Talking TEI: The top 5 misconceptions about TEI


As the Teacher Excellence Initiative seeks to reshape the paradigm by which teachers are evaluated and compensated—evolving from tying salary increases to years of service to rewarding teachers based on their effectiveness in the classroom—the Dallas Independent School District has worked to communicate the details of the new evaluation system.

However, there have been many questions and, frankly, misinformation regarding TEI. The Hub wanted to set the record straight about five of the biggest misconceptions of TEI.

  1. TEI is a way to get rid of veteran teachers.

False. TEI defines, supports and rewards excellent teachers. The evaluation system measures teacher effectiveness through multiple components: teacher performance, student achievement and student perception.

TEI’s ability to provide greater salary growth compared to the traditional salary-step system is good news for all teachers – especially for veteran teachers nearing retirement, since the TRS Retirement System bases retirement salary on a teacher’s top three to five years of income earned.

  1. Target distribution limits teachers.

False. While often referred to as a bell curve, in short, the target distribution ensures fairness in many ways. For example, target distribution ensures that a high school physics teacher has the same chance of being “distinguished” as a bilingual kindergarten teacher or a middle school PE teacher. The target distribution is a way to make sure TEI is equally rigorous for all teachers. Click here to learn more about how the target distribution works.

  1. TEI uses evaluation data to target non-renewals.

False. TEI defines, SUPPORTS, and rewards excellence. Data collected through TEI helps the district know where it can provide targeted support— including relevant professional development and instructional coaching—to a teacher. A low effectiveness level is not an indication of non-renewal, but rather a way for the district to further support that teacher.

The ultimate goal is to move the district’s teaching force to become the strongest, most effective body of teachers in the country so that our students can achieve at the highest level.

  1. Only distinguished teachers are eligible for increased compensation under TEI.


A teacher’s Effectiveness Level determines compensation and the possible salary increase.

When calculating salary, remember a couple important rules: In order to receive Proficient II Effectiveness level or above, teachers must go through the Distinguished Teacher Review. Returning teachers will never receive a salary below what they made in 2014–15 (salary floor), and increases will be limited to the $5,000 cap for 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.

Also, remember that teachers under TEI are not eligible for the 3% increase, as they are now on the strategic compensation salary schedule.

Here are resources to learn more: Video: Understanding Strategic Compensation; How to Calculate your 2015-16 Salary, Salary Calculator

  1. The Distinguished Teacher Review is impossible. It’s too much paper work.

False. For eligible teachers, the Distinguished Teacher Review requires two components:

-an online application based on criteria for leadership, lifelong learning and contributions to the profession – See samples of former Distinguished Teacher Review applicants here

-additional classroom observation conducted by a two-to-three member team.

Because TEI is a continuous improvement model driven by teacher input, the district has shortened the DTR application based on teacher feedback from last school year. DTR is designed to allow a teacher to highlight the work they have done for years but without compensation for doing so.

Talking TEI is an eight-part series that dives into the nuts and bolts of the district’s new teacher evaluation system.

A Beginner’s Guide to TEI

Part 1: Welcome to Talking TEI

Part 2: Ed talk with Dr. Bravo: TEI scorecards

Part 3: On the road to TEI

Part 4: Under TEI, teachers have potential to earn higher salaries faster

Part 5: TEI based on a foundation in research

Part 6: What it means to be distinguished

Part 7: Communication is key for TEI



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