With the return of students to in-person classes this fall, Dallas ISD is poised for a return to using the Teacher Excellence Initiative’s full measures and metrics and the implementation of critical changes to address equity.
Disruptions to teaching and learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as early as March 2020 led to a shift to virtual learning and other adjustments that made it difficult to gather the achievement and academic growth data necessary to continue evaluations and ratings. The Texas Education Agency, for example, suspended accountability ratings for districts and schools.
Without sufficient and appropriate data for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, Dallas ISD paused the use of the full TEI scorecard. This means that over 35% percent of teachers in the district will be evaluated under the full metrics and measures of TEI for the first time in 2021-2022. Changes approved in February 2020 as part of the system’s continuous improvement model were impossible to implement without this data—until now.
TEI relies on student achievement, student academic growth and student experiences to evaluate teachers and place them in effectiveness levels that determine their salary and advancement. The suspension of the full evaluation system has provided a unique opportunity for the district to do a refresh that ensures all teachers receive a fair, accurate, and rigorous evaluation.
The changes will address equity within the system by:
- Utilizing an updated version of the Student Perception Survey and modifying the point distribution for this Student Experience component
- Increasing points available for High Priority Campus service from 5 to 10
- Modifying the targeted distribution process for evaluation ratings to provide two sets of cut points for comprehensive schools and admissions magnets.
While there were no changes in effectiveness levels for teachers in the past two years because of lack of sufficient and appropriate data, Dallas ISD is a fully approved participant in the state’s Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) program. This month, 579 additional highly effective teachers will be submitted to the state for TIA designation. Of these teachers, 43% work in the district’s 80 high priority campuses and will become eligible for additional HPC stipends this year.
The changes in the system and additional compensation through state funds to sustain TEI salaries and provide targeted stipends will help retain the best teachers throughout schools in Dallas ISD and ensure that highly effective teachers are attracted to campuses with the most need. In fact, teachers cannot reach the highest salary levels in TEI without having worked at high priority campuses, and the district projects the number of teachers at the Master Effectiveness Level to more than double in 2022-2023.
Since TEI implementation in 2014-2015, increased access to proficient educators at high priority campuses has gone up by 47% through strategic staffing and partnering with Leading and Learning to provide targeted support that develops teachers who are “near-proficient” and “near-distinguished.” Since implementation, retention of teachers identified as Distinguished has exceeded 90% annually. The average teacher salary has increased more than $10,000 since 2014-2015, with the average returning teacher salary projected at more than $64,000 this year.
TEI is one of several key initiatives that has driven a dramatic rise in student achievement since 2014-15. The TEI system is grounded in high expectations and growth-oriented feedback. This has led to a 90% reduction in the number of failing schools—from 43 to 4—with the percentage of Dallas ISD students enrolled on a campus rated “failing” by the state declining from 19% to 1% in five years.