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White Oak ISD one of first Texas districts to implement new teacher evaluation program

Longview News Journal
February 16, 2015

By Bridget Ortigo

White Oak ISD will pilot a new teacher evaluation system next school year before it is rolled out statewide in 2016-17.

The district’s board of trustees adopted T-TESS — Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System — this past week, and training for administrators is set to begin in June at the Region 7 Education Service Center.

While 60 districts across the state are ending a pilot year with the new system, White Oak will be one of 200 districts to participate in refining it during the 2015-16 school year.

T-TESS will replace what’s known as PDAS — Professional Development and Appraisal System — in use across the state.

“Because of the work we are engaged in with our district focus of transforming classroom instruction, we believe the new evaluation system focuses on areas that are critical in supporting teachers in their professional development and strengthening instructional practices,” Mitzi Neely, White Oak ISD’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, said Thursday. “It’s about moving from teacher-centered to student-centered,” she said.

According to the Texas Education Agency, the new system is designed around three main measures of effectiveness: observation, teacher self-assessment and student growth.

During the pilot year, the measures were assigned percentages to determine the overall rating, with observation representing 70 percent, teacher self-assessment 10 percent and student growth 20 percent.

“The new system is designed with four domains and five performance levels and allows for teachers and administrators to work together with regard to goal setting, planning for professional development opportunities and improving instructional practices,” Neely said.

The TEA said districts had outgrown the 17-year-old PDAS.

“PDAS drifted from its original intent to be a professional development system for teachers and became a system focused more on compliance with rules,” states the TEA’s website.

“PDAS had become more of a compliance and check-off-the list model, and T-TESS is truly about creating an open and collaborative campus environment with a continual focus on instruction and professional practices,” Neely said.

White Oak ISD will begin training its teaching staff in August — the start of the new school year, Neely said.

Winona ISD also will take part in PDAS next school year.

Neely said White Oak ISD will have a jump on the new system.

“We will be a part of the refinement year and move into the implementation year having one year of experience under our belt,” Neely said.

Next year’s refinement period will allow schools to provide feedback to the TEA about any needed changes.

“Coming off of the pilot year, we’d expect some adjustments and tweaks,” Neely said. “We have one district focus — to transform classroom instruction to a student-centered environment for a ‘this’-century education.

“Everything we do is strategically planned. This new system will help with the professional development and growth of our teachers. Everything is done with the intention to help our teachers transform the environment to be more engaging.”

Spring Hill ISD trustees are set to discuss and possibly take action on the T-TESS and similarly new T-PESS — Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System — at a 6 p.m. meeting today.