Dallas ISD Teachers on TEI

For teachers with less experience their salary is significantly determined by student’s test scores and surveys. This causes a conflict of interest - instead of concerning themselves with growing the whole student, teachers are tasked with teaching to the STAAR and ACP tests. Sure, students will learn how to cram for tests and test-taking strategies, but there have been too many high school graduates who return to visit their teachers and tell them that high school did not adequately prepare them for college.

 

I thought that TEI was enacted to pay for performance. Then why are there requirements that I must have X number of years of experience to actually get the pay scale I met the rating for? Why would I work hard when I won’t actually be rewarded as promised?

 

The student survey is biased against teachers. If a student selects “neutral” on the survey for a class - that neutral counts negatively towards the teacher. I as a teacher cannot control the fact that the student doesn’t like math or history or english.  By the same token, it is positively biased towards electives.

 

Unfortunately, teachers will leave behind the lowest performing students to make sure they have more students get the passing scores that will count for them on TEI metrics.  This also results in teachers teaching to the test.

 

The emphasis on testing results in teachers being forced to teach how to pass a test instead of focusing on useful material. Students are not getting actual useful content. Teaching buttons is not inspiring and doing it “right” doesn’t give them any real sense of pride or accomplishment. They don’t see why they should learn it (and neither do I).

 

TEI rubric is vague and not content-specific. Some of the criteria set in the rubrics is more challenging or confusing when applied to different subjects (math vs. social studies for example). Teachers end up confusing kids and not teaching in the best way in efforts to meet bizarre standards that aren’t well suited to their subjects.

 

TEI is inadequate for special education teachers. I was given low scores because my lessons weren’t rigorous enough. Yet I was using a scripted program for students who are two or more years below grade level.

 

Teachers are only able to move up one rank on the TEI per year, and this makes jumping scores for good teachers irrelevant.

 

Test scores are factored in to TEI. Therefore students are encouraged to learn to the test and teachers are under undue stress to teach to the test.

 

TEI gives administrators too much power and they are human. If they don’t like you they use the evaluation process to sabotage you. On the other hand, for teachers that they do like or favor they will give them full advantage. Many teachers have received better TEI scores yet have not shown academic success with their students. Then the next year the students struggle because of a lack of knowledge to be successful and that next year teacher is blamed for their lack of progress.

 

Students and teacher make the top score - but still no raise for teacher. Did the work, but no compensation - not fair.

 

The score for proficient 1 changes every year AFTER we’re told what to shoot for. So we work hard for nothing.

 

Less inspiration for teachers to do better when you change the levels every year and prevent me from moving up.

 

Get rid of TEI - worthless. No raise for 3-5 years, either give a raise or lose more good teachers!

 

DTR joke - they don’t really want anyone to be DTR. The number of hoops to go through is ridiculous. Master teachers and qualified principals know (or should know) which teachers are distinguished - you don’t need the mess of TEI to sort that out. And because I am a great teacher, and I would rather spend my time teaching and making a difference in student’s lives - I’m not going to bother with the DTR process. So when I can go to Ft. Worth or Mansfield and make what I deserve that’s what I’ll do.

 

We need TEI gone - the rubric is not conducive to quality teaching.

 

Student surveys - students are immature. They hold grudges. Students give high scores to teachers who are nice and fun but not to teachers who make students learn. Students know it affects teacher pay, and it empowers them negatively. Surveys are fine but it shouldn’t affect pay.

 

I have english learners - how are they supposed to understand the survey questionnaire?

 

TEI levels change from one year to the next. Students will have new teachers because the experienced teachers will go elsewhere.

 

TEI doesn’t evaluate all areas and grades consistently. Also students are given more test prep work and less actual instruction in order to pass tests.

 

Teachers with SPED or ESL students will not see achievement like other students on standardized tests.

 

TEI is linked to student performance on standardized tests - that’s a problem - obviously teachers are going to teach to the test.

 

TEI rubric is very subjective - and teachers tend to adjust lessons to appease evaluators rather than meet student’s needs. We should get rid of TEI and use the statewide T-TESS system.

 

The surveys are poorly written - students are confused by the legal language used.

 

Do not tie TEI to payscale - right now the general tenor of the payscale system is “You’ve been here 6+ years, so please think about leaving.” Bonuses are extremely biased toward the top 3 magnet schools.

 

Performance by student survey - are you NUTS? A 5th grade student, who is 10 years old, with no experience teaching gives an evaluation. Imagine American Airlines evaluating their pilots performance on emergency procedures by the flying public who’ve never been in a cockpit.

 

TEI and new teachers - many try harder to jump through the hoops, as opposed to honing teaching skills and inspiring students.

 

No one wants to be working more, putting in more time, effort and money as I buy a lot of supplies for students and in the last 4 years I have been making the same salary with a $750 retention bonus which is rather insulting. Teachers work very hard with little recognition that translates into salary.

 

I want to be evaluated on what I teach - not the STAAR test for subjects I do not.  TEI is a biased and unfair system, especially for those who have a lot of experience. Because of TEI, a 2nd year teacher, with poor classroom management ended up making the same amount of money I do with almost 20 years of experience, 92% efficiency, 93% ACP passing and a lot of quality work.

 

We have a teacher that has done more for putting our school in the limelight with debate, UIL competition, mock trial, etc. and yet when he/she applied for DTR he/she received a 1, the lowest score for leadership. People who don’t know the applicant cannot assess a person and certainly not from a piece of paper.

 

Observations and DOL (Demonstration of Learning) - Students can feel the stress of their performance, because we are constantly telling them, “Do very well if someone comes and collects your DOL.” This is not fair to students - they should answer their DOLs in a relaxed and realistic setting so that we can have accurate data to proceed with further teaching.

 

Most points are awarded for only one section in each grade, regardless of student improvement. In a school with several sections it is common that not all sections have a balanced student population. Some sections end up with many SPED students vs others with none. How can these two sections be compared as equals? Impossible!!

 

TEI hurts students by limiting the number of teachers who will stay in Dallas ISD.

 

These observations can seem like a dog and pony show.  As an elective teacher, what my students feel comfortable sharing and doing in front of the class is very different than what they feel comfortable sharing and doing in front of “strangers”. Students have different learning styles and personalities. I can’t bring myself to put my kids in that position of asking them to discuss the very things that make my class life relevant in front of administrators. It is a violation of the trust they put in me. I would like the opportunity to say, “Hey, can we do a lesson where I don’t feel like my kids are being put on the spot?” Put me on the spot all you want, but it’s not fair to my kids who already are introverted, though usually think deeply, to have to share with a “stranger” what I’ve worked really hard to create, which is a climate of trust and encouragement within the group. Some of the questions that show I know my students and the struggles they face at home or outside the classroom - well I can’t bring myself to violate their trust to ask them in front of you.

 

Some of the survey questions are administrative issues yet fall on the teacher. For example, if I send a student to administration for cussing, threatening, etc and they are sent right back to my classroom, well of course my kids didn’t feel safe and answer so on the survey.

 

TEI is not accurate.  How could my evaluation jump 30 points in one year?

 

TEI is not appropriate for specials teachers.  Every evaluation domain is hard to implement with large, rotating classes. For Art the DOL is the completed art project. Also, there is no ACP for art, the only score we have is the student survey. Last year only 3rd graders were surveyed for art. My 3rd graders do not even know my name - they keep calling me the music teacher’s name and vice versa. I am at a low performing school, our 3rd graders cannot read the survey questions. Due to this I was dropped from an 81 to a 69. MANY years of experience and you are telling me that I’m not even proficient. No cost of living raise for me. I am going to leave the district and take my expertise with me.

 

Because my efforts have to be focused on getting TEI points, I cannot use the best teaching practices that I have learned over three decades.

 

Teachers at low performing schools are punished with TEI instead of being rewarded for our efforts. I received 4 points out of a possible 20 on STAAR. I don’t even teach a STAAR tested subject. Teachers at low performing schools should be given incentive points. The current program in effect for that only covers a few schools.

 

Discontinue the use of surveys for TEI and instead use the surveys to help teachers build or repair relationships with students, tailor engaging lessons, and help develop student communication and coping skills.

 

TEI - the goal numbers change every year.  It’s like trying to hit a moving target. It makes teachers feel cheated, overworked and underpaid, used up - thus morale is low. You just lose motivation to go above and beyond. STOP moving the target!

 

The requirement to apply for DTR and basically sell your worth is burdensome and offensive.

 

It adversely affects students by discouraging young teachers, for example:

-there is a years of service restriction keeping novices from advancing that should be lifted after the first year of teaching.

-it is exceptionally difficult to become DTR (Distinguished) eligible for great teachers, and if there are multiple great teachers in a school they must compete with one another - discourages collaboration and is discouraging to be “bell curved” out of something you actually achieved - so people just don’t try, promotes apathy.

 

TEI is not objective - regardless of what we were told. Asst. principals can still trash teachers by lying about their performance, both in scores and dialogue. Get rid of TEI and a stuck in the mud pay scale, what are the rest of the districts doing? TEI makes for unhappy teachers who want to either resign or move to another district.

 

Teachers with high scores get low ratings. This frustrates them and they move away. The good teachers go elsewhere leaving their students behind with new inexperienced teachers. We must recognize TEI as the unfair and inequitable system that it is.

 

Student surveys are seen by some students as a chance to get back at teachers who must discipline them. This should be removed from the evaluation process.

 

Teachers in low performing schools should not be rated by criteria difficult to attain in their situations. Underperforming students are locked into a cycle as teachers will want to go to the schools where they can receive higher ratings.

 

Why are general ed teachers restricted by TEI from getting a decent raise when bilingual teachers get a stipend every school year no matter how they score? Some of us have not received a real cost of living raise or any other kind in years.

 

Scrap TEI and create a fairer system on feedback and input from teachers, not surveys or administrators only.

 

There are too many discrepancies. There are principals giving out 3’s like it’s nothing and then there are principals who will not give a 3 unless the teacher is and I quote, “Next to God” in their performance. As a result, too many good teachers cannot compete when it comes to the scale scoring and we are going to lose quality, experienced teachers this year and next when they can’t rise above the amount they would make in any other district that only pays for years of experience. Considering I pay for most of my own supplies, I know that if I can find a job in Irving or any other higher paying district next year, I will be forced to take the opportunity to keep helping kids while not going further into financial ruin.

 

GROSSLY UNFAIR! Teachers are not on a level playing field. Some teachers’ scores do not rely on the subject test scores (arts, PE, etc.). How can pay rates be fair with so many different schedules?

 

It adversely affects students when their teachers are constantly doing a slow burn over the TEI program. Scrap the darn thing and hold principals accountable for protecting ineffective teachers.

 

I’m going to do what I’ve heard many other teachers do and butter up the children before the survey.

 

I find myself being inauthentic with the children by constantly telling them how much I care about them (I do!) but the motivation is to raise my pay as I near retirement. I’m playing the game. I HATE IT!

 

My only salvation is that I am at a school with a fantastic principal and parents. I harbor nothing but contempt for all that is DISD for screwing up. I can never let go of Flores’ 2012 comment that teachers should give a full 8 hours for a full day’s pay.

 

TEI is data micromanaging in lesson plans, centers and 3 weeks at a time. This means I have less time to address individual needs of my students.

 

TEI - there is no improvement. Every time it’s time to get a raise, they change things. We don’t even get a cost of living raise. Experienced teachers are leaving. TEI makes you want to quit teaching.

 

Great teachers are leaving the classroom when they realize how subjective the system is and how difficult it truly is to obtain the published pay raise scale.

 

DTR in TEI is a joke. If you qualify but do not apply you are kept in the main tier. If you apply you will more than likely not be approved. What’s the point?

 

The rubric and those trained to do evaluations are a problem. For example, I was told on two separate occasions that because I teach ESL classes there is no way that I can ever score a 3 in Domain 2 because my students will not be able to ask higher-order questions at the appropriate level of rigor. Reword the rubric to account for the language barrier the ELs experience. Retrain principals and other evaluators to understand what they should be looking for in an ESL classroom. Principals should understand that ELs often ask higher order questions although they might not be asked in grammatically standard form, and they may rely on peers to help them convey their questions.

 

Teachers are disincentivized, as they realize that there is not an authentic connection between what they are doing during the lesson cycle - data analysis, planning, instruction, activities, assessments. Rather, the principal has been pressured by the district to give low scores, for whatever reasons - student achievement and fiscal caps.

 

According to the research compiled by Daniel Pinker in his seminal work “Drive,” if we want people to work hard, problem solve creatively, and engender exceptional results, they need four things from employers:

Money - enough on the table that they are no longer stressing over money.

Mastery - quality trainings and learning opportunities to master their craft.

Purpose - the assurance that what they are doing during the lesson cycle is helping students, and not simply jumping through impossible “hoops” designed to actually be locked gates in a pyramid scheme.

Autonomy - to create and problem solve, teachers need some autonomy for decision making.

For example, editing a lesson plan, making adjustments to the delivery of a lesson, or changing pace should not be a penalizable action. Rather it should be acknowledged as exactly what an effective teacher does. Monetary incentives only work for speeding up a repetitive process but adversely effect problem solving and motivation.

 

Grading students based on ability and holding all teachers to same accountability as others without having the same student demographics is highly inequitable. We should be using a beginning of the year classroom exam and then work towards growth.

 

Advanced degrees (Master’s, Doctorate, etc.) carry no stipend or difference in pay. They do not even give points under TEI unless they were done within the last two years. If teachers have no incentive to pursue a true lifelong education goal, and do not have the additional means to pay for the high cost of graduate courses, they simply will not do it. If teachers don’t grow, then neither will their students.

 

I have seen and heard students plot against teachers and plan to “get them fired” simply because those teachers had behavioral expectations and academic rigor in their classrooms. Conversely, teachers who do such things as give unapproved pizza parties or show motives with no educational purpose are given high praise indeed.

 

END TEI - educators are being penalized for poor job performances beyond their control (ADHD students with no meds, lack of parental support, over crowded classrooms). The more highly qualified educators will seek employment in other school districts.

 

Eliminate teachers competing with other teachers in order to receive DTR. Collaboration not competition is imperative in education.

 

Administrators can statistically figure out how to rate the teacher’s observations low at the beginning of the year and then score them higher at the end to make them as a principal look good and show “growth”. It is a numbers system and more and more administrators have figured out how to play the numbers into their favor.