The Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) is an optional evaluation system for teachers—developed by the Texas Education Agency—that can replace PDAS. It will be available statewide in the 2016-2017 school year.
For a broad overview of the new system, see What is T-TESS?
The critical action that Texas AFT teachers must take now is working at the local level—with parents, administrators and school boards—to ensure alternative methods of measuring student growth are written into local implementation—excluding the use of students’ test scores. Instead, student growth could much better be captured through the use of locally devised student learning objectives, portfolios demonstrating progress and growth, or as district-devised pre-test and post-test results showing mastery—all of which are available as options under T-TESS.
Many alternatives exist for measuring student growth in T-TESS. Teachers must organize through employee-based committees, campus and district advisory teams, consultation processes and just plain lobbying of local school boards to educate districts that T-TESS is not a state mandate. Moreover, if T-TESS is implemented as a district choice and a student growth component is formulated, let’s be ready to define appropriately how student growth will be measured.
For an idea of which issues will be decided locally, see T-TESS Local Decisions
Educators are professionals and understand the importance of an appraisal system. But that system should be based on a design focused on emphasizing teacher reflection and improvement, not a “gotcha” instrument designed to punish teachers for a variety of factors outside their control that can influence test scores.
The new T-TESS has the potential to be a usable teacher evaluation device, but it needs teacher input at the local level, and it needs to accommodate meaningful ways to measure student growth.
Have comments on T-TESS and its implementation, or questions? See our Texas AFT T-TESS Feedback Facebook Page.
For information on T-TESS training opportunities, contact your AFT local!
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