Accelify Blog

Houston Teachers Unions Want New Evaluation Plan Overhauled (TX)

April 15, 2011

Houston Independent is set to become one of a handful of Texas school districts to move away from the state-approved method of teacher evaluation. Its teachers unions are threatening a lawsuit if the change goes through, reports. The new plan will require four classroom visits by an appraiser who will then share feedback and advice with the teacher based on those visits. The appraiser will also count students’ standardized test scores for roughly half of the teacher’s final rating. Current guidelines only call for only a single class observation.

The Houston Federation of Teachers has announced that it’s not opposed to the idea of an overhaul of the evaluation system, but thinks that the new approach needs more assessment.

Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said she is prepared to ask the Texas education commissioner to invalidate the new appraisal but will hold off if the board decides to test the system at some schools next year rather than roll it out district-wide.

Chuck Robinson, president of another Houston teachers’ union, the Congress of Houston Teachers, points out that contrary to state law, the district didn’t do enough to solicit teacher input when designing the new system. Texas districts can not use a system that differs from state guidelines without first consulting both teachers and parents.

However, Ellen Hur, who is a partner with The New Teacher Project, one of the groups that collaborated with HISD on the new evaluation process, said that the district surveyed more than 2,600 teachers, administrators and parents during its six-month the design phase:

    “I can tell you with full confidence that this system you’re seeing now was not cooked up in some room at (the district’s central office) Hattie Mae White or bought off some shelf. Every piece of feedback – and there were thousands – was recorded and considered to build this system.”