TESS Data Suggests Focus on Discussion, Assessments

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. All ATC fellows have two formal observation and evaluation cycles with us each year. These evaluations are based on the Arkansas Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) rubric. 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.

We set a goal that our teachers will grow by an average of 0.25 points on a 4.0 scale from the beginning of the year to the end. We are very excited to see that from last spring to this fall, our 2019 fellows have grown by an average 0.16 points to 2.71 / 4.00. Our 2020 fellows remained at an average of 2.59 / 4.00 from last year to this year.  

Across our corps, we found that our fellows had the greatest strengths in Domain 2: Classroom Environment and Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities. Our fellows had the lowest scores overall in Domain 1: Planning and Preparation and Domain 3: Instruction. In particular, 3.b Using Questioning Prompts and Discussion and 1.f Designing Student Assessments were our fellows lowest strands. 

Based on ATC TESS evaluations from fall 2021, 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.

For our spring regional workshops, we were already planning to focus on discussion techniques and formative assessments. After reviewing this TESS data we have decided to continue on that plan. However, we have also noticed that our fellows need a lot of support with emotional resilience this year. For that reason, we have been working on a series that combines discussion techniques and assessments with work on resilience.

Our regional workshop for January covered verbal discussion techniques in response to Chapter 8: Cultivate Compassion from Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators by Elena Aguilar. As we progress through this year we will continue to meld teaching fundamentals with our emotional resilience work.

Strategies for using questioning and discussion (3b) 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 https://danielsongroup.org/what-we-do/framework-teaching