• Lori Kirkpatrick

Bye Bye TEI

I always knew the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI) would die out. I just didn’t think it would take a global pandemic to make it happen.

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on the world this year. And in DISD one downstream effect is that the district won’t be able to rank teachers with the TEI merit pay system (a value-added model system) this year.

The cancellation of TEI isn’t because the six year, $575 million national study titled “Improving Teaching Effectiveness: Final Report” proved it to be a failure. No, it’s because the state standardized test (STAAR) was canceled due to the coronavirus, and without knowing the STAAR scores we cannot pay teachers under TEI.

Does that bother anyone? Our teachers get paid based on the results of their student’s standardized test results.

It should bother you a whole lot:

1. Because value-added models are lousy for determining teacher effectiveness. See research

  1. Here (includes DISD data, "our findings show that (value-added models) are not picking up the things we think of as being good teaching...our findings are troubling")

  2. Here ("between 86% and 99% of the variance in student's standardized test scores can be explained by factors not influenced by the teacher")

  3. Here

2. Because paying teachers based on standardized test results leads to teaching to the test (not to be confused with teaching to the standards).

In the face of professional, peer-reviewed research that includes DISD data - DISD, some Trustees, and local education Reform organizations still claim that TEI is retaining the best teachers and improving student performance. Their evidence to support this claim is a chart that shows the more money a teacher is paid, the more likely a teacher is to stay in DISD.

Is this what we want - teachers to stay in DISD... to make more money...to improve STAAR test scores? Plenty of teachers don’t, hence DISD’s turnover rate has hovered around 20% since TEI. If you click on the link in the previous paragraph, DISD wants you to believe that turnover has lessened under TEI. What they don't say is that prior to Miles and TEI, DISD's teacher turnover was 9-14%.

TEI uses a statistical model (the value-added model) to predict each student's STAAR score by using the prior year STAAR score. So for now TEI based on STAAR is dead for two years.

Good riddance.

The bad news - TEI could be changed to incorporate an alternate assessment such as MAP, Measures of Academic Progress. The District has announced it will increase MAP use next year. MAP too is flawed especially for high-stakes use, but that’s for another blog.

Here’s an alternative to TEI that does not require STAAR scores and has been presented to the DISD administration. Check with Suzy Smith (jersmith@dallasisd.org) in Human Capital Management - she has a copy. Better yet, email DISD Board President Justin Henry (justinhenry@dallasisd.org) and Superintendent Michael Hinojosa (hinojosam@dallasisd.org) and request that they take a serious look at an alternative not test score driven.


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