T-TESS and Appraisal Frequency

January 07, 2019 • Karen Dooley


Q: Did the implementation of Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) impact the frequency of teacher appraisals?

New research shows there hasn’t been a dramatic shift in district practices.

Many districts offered a less-than-annual appraisal for teachers prior to the implementation of the T-TESS. Continuing this practice was a huge debate during the T-TESS transition because of the shift to a coaching appraisal model.

What is the rule?

Texas Education Code § 21.352 (c) allows districts to appraise a teacher less frequently if the teacher agrees in writing and the teacher’s most recent evaluation rated the teacher as at least proficient, or the equivalent, and didn’t identify any area of deficiency. A teacher appraised less frequently than annually must be appraised at least once during each period of five school years.

What is the district policy on frequency of appraisals?

Policy DNA (LOCAL) determines the appraisal system (T-TESS or locally designed) and the frequency. A review of district policies after the implementation of T-TESS revealed the following:

  • Three hundred-thirty-seven districts were using the T-TESS annually for all teachers.
  • Fourteen districts were using a local appraisal process annually for all teachers.
  • Five districts were using either a T-TESS or local appraisal process with annual frequency.
  • Five hundred-eighty-seven districts didn’t use any of the previous three options with most having provisions for less-than-annual appraisals.

Interpreting the results

The results of the policy review show the transition of T-TESS didn’t have a huge impact on the use of less-than-annual appraisals. Informal discussions with school district administrators, including a Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) 2017 summer conference break-out session, supports these same findings.

Many school districts may have chosen to use the first year of T-TESS implementation to set goals and establish appraisal benchmarks by appraising all staff. Afterwards, the common practice was to return to the less-than-annual cycle.

Karen Dooley is a senior HR specialist at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at karen.dooley@tasb.org.

Tagged: "Employee performance", T-TESS