Issue 9 – Teacher of the Year, spot observations, student survey results and more


“Notes from the Superintendent” is a document intended to provide answers to the most frequently asked or most topical questions that I hear from our dedicated teachers and staff members at the campus level. These notes are kept on the HUB, the district’s online newsroom, and will provide brief answers to different questions every two weeks. If you have a question related to something that affects a number of employees, you may submit that question here. I hope this additional form of communication will help all of us stay on the same page and enhance our ability to serve our students.


What are the district’s plans for the Teacher of the Year program?

Answer: The message below was sent to all staff members earlier today regarding this question.

Thank you for your tireless effort and dedication in helping our students succeed this school year. It continues to be a privilege to observe effective teaching in action during visits to schools. It only reaffirms my belief that the Teacher Excellence Initiative is the right way to recognize and reward teachers in our classrooms for their overall effectiveness. I also believe, as do many of you who I have heard from, that TEI represents a positive step forward for the teaching profession, as it will more closely align with the pay and reward structure used in other professions.

As a result of the transition to the Teacher Excellence Initiative, the Teacher of the Year selection and announcement process is being adjusted to align and coincide with the teacher effectiveness results. The new process will allow the district to recognize significantly more teachers at each campus for their efforts to go the extra mile on behalf of their students. Since TEI results will not be available until October, it would be premature to have a Teacher of the Year recognition this spring, so plans are being made to have a program that will enable the district to recognize several “teachers of the year” during a formal reception to be held this fall. The change will be similar to how principals are recognized. This past fall, a program was held to honor several principals for their work the previous school year, rather than honoring just one.

We recognize that any change in the Teacher of the Year program, which has served this school district well for many years, also represents a culture shift. So too, of course, does the Teacher Excellence Initiative. Aligning the Teacher of the Year program to fit with TEI makes sense for the district in the long run.

Teacher Appreciation Week is coming in May and we will take advantage of this opportunity to recognize all teachers for their hard work this school year. Again, thank you for everything you do to ensure each of our students receive an excellent education.

Question: Will peers be able to conduct spot observations next year?

Answer: The Principal Focus Group will discuss this possibility at their next meeting. As you know, next year Distinguished teachers will receive six spot observations during the year, Proficient teachers will receive 8, and Progressing teachers will receive a minimum of ten. The Focus Group will discuss a proposal to allow two of the spot observations to be conducted by a teacher or instructional coach selected by the teacher being observed.

Question: Will teacher evaluations include SLOs next year?

Answer: Based on input from teachers and principals, the district will keep the SLOs. However, the process for creating, recording, and assessing SLOs will be significantly modified and improved. Teachers and principals recommended decreasing the number of steps (from seven to three) required to complete an SLO and to conduct much more training on how to develop SMART goals. Most agreed that it was still important to have an individual student achievement goal that was developed in conjunction with the teacher’s evaluator.

Question: I received 74 points out of 100 on my summative performance evaluation that my Principal conducted last week. How does this translate into performance points for TEI?

Answer: It depends on your category. If you are a Category A teacher, 50 percent of your evaluation is tied to the performance instrument. Seventy-four points on the summative performance evaluation translates to 37 points (50 percent) for the performance score in TEI. For Category B teachers, 65 percent of the evaluation is tied to performance, so in this case, 65 percent of the 74 points (or 48 points) would be the equivalent TEI performance score.

Question: When will I receive the results of the student surveys that were just taken?

Answer: You will receive your student survey results in Schoolnet in mid-May, and you will receive your percentile indicating your relative performance before leaving for the summer. Your TEI evaluation scorecard that you will receive in September 2015 will reflect the total number of points out of 15 that you will earn from student surveys.


  • In the latest job fair (11 April), principals recommended 258 teachers for hire.
  • This summer, the district will conduct six summer learning labs for teachers and support three learning labs for the Teach For America summer institute. Approximately 180 alternative certification teachers and 100 current Dallas ISD teachers will be paired with mentor teachers as they teach summer school.


From College Preparedness Over the Years, According to NAEP, by Michael Petrilli and Chester Finn, Jr., found in Education Gadfly Weekly, vol. 15, 8 April 2015

Nobody should celebrate the fact that fewer than 40 percent of high school seniors are academically prepared for college-level work. (ACT shows similar “readiness” proportions for those who take its high-stakes test.) But why do we have the sense that this problem has worsened over time?

That’s because the proportion of recent high school graduates attending college is far higher than the proportion of twelfth graders who are prepared for college—and that gap has worsened over time. It started at twenty-one percentage points in 1992, grew to thirty-three points in 2005, and stood at 28 points as of 2013. (These numbers are for reading.)

College Enrollment vs. College Preparedness in Reading Chart

(Note: The college enrollment numbers come from Census Bureau table 276 – College Enrollment of Recent High School Completers, defined as: “persons 16 to 24 years old who graduated from high school in the preceding 12 months. Includes persons receiving GEDs.”)

To repeat: The “college preparation gap” is larger now than in 1992 even though the college preparedness rate has remained relatively flat, due to the fact that the proportion of recent high school graduates enrolling in college rose sharply between 1994 and 2009—from 61 percent to 70 percent—before easing back down to 66 percent in 2013.
Combine those two trends—college enrollment and college preparedness—and we can make a rough estimate of the number of students who arrived on campus prepared. The next chart takes the proportion of twelfth graders testing at the college-prepared level in reading and divides it by the proportion of that class of students immediately enrolling in college. (To be sure, we have to make a significant assumption that virtually all students who reached the “college-prepared” level on NAEP enrolled in college. That is a stretch, but probably not too much of a stretch to make this exercise useful.)

Incoming Freshmen Who Were College-Prepared

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