KB Reference Desk: Teacher Evaluations

Q:      Our district requires teachers be evaluated every 3 years, even if the teacher waives evaluation. With the new T-TESS evaluation program coming out, we would like to evaluate new teachers in 16-17, but this would require noncompliance with our current 3-year rotation. Can we skip our veteran teachers up for evaluation in 16-17 in order to focus on less experienced teachers?

A:      Yes, but it likely requires a change in local policy.

By statute, teachers are required to be appraised once each school year, unless the teacher waives their yearly appraisal in writing and was proficient in his or her most recent appraisal. The longest waiver period allowed by law is 5 years. Thus, any rotation period under 5 years is set via local policy and can be amended by the board.

The simplest fix is to eliminate any local evaluation timeline in Board Policy DNA (LOCAL), which automatically adopts the legal standard of 5 years. Doing so does not mean that your principals must wait 4 or 5 years to appraise a teacher; it just sets the maximum time period between evaluations. 

Changing the local cap will allow your campuses to maintain the 3-year rotation for most employees, while also swapping some teachers’ evaluation rotation for T-TESS purposes. Later on, if you find that extending the maximum time period between appraisals is detrimental (fewer teachers being appraised each year), the Board can always change the maximum period back to 3 years in subsequent school years, after your principals have made their changes for T-TESS purposes. 

We expect TASB Board Policy Update 105 to implement the change from PDAS to T-TESS. This will be an opportune time to present revisions to local policy. In doing so, also ensure all handbook provisions are revised consistent with any changes made to policy.