Review of TESS Data Says Focus on Engagement

The ATC Teacher Development Team completed the remainder of fall TESS evaluations in January and has now set a direction for PD and coaching this spring. To better support our fellows in maintaining rigorous learning in the virtual classroom, development will focus on TESS 1e: Designing Coherent Instruction and 3c: Engaging Students in Learning.

The fall TESS evaluations are the first of two official evaluations ATC coaches conduct with all of our fellows each year. Teachers submit a classroom video and teaching artifacts, self-reflect using the TESS rubric, and then meet with their coach to discuss their overall ratings and next steps. This year, we also used Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for <Remote> Teaching to help our fellows with more concrete ideas around where they could improve while teaching virtually.

Looking at the data.

After reviewing our corps-wide TESS data from the fall cycle, we determined that we have a strength as a corps in Domain 2: Classroom Environment and Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities.  We believe that our strength in these domains come from a strong foundation at summer institute that focuses heavily on classroom culture, combined with some training that we did last fall regarding how to transition culture to a virtual classroom.

Our biggest opportunities for growth are Domains 1: Planning and Preparation and Domain 3: Instruction.  We believe that overall this need for growth is caused by teacher struggles in planning and execution as they have transitioned to a virtual or hybrid classroom model. This transition has been particularly challenging for planning rigorous learning, designing meaningful assessments, and implementing strategies for student engagement.

Based on ATC TESS evaluations from fall 2020, Domain 2: Classroom Environment and Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities are areas of strength, whereas Domain 1: Planning and Preparation and Domain 3: Instruction present opportunities for growth. TESS evaluations were conducted by ATC coaches based on a recorded lesson, lesson/unit plans, and student work. Fellow ratings in each TESS competency were coded 1=Ineffective, 2=Progressing, 3=Effective, 4=Highly Effective and averaged across all fellows. To create a visual dashboard, colors were applied using conditional formatting based on the average rating where satisfactory ratings are green and the lowest acceptable ratings are red. For novice teachers (those with 0-3 years of teaching experience), this often means a range of averages between 2.00 and 3.00.

Adjusting our practice.

As a result moving forward, the Teacher Development Team will focus primarily on development around 1e: Designing Coherent Instruction and 3c: Engaging Students in Learning. These were two of the lowest competencies from our fall TESS data, and two competencies that we believe may be leading to lower performance across the rest of domains 1 and 3.  We will be looking to see an increase in scores in these two areas at the end of the year in the Spring TESS evaluation.

To get there, we will focus on these two competencies explicitly during coaching observations. We will be using the virtual coaching platform Edthena for classroom feedback this spring which will allow our coaches to mark exact places in fellows’ lessons where they could be using an engagement technique (3c). Additionally, we will ask fellows to upload their lesson plans so we can see how they are planning for engagement in their lessons (1e).

We will also be shooting for growth in TESS 1e and 3c throughout professional development with fellows. Our coaches led professional development in January around creating a strong vision for classroom engagement, including a virtual setting. Regional workshops in February will lead fellows in reflecting on the current state of student engagement in their classroom with follow-up workshops in March and April focused on planning for student engagement and incorporating engagement strategies.

Strategies for engaging students in learning (3c) from the Danielson Group’s Framework For Remote Teaching. Based on the 2013 Framework For Teaching, this guide has recommendations for supporting remote learning during the 2020-21 school year prioritize educator and student wellbeing, equity, and racial justice. Available online at