Evaluations & T-TESS

Text says, "Know Your Rights, Evaluations and T-TESS."

There are lots of questions about educator evaluations and T-TESS. This collection of resources and trainings attempts to answer the biggest questions.

What is T-TESS?

T-TESS (the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System) is intended to capture the holistic nature of teaching by offering a constant feedback loop between teachers and students. Each domain focuses on both teachers and students, rather than separating them. The goal of T-TESS is to help teachers develop habits based on this constant feedback loop. You should be engaged in an ongoing dialogue and collaboration with appraisers.

T-TESS includes three components:

  • Goal-Setting and Professional Development Plan (GSPD)
  • The Evaluation Cycle (pre-conference, observation, post-conference)
  • Student Growth Measure

What is the Goal-Setting and Professional Development Plan?

As an educator, you will conduct a self-assessment to draft goals and a professional development plan. This process is intended to help you:

  • reflect on your current professional practices
  • identify your professional growth goals
  • build your professional development plan to attain those goals
  • track your progress toward your goals over the course of the year

What You Need to Do

Prior to your end-of-year conference or at the beginning of the school year, if you’re new to the district or campus, independently review data and reflect on your professional practice, including reviewing the domains, dimensions, and descriptors of the T-TESS rubric. You will formulate targeted goals on the Teacher Self-Assessment and Goal Setting Form. Then, we recommend you schedule an in-person Goal Setting Conference with your appraiser.

By the third week of school, discuss your vision for professional growth with your appraiser in the Goal Setting Conference. Specify the kinds of support you want your appraiser to provide in order to help you meet your goals. Identify milestones that will help you and your appraiser know you’re on track toward your goals. Specify the evidence that will show you have met your goals. At the end of the Goal Setting Conference, you and your appraiser should agree upon and sign off on your goals.

During the year, regularly monitor your progress toward your goals. Discuss your progress toward your goals with your appraiser and modify your goals if necessary. Ask for and obtain additional supports from your appraiser if needed.

At the end of the year, discuss your progress with your appraiser. Celebrate your growth! Record your lessons learned. After the end-of-year conference, your appraiser will include your self-assessment as 10% of the overall T-TESS rating. The Teacher Self-Assessment and Goal Setting Form helps you document your goals and professional development as evidence of your success.

FAQs About the T-TESS Process

When can a growth plan be instituted?

A growth plan can be issued to a teacher any time an administrator determines a need for improvement. The rules regarding T-TESS do not specify when a growth plan should be implemented. We would hope that before an administrator puts a teacher on a growth plan, there would have been conferences and written documentation showing concern with the teacher’s performance. (Note: This would be a good practice, but it is not required.) If a teacher fails to comply with a growth plan, that refusal could be grounds for non-renewal.

Can you ask for a postponement of your T-TESS observation?

Yes, you can ask for a postponement, but if the appraiser doesn’t feel it’s necessary to postpone, then the evaluation may proceed as planned.

Can medical absences count against you on your T-TESS evaluation?

Yes, your medical absences may count against you, but only if district policy applies: “An employee found to have abused the leave policies shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”

Are there restrictions on when a formal observation can be scheduled?

Your district must establish a calendar for teacher appraisals and provide that calendar to teachers within three weeks from the first day of instruction. The appraisal period for each teacher must include all the days of the teacher’s contract.

Observations during the appraisal period must be conducted during the required days of instruction for students during one school year.

Additionally, the appraisal calendar will:

  • Exclude observations in the first two weeks of school and the two weeks after the day of completion of the T-TESS orientation for new teachers in the school years when an orientation is required.
  • Indicate a period for end-of-year conferences that ends no later than 15 working days before the last day of instruction.

I don’t think my observation or evaluation was fair. What can I do?

You have a couple of different options. You have a right to respond in writing to any documentation that you receive. Your written response must be given to the appraiser within 10 working days of receiving the initial documentation.

Additionally, you can submit a written response to the Observation Summary you receive and/or the Summative Annual Report at the end of the year. You can request a second appraisal from another appraiser within 10 working days of receiving your Observation Summary. The second appraiser will conduct another formal observation and conduct necessary walk-throughs in order to properly score Domains I, II, and III. Note: After receiving your end-of-year Summative Annual Report, you can request a second appraisal for Domain IV only.

I had one bad evaluation. Can administrators ask me to resign or decide not to renew my contract?

The decision to non-renew a term contract employee comes with the right to appeal the decision. To find the criteria for deciding to non-renew a term contract, go to your district policy. If you’re on a probationary contract, you do not have the right to appeal the decision. It’s recommended you resign rather than be non-renewed.

Additional Resources

Texas Education Agency T-TESS Website

For the most up-to-date information on teacher evaluations, use these resources from TEA:

Texas AFT T-TESS Forum

The Texas AFT T-TESS Forum is a Facebook group that serves as a place for teachers being evaluated under the T-TESS system to share ideas and concerns, and access information about the evaluation system. Please join the conversation with us!

Bridges Institute for Professional Development

Texas AFT’s Bridges Institute regularly hosts trainings and webinars related to professional development and T-TESS. To find upcoming events and trainings, visit the Bridges Institute website.

Legal Information

Questions?

If you have questions or concerns, please contact your local union. If you’re a member of the Associate Membership Program, please contact the AMP service department.   

Have a question about your rights? Contact a union expert about policies by downloading the Ask Texas AFT app for free.