VIDEO: Inside TEI: Teacher input shapes system

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Dallas ISD’s new system to evaluate teachers has been built through gathering input from the ones who will be evaluated: teachers themselves. “Each level – elementary, middle school and high school – was asked for their input,” said veteran instructor Terri Calvert.

Calvert is talking about the Teacher Excellence Initiative, or TEI, which took effect this school year.

“Most teachers were concerned about the pay,” Calvert said. “Where they were going to fit along the pay scale, so knowing that they wouldn’t go lower than their current pay scale was comforting to most.”

The idea is to identify effective teachers and support them with feedback, which in turn would financially reward them. At the core of those conversations are people like Calvert, an AP U.S. History teacher at Kimball High School.

“I was in some of the teacher focus groups when we were dividing the pies and how student performance was [going to]count,” Calvert said.

Teachers throughout the district are able to address their concerns to designated TEI experts. The expert is then able to take back those concerns to the rest of the panel, comprising all 224 schools. Between two and three experts are identified at each school, which means more than 500 teachers districtwide are active in shaping the evaluation system.

Calvert, who has spent nearly two decades in the classroom, is one of the TEI experts. As a liaison between her school and the program, she poses questions on behalf of her campus and then takes back what gets decided.

“We received a lot of training, and then we in turn came back to the campuses to tell the teachers, and train the teachers; let them know what’s going on and let them know what is expected of them and answer some of the questions they had,” Calvert said.

Superintendent Mike Miles said the current system lays the groundwork.

“We know this is just version one. It’s not a done deal,” Miles said. “We’re going to continue to improve it over time.”

Learn more about TEI here. (LINK: www.dallasisd.org/tei).

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