Input from teachers and principals results in changes to evaluation system

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Feedback continues to play a critical role in shaping Dallas Independent School District’s Teacher Excellence Initiative, the District’s new evaluation system. This week, the TEI Experts and Principal Focus groups met to discuss a number of items related to the design and implementation of TEI.

In response to concerns raised by some teachers and parents, the groups considered decreasing the number of district-level exams (ACPs) for the elementary specials as well as other proposals. As a result of the feedback received from these representative groups and input from other staff members and stakeholders, the following revisions are being made to the teacher evaluation system:

  • The elementary specials ACPs (Art, Music, P.E.) for kindergarten, first and second grades will be eliminated. The elementary specials ACPs for kindergarten, first and second grades will no longer be administered. Each elementary student took only one special ACP in December and those scores will be counted. This spring, third-graders will take the art exam, fourth-graders will take the music exam and fifth-graders will take the P.E. exam as planned.
  • The ACP taskforce comprising parents, teachers and other district staff that was announced in December will continue to meet. The taskforce, which will begin meeting on Jan. 28, will provide suggestions on ways to improve the administration of the third- through fifth-grade specials ACPs.
  • The district writing ACP, administered in January, will no longer be an ACP, but a campus-level benchmark exam. That means the students will take the exam, but the exams can be administered by the teacher of the students and they can also be scored by the students’ teacher. Scores will not be used for TEI and will not be centrally collected. This will allow the teachers and schools to receive timely feedback and use the exams to improve instruction.
  • Principals are directed to limit STAAR or ACP practice or mock exams to one per subject per semester.  This is an attempt to reduce the number of “practice” exams during February and March. Additionally, School Leadership’s guidance to schools is to reduce the number of six-week exams the second semester. Campus leaders will have discretion regarding whether to have any six-week exams. Administration of the Scholastic Reading Inventory will also be a building-level decision.
  • All DTR-eligible teachers who apply for the process will receive two spot observations during the second semester.  While these teachers have not yet received a “distinguished” rating, principals have already conducted summative performance evaluations for them, so it seems reasonable to decrease the number of spot observations. Principals may conduct more than two spot observations if necessary.
  • Student survey questions will be available for teachers by the end of January.  The administration of the student survey will be the week of April 6.

Additionally, the Principal Focus Group proposed that teachers who earn an “Exemplary” or “Proficient III” effectiveness level should have their teacher contracts extended by two years (for a total of three), and those who earn a “Proficient II” or “Proficient I” effectiveness level should receive a two-year contract. The TEI expert group will consider this proposal at their next meeting.

Overall the feedback meetings, conducted as part of the District’s TEI continuous improvement model, are structured to include processes for regularly collecting input from teachers and principals to help shape and further strengthen the system.

These recent revisions follow others made by these focus groups last semester. As TEI is implemented, we will continue to rely on staff members and stakeholders to help the District make other adjustments or changes in order to ensure the evaluation system is fair, accurate and rigorous.

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