Birdville T-TESS Refinement Team


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Save the Date

Friday, Jan. 8th 2016 at 9-11am

1451 South Cherry Lane

White Settlement, TX

ESC11 will be hosting a meeting of T-TESS pilot principals and assistant principals January 8, 2016 from 9-11am. As soon as they send the invite, I will forward it to you. This should be a great opportunity to interface with other leaders who are in the same boat as you. In addition, our feedback has already caused TEA to make some changes, so this will be another opportunity to be sure your feedback is heard.

Feedback from December Meeting

Data-Driven Decisions:
After analyzing data from goal-setting and observation forms, the following concepts emerged as high areas of need for teacher support:
  • Differentiation
  • Student-Centered Strategies and Structures
  • Higher-Order Questioning
  • Formative Assessment

We have some exciting opportunities for professional learning ahead (see below), but will also be working to develop other, more targeted learning in these areas.


We will require electronic signatures on the end-of-year conference form, but not on any other forms.

Who wants to be COOL?

You and your staff will be invited to join our new COOL communities in Canvas over the next week. These groups provide an environment where we can be Creators of Our Own Learning. I will be feeding the groups with challenges to guide their learning to some degree, but they also have the discussion board, self-directed learning and other resources to support them as they lead their learning and that of their peers. The T-TESS pilot group will also be the first to have the chance to engage in the new self-directed learning process so we can gather feedback and refine that as well.

The first challenge focuses on getting an overview of the purpose and function of the community as well as a discussion about their professional goals. The second challenge will focus on the Professional Practices and Responsibilities Domain of T-TESS so that teachers will have a solid understanding of their role in their own goal-setting and professional learning.

Upcoming challenges will be based upon supporting their learning in the areas of the Learning Platform that represent their specific goals and T-TESS rubrics.

Participation in these groups is optional, but they will be the primary source of T-TESS professional learning support for the time being. As we embrace the culture of T-TESS, it is more important than ever to transform professional learning as well. Our COOL groups will help us begin that process by creating a space for the teachers to own their learning, collaborate, dive deeper into rubrics, and build a community beyond the school walls.

Stay tuned for your invitation to get COOL!
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At our last meeting, you were invited to self-assess your own growth and transformation as part of the T-TESS culture. In case life has been busy (ha!) or you want to go into reflective mode during the break, here are the shifts we are working to make (pictures below). Where do you feel like you are in each journey? This is just for need to submit your answers anywhere :)

Notes from TEA


Clearly conferences are significant components of T-TESS and the feedback we received last year indicate that, while very valuable for educator development, they can be uncomfortable for appraisers as they first start interacting with this system.

Appraisee Anxiety
Any conference about an individual’s practice, which is personal and is something in which educators take pride, can be a difficult topic of conversation. The relationship that exists between appraiser and appraisee will go a long way in lowering the appraisee’s anxiety about conferences (and with each conference that occurs, the relationship should generally strengthen). Additionally, the culture of appraisal will shape an appraisee’s perspective on conferences. Those districts and campuses that have sold the message of development - that it’s okay to be where you are as an educator, but it’s not okay to stay there – will be able to build beneficial conference environments relatively quickly.

Appraiser Anxiety
Appraisers have their own concerns as they approach conferences. How does an appraiser hold a constructive conference when the appraiser doesn’t know as much about the subject-specific content as the teacher? What happens when the appraisee has little to add to the conversation because the appraisee simply isn’t reflective?
A T-TESS conference is more about diagnosis than anything. Appraisal in general is primarily about diagnosis – what’s working, what’s not working, and what do we want to improve moving forward. The professional development comes after and in response to accurate diagnosis. My job as an appraiser is not to tell a calculus teacher how best to teach a lesson on mathematical optimization, but instead to provide evidence back to the teacher on how students responded to the practices the teacher deployed during the observed lesson.

As an instructional leader, the appraiser should have insight into pedagogy so that he or she can help determine why the students didn’t respond favorably to an aspect of the lesson (and the rubric helps guide that insight). And an appraiser, if they feel comfortable enough with pedagogy, can suggest a few pedagogical strategies to try out that could improve a practice (again, the rubric helps guide those suggestions). The real development, however, comes after the conference when the teacher focuses on a particular practice for refinement. Beyond being diagnostic, the conference is an opportunity to promote self-assessment on the part of the educator. The appraiser isn’t present frequently enough to be the sole source of formative feedback. The appraisee has to develop habits of reflection and accurate self-assessment to truly move into the accomplished and distinguished levels. No teacher or principal gets it right all the time, but those who have the ability to self-diagnose and adjust their practices when no one else is watching will be the most successful. In that sense, conferencing is about coaching – instilling habits, much like developing muscle memory.

New Processes

T-TESS is new and the conference component is something many educators haven’t experienced recently. The flow of those conversations depends on two individuals engaging professionally and openly – both the appraiser and appraisee. Both will get more comfortable as they gain experience with the system and the conferences within the system. Both will realize the value of the conference and understand what needs to occur in them to obtain that value. Conferences will build on each other and a shorthand will develop between the appraiser and appraisee so that conferences will become more efficient and comfortable. T-TESS will not be implemented perfectly in year one, or likely year two. Educators will get more comfortable with them over time and will soon discover their own best practices for making the systems work for them. Each year should prove more successful than the previous one.


Thanks to everyone who participated in the T-TESS fall survey. By last count, we had over 1,200 appraisers and close to 14,000 teachers take part in the survey. Those are great numbers, and we appreciate the time you took to contribute your thoughts.

ESSA...What does it mean for T-TESS?

From ESC11:

The following message was sent to ESCs today from Ryan Franklin, Associate Commissioner for Educator Leadership and Quality. Please review this information in regards to the relationship between the newly authorized Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the new Texas T-TESS/T-PESS systems. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available:

As most already know, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law on December 10th. With its passage, I’d like to again clarify that this bill does not impact the agency’s plan for implementing the new teacher and principal appraisal systems in any way.

The new teacher and principal appraisal systems, T-TESS and T-PESS, respectively, were designed based on the recommendations of our state educators and in the best interest of educator development. The Texas Education Agency did not shape any component of either T-TESS or T-PESS for the purpose of securing a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. Because the commissioner would not require districts to implement a single system or require districts to use value-added measures as their measure of student growth, Texas was placed on a conditional waiver with a high-risk designation for the 2015-2016 school year.

Now that the necessity of securing a waiver has passed, TEA and the twenty regional service centers can continue with the work of supporting districts as they transition to T-TESS and T-PESS without the burden of federal interference. T-TESS and T-PESS will become the state recommended teacher and principal appraisal systems with the 2016-2017 school year. Student growth is scheduled to become a required component of all teacher appraisal systems and T-PESS during the 2017-2018 school year. Even though all districts will be required to implement student growth as a part of their teacher appraisal system in 2017-2018, no district will be required to use state test scores in their measure of student growth.

Student Growth

I had the pleasure of attending two meetings about the student growth component. I am excited to share the option that TEA will be recommending - do not be scared! It is definitely not what I thought it was going to be, but is instead a very open model that fits perfectly with the T-TESS rubrics, PLCs and continuous improvement. I will share this information with you at our next meeting and we can begin to discuss if we would like any group to pilot the process next year.
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