Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams wants an additional year to study a new state teacher evaluation system. The additional period would delay the official roll out for two years.
Commissioner Williams wrote a letter to federal education officials Wednesday, where he also requested the federal government extend a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements.
In a statement, Williams said:
“Texas educators understand the need to update the current evaluation system to one that better reflects what’s occurring in today’s classroom. Texas is to develop an evaluation system that truly supports our teachers, we need time to complete the pilot year and then utilize the constructive feedback we will receive from our school districts, charters and educators.”
The pilot evaluation program will still start this school year, but the TEA will now have an additional year to evaluate the new system. When state education officials accepted a waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirements last September, it was required to develop a new teacher evaluation system that focused on student achievement. If not, the state risked losing billions in federal funding.
Now, officials say the timeline was too tight. Halfway through the pilot program, the 2015 legislative session begins and teacher evaluations are expected to be a hot- button issue. The new evaluation system has caused controversy because 20 percent ties teacher evaluations to student performance – including standardized tests. The other 80 percent is based on classroom observation, feedback and self-assessments. It’s the first time the state has changed teacher evaluations in 17 years.
In a statement, Association of Texas Professional Educators Executive Director Gary Godsey praised William's decision.
“We appreciate the commissioner’s decision, because ATPE has worked hard to get more flexibility and time to ensure we are adopting a teacher evaluation model that will meet the needs of educators and students. We hope the Department of Education will approve the extension and give Texas more time to study the pilot results to determine what’s best for public education. The last thing we want is for a flawed evaluation system to be put into place.”