Navigating the T-TESS, Part 3

Like the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS), the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) is primarily based on the appraiser’s written report of a teacher’s performance in a formal or walk-through observation. Read on to learn what Texas teachers can do before and after their observations to help improve their T-TESS appraisals.

Requesting a Pre-Observation Conference

The T-TESS allows but does not require a pre-observation conference in the 2016-17 school year. After that year, the T-TESS will require pre-observation conferences only for announced observations. Whether observations are announced—in other words, whether you receive advance notice—is a local decision.

Even if a pre-conference is not required, it would be good practice to request one. This gives you an opportunity to find out what your appraiser is going to be looking for and to discuss any challenges you have dealt with and what you have done to tackle them. For unannounced observations, you will need to know when your appraiser is likely to start doing observations, to get in your request for a pre-conference ahead of time.

What to Expect in the Post-Observation Conference

A post-observation conference between teacher and appraiser is required after the formal, 45-minute observation but is not required for less formal observations, like walk-through observations. When required, the conference must:

  • Be conducted within 10 working days of the observation.
  • Be diagnostic and prescriptive in nature.
  • Include a written observation report for each dimension observed. This written report should be presented to the teacher only after a discussion of the “areas of refinement or reinforcement” and can, “at the discretion of the appraiser,” allow for a revision to an “area of refinement or reinforcement.” This is a change from the PDAS. Under the PDAS, the completed report was generally shared with the teacher before the meeting or at the beginning of the meeting. The purpose of this change was to make it easier for the appraiser to adjust their scores or comments based on a discussion with the teacher, creating an environment of flexibility.

Teacher Response Options (Note Important Changes with the T-TESS)

Sometimes, even after the post-observation conference, the teacher may not agree with the appraiser’s observation report and feel the need to respond. Like the PDAS, the T-TESS allows for a written response and a request for a second appraiser.

A Written Response

A teacher may submit a written response or rebuttal to document their disagreement with the scores, descriptions, or comments contained in any document relating to their performance within 10 working days:

  • After receiving a written observation report or any written documentation relating to Domains I, II, or III.
  • After receiving a written summative annual appraisal report that contains information relating to Domain IV or the performance of the teacher’s students.

NEW FOR T-TESS: A teacher may not submit a written response to a written summative annual appraisal report if (a) the ratings or information are the same as that provided to the teacher earlier in an observation report or other documentation and (b) the teacher did not submit a response at that time.

This means that, with the T-TESS, teachers can no longer safely “wait and see” if scores improve on the summative report. Waiting to submit a response could cause the teacher to lose the right to respond at all.

A Request for a Second Appraisal

A teacher may submit a written request for a second appraisal by a different certified appraiser within 10 working days:

  • After receiving a written observation report relating to Domains I, II, or III.
  • After receiving a written summative annual appraisal report that contains information relating to Domain IV or the performance of the teacher’s students.

NEW FOR T-TESS: A teacher may not submit a request for a second appraisal after receiving a written summative annual appraisal report if (a) the ratings or information are the same as that provided to the teacher earlier in an observation report and (b) the teacher did not submit a request for a second appraisal by a different appraiser at that time.

This new restriction means that a teacher can no longer safely “wait and see” if scores improve on the summative report.

Check back on the ATPE Blog as the year progresses for more T-TESS tips. For more information, see our T-TESS Resource Page. For more T-TESS tips, see Part 1 and Part 2 of our Navigating the T-TESS series.

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