A joint settlement agreement between the Education Commissioner, Mike Morath, and the four major Texas teacher associations was filed on May 3rd.  The organizations, TSTA, TCTA, TAFT, and ATPE, had sued the state in April alleging that the new rules to implement T-TESS violated state laws and were against public policy.  The main result of the settlement was to remove language in the rules that require districts to use criteria in evaluations including “value-added data based on student state assessment results,” (VAM).

‘VAM attempts to use complex statistical calculations on students’ standardized test scores in previous years to predict how well a student should perform on future tests; the resulting test performance of an individual student – not accounting for myriad outside factors – is supposed to magically show whether that student’s most recent teacher was effective or not,” said ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Canaday at the time the lawsuits challenging the rules were filed.

ATPE Member Legal Services Director Donna Derryberry described the compromise struck this week as one that “will give districts more local control over their appraisal process” without being required to use VAM. “This is a great victory for all Texas teachers,” added Derryberry, “and ATPE is proud to have been instrumental in this settlement.”

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath said today that all major components of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) remain in place.  Student growth will remain part of statutorily-required teacher appraisal systems in either the state-recommended system or a locally-developed system a school district may wish to adopt.

Legal Digest’s Texas Documentation Handbook is currently being updated to reflect the update to T-TESS and our new printing will be available by June.

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