers, best practice is to review T-TESS procedures and timelines at the beginning of the school year to ensure all teachers are aware of requirements of the appraisal process.
- Goal setting: Submission of the goal setting and professional development plan (GSPD) must occur within the first six weeks of instruction of the new school year. Returning teachers should have established the GSPD in the prior year summative conference, but they may make changes and submit within the first six weeks of the new year. For teachers new to the district, the GSPD must be submitted within the six weeks after T-TESS orientation.
- Observations: Observations with meaningful feedback should occur frequently for all teachers throughout the school year. All observations require a written summary, and formal or scored observations require both pre- and post-conferences with the teacher.
- Non-scored walk-throughs or “coaching” observations: Formative observations should be ongoing throughout the year. Appraisers should observe all teachers as soon as possible with the intention of giving feedback and support where needed. Appraisers may want to conduct focused observations that cover one domain, (i.e., learning environment) or they may want to increase the frequency of observations for new teachers or teachers who are considered low performing in the classroom.
- Formal or “scored” observations: Formal or scored observations require more planning and intention from the appraiser and teacher. These observations should be conducted when the teacher has established the learning environment and is consistently providing instruction to students. The purpose of these observations is to collect evidence to evaluate and inform teacher performance.
- End-of-year conferences: The end-of-year conference provides an opportunity for the appraiser and the teacher to summarize observations, formalize evidence, and discuss next year’s GSPD. The conference must be held in person and a written summary provided to the teacher no later than 15 working days prior to the final day of instruction. Many districts add extra days to their appraisal calendar to ensure ample time is provided for the appraiser to complete the conference and annual report, and for the teacher to have adequate time to respond, if needed.
The appraisal framework and timelines are vital to implementing the process with fidelity. School entities should implement the appraisal process annually in alignment with 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 150 and locally developed polices. The goal should be to support teachers, help them grow professionally, and ensure effective teaching is occurring in all classrooms.
Teacher response and rebuttal
The T-TESS appraisal process provides teachers the opportunity for response or rebuttal if the teacher disagrees with the written observation summary or written summative report. The teacher may submit a written response or rebuttal for Domains I, II, and III, after receiving a written observation summary or any other written documentation related to these domain ratings. For Domain IV, the teacher may submit a written response or rebuttal after receiving the summative annual appraisal report following the end-of-year conference.
The written response or rebuttal to an observation summary or summative annual appraisal report must be submitted within 10 working days of receiving the report, and any written response must be related to the current summary or appraisal report and cannot address documentation provided at an earlier instance in the school year.
The second appraisal
The T-TESS appraisal process also provides teachers with the opportunity to request a second appraisal by another certified appraiser. Teachers may request a second appraisal at the following times:
- The teacher disagrees with the written observation summary for Domains I, II, and III, as identified in TAC §150.1002(a) of the Commissioner’s Rules Concerning Educator Appraisal; or
- The teacher disagrees with the written summative annual appraisal report for Domain IV, and for the performance of teachers’ students, as defined in TAC §150.1001(f)(2) of Commissioner’s Rules Concerning Educator Appraisal.
The teacher must request the second appraisal within 10 working days of receiving a written observation summary or the written summative annual appraisal report. A teacher may not request a second appraisal by another certified appraiser in response to a written summative annual appraisal report for the ratings of dimensions in Domains I, II, and III, if those ratings are based entirely on observation summaries or written documentation already received by the teacher earlier in the year for which the teacher already had the opportunity to request a second appraisal.
If a second appraisal is granted, the teacher may be given advanced notice of the date and time of the second appraisal. However, advanced notice is not required. Appraisers should refer to local board policy or district procedures to determine the observation window timing. The process for determining the second appraiser should be adopted by the school entity and teachers should be informed of the process at the time of hire, during the annual review, and as needed.
School entities may determine locally how the second appraisal is used in the overall scoring for the teacher. The second appraiser shall make observations and walk-throughs as necessary to evaluate the dimensions in Domains I through III, or the appraiser shall review the GSPD plan for evidence of goal attainment and professional development activities, when applicable. Cumulative data may also be used by the appraiser to evaluate other dimensions.
Additional thoughts and resources
The teacher appraisal process is designed to provide continuous improvement to help teachers hold themselves to a higher standard for individual development and performance. It is a systematic way for teachers to engage with other educational professionals to target professional learning opportunities, seek feedback, and refine practices and skills. When teachers and appraisers work together in the evaluation process, teachers grow, and their efforts benefit all students.
For additional T-TESS guidance and information, visit teachfortexas.org.
Jennifer Barton is an HR and compensation consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Jennifer an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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