See It Again: A Beginner’s Guide to the Teacher Excellence Initiative


See It Again is a feature on the Hub that looks back on and reposts noteworthy stories from the past year.

Research has repeatedly shown that effective teachers play the biggest role within schools in improving student achievement.

Given their critical role, Dallas ISD launched the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI) in 2014 to identify, support and reward effective teachers. TEI is a part of Dallas ISD’s Destination 2020 plan, which aims to improve the quality of instruction and place an effective teacher in every classroom.

Here is what you should know about TEI.

How does TEI identify effective teachers?
Classroom teachers are annually evaluated on the following components:

TEI graph

  • Teacher performance is evaluated on how a teacher prepares lessons, develops classroom culture, delivers instruction, and grows as a professional. To determine these components, certified evaluators conduct spot observations (10 to 15 minutes each), an extended observation (45 minutes or one lesson), a summative evaluation and informal observations.
  • Student achievement is evaluated based on student growth and performance on multiple tests, school growth and performance on state standardized tests, and Student Learning Objectives (SLO). The SLO is a measure of student growth during the year.
  • Student experience is a part of the evaluation for teachers who teach third through 12th grades. Students complete research-based, age appropriate surveys available in English and Spanish that ask about teacher actions that impact student achievement. For more information about these surveys, which were administered the week of April 6, click here. You can also click here to see a video of teachers discussing the survey.

How are effective teachers rewarded?
TEI provides effective teachers the opportunity to significantly increase their salaries. The strategic compensation plan eliminates the traditional salary schedule based on years of service and replaces it with nine overall levels of effectiveness, which are informed by the teacher’s annual evaluations. Here is a chart showing the teacher effectiveness levels and accompanying salary:

Click here to see a video of teachers discussing the TEI compensation levels.

What is Distinguished Teacher Review?
As the above chart points out, teachers go through the Distinguished Teacher Review process to receive a Proficient II effectiveness level or above. In addition to achieving high scores in teacher performance, student achievement and student surveys (if applicable), DTR teachers meet additional criteria and undergo a separate review process. The review looks at a teacher’s quality of instruction, leadership, lifelong learning, and contributions to the profession.

Click here to see a video of a DTR applicant talking about the process.

How does the district support teachers?
In its effort to promote and support effective teaching, the district provides specialized professional development opportunities, digital curriculum tools, classroom resources, and coaching from campus leadership.

Is TEI set in stone?
TEI is a continuous improvement model, which means the initiative is continually refined based on input from teachers and principals. TEI campus experts, a group of nearly 500 Dallas ISD teachers, have weighed in on aspects of TEI throughout the year.

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