What is T-TESS?

What is T-TESS?

T-TESS is the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System.  It is a new teacher appraisal system for the state of Texas designed to support teachers in their professional development and help them grow and improve as educators. It was piloted by approximately 60 districts in the 2014-2015 school year and 200 districts in the 2015-2016 school year.  It will become the state recommended system starting with the 2016-2017 school year.

What are the components of T-TESS evaluation and on what are teachers rated?

T-TESS has two components, a 16 dimension rubric and student growth.

NOTE:  Student growth will not be implemented statewide until the 2017-2018 school year.

Districts have the option to keep final ratings either at the dimension level, which would lead to a teacher receiving 16 dimension ratings and a rating for student growth, or districts can produce a single summative rating, which would require districts to weight student growth at least at 20% of the total rating. 

If a district decides to produce a single summative rating for a teacher, it is recommended that the four domains on the T-TESS rubric and student growth each weigh 20%.

How was T-TESS developed?

T-TESS was developed by a steering committee comprised of teachers, principals, and representatives from higher education and educator organizations. They began their work in the fall of 2013 by updating teacher standards and, through the spring of 2014, continued with building a rubric tied to the standards. While the Texas Comprehensive Center at SEDL and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) facilitated the process, T-TESS is a system designed by educators to support teachers in their professional growth.

How will the TEA support school districts toward implementing the new system?

TEA, in conjunction with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), provided statewide “train the trainer” sessions at Education Service Centers (ESCs) during the spring of 2015 to prepare a cadre of experts to train district appraisers for the 2015-2016 refinement year and the 2016-2017 statewide rollout.  Similar to what is currently in place with the existing teacher appraisal system, PDAS, ESCs will continue to provide support systems for districts as they implement best practices in appraisal, including professional development and guidance for appraisers on conferences, coaching teachers, and utilizing teacher and instructional leaders in the observation process.

As the Texas Administrative Code indicates, districts have the option of creating their own evaluation system. T-TESS will replace PDAS as the state recommended evaluation system.

Will Texas school districts be required to use T-TESS when it is ready for statewide rollout?

As the Texas Administrative Code indicates, districts have the option of creating their own appraisal system. T-TESS will replace PDAS as the state recommended appraisal system.

Why is PDAS being replaced?

When PDAS was implemented in 1997, it was a step forward from the previous state appraisal system.  Over time, however, PDAS drifted from its original intent – to be a professional development system for teachers – and became a system focused more on compliance and ratings.  In addition, education has evolved in the last 17 years, and T-TESS seeks to update the tools of appraisal to complement what’s happening in classrooms throughout the state and to align with what many districts are already doing on their campuses – creating open, collaborative campus environments with a constant focus on instructional and professional development.

How will teacher and principal preparation align with T-TESS?

One of TEA’s major ongoing initiatives is to better align preparation, appraisal, professional development, mentorship and career pathways around a set of standards and practices that act as a foundation and bring the entire timeline of an educator’s career into alignment.  One of the first steps was to establish the teaching standards as the curricular base of preparation for teaching candidates.  In addition, TEA and the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) have revised principal preparation standards to elevate school culture and instructional leadership in the principal preparation curriculum hierarchy.  TEA and SBEC will continue to seek ways to align best practices in coaching, observing, conferencing, and developing educators with preparation program requirements.

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