Dallas ISD's Hinojosa on Teacher Eval System: ‘I Think the Debate Is Over'

After seeing the most recent data, Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa has offered his strongest words yet in support of the district’s much-debated teacher evaluation and merit pay system, the Teacher Excellence Initiative.“I think the debate is over,” Hinojosa said. “The data speaks for itself.”Even trustees in opposition to TEI didn’t question the data’s main takeaway: Dallas ISD is doing a great job keeping its better teachers, while losing those who perform poorly under the system.TEI uses a combination of principal observations, student surveys and student assessments to evaluate teachers. It then uses those scores to set a teacher’s pay in one of nine fixed ranges.The system — a cornerstone of former superintendent Mike Miles’ reform agenda — has been controversial since its inception, with its continued existence at risk depending on swings in school board’s makeup.While Hinojosa said that “it’s a reach” to say TEI has been the sole driver of the district’s recent successes — which include significantly reducing the number of “improvement required” campuses and showing strong gains in state math assessments — the system’s importance can’t be dismissed, he said.“We cannot have legislation by anecdote,” Hinojosa said. “We cannot have a few people telling us how bad it was for them, but yet when we look at [the data, we see] how good it is for the system. Yes, we still have problems, but we can fix those. Those are not major.”At the November board briefing, the district’s HR chief, Karry Chapman, walked trustees through a slew of charts and tables on the merit pay system. Among the highlights were: DISD’s overall retention rate was 86 percent, better than Texas’ retention rate of 83 percent. More than 94 percent of its highest performing teachers were retained. Over 90 percent of teachers received a raise last school year. The average raise throughout the district in 2017-18 was $1,652. DISD’s average salary ($57,788) was better than the average of its peers in North Texas. Thanks to TEI’s structure, DISD teachers are earning higher salaries quicker than traditional pay systems based on experience level. In two of the three highest effectiveness levels, average salaries increased between $12,000 and $17,555. Of the 9,941 teachers who were evaluated under the system, only 176 were in those elite categories. The largest bulk of those evaluated, 4,099 teachers (41 percent), were graded as “Proficient I”, which received a smaller increase ($1,224) than in the previous two years under TEI.   Continue reading...

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