Teacher Retention and Professional Advancement
TxCEE has helped Texas districts grow and retain effective educators through educator evaluation systems and Teacher Collaborative Learning Communities (TCLCs). Since 2013, TxCEE has worked with districts across the state to help them identify effective educators who become Collaborative Learning Leaders (CLLs) using our TEEM strategy that involves multiple measures including student growth and observations of teacher practice. CLLs mentor and support other teachers – leading to higher teacher retention and better student performance.
Below are findings from annual surveys conducted by our evaluation partner, American Institutes for Research (AIR).
Trends in the Use of Evaluation Data
The AIR TSL survey results show that staff in partner schools have positive perceptions about how they use educator evaluation data. Over the past four years, teachers consistently indicate that they use student growth data and evaluator feedback to improve teaching, as well as observation scores to guide professional learning.
To ensure fair and consistent evaluations, ESC 18-TxCEE provided observers with calibration training and support across the grant. As figure 2 illustrates, this approach facilitated an increase in principal confidence to accurately evaluate teachers, guard against score inflation, and identify teacher professional learning opportunities.
2021-22 Perceptions of Professional Learning and Collaborative Learning Communities
After five years of implementing CLCs, teachers continue to have positive perceptions about the process of implementing, collaborating, and reflecting on instructional strategies. AIR’s 2021-22 survey shows that a large majority of teachers feel that CLCs provide opportunities to learn about specific and relevant strategies, support research-based practices, and have clear goals aligned with student learning/instruction (Figure 3).
Figure 3. TSL Year 5 Teacher Perceptions of CLCs
Moreover, principals and CLLs overwhelmingly feel that the teacher CLC process has positively influenced the performance of teachers on their campus (96% and 100%, respectively).
Over the course of the TSL grant, participating campuses improved their performance on the state accountability system. In 2018, 23.6% of campuses reached the top performance indicator of A which increased to 84.6% of campuses in 2022. Figure 4 shows the change in ratings over the course of the TSL grant
*Note: Schools did not receive accountability ratings during 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
2020-2021 Effect of Teacher Collaborative Learning Communities
2020-2021 Effect of CLL Coaching and Support
2020-2021 Professional Advancement
- 80% of Respondents reported having sufficient opportunities to advance professionally within their district
- Teachers reported that CLL roles incentivize them to stay in their district, citing their roles as “a stepping stone to administration roles.”
- 80% of School Leaders reported having sufficient opportunities to advance professionally within their district
TxCEE’s Impact – Case Study
Zeferino Farias Elementary School, PSJA ISD
Leadership Accelerates Student Growth
Farias Elementary serves approximately 600 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade, of which almost 94% are classified as economically disadvantaged and 88% are at risk of dropping out of school (Texas Education Agency [TEA], 2021). Hispanics make up 98.67% of the student population, followed by Caucasians (0.83%) and Asians (0.50%).
Through a 5-year federal Teacher and School Leader Incentive (TSL) grant, the Texas Center for Educator Excellence (TxCEE), provided support to Farias Elementary on TSL strategies, including school leadership, data-informed decision-making (using evaluation and student growth), learning communities, and career pathways. Principals are a major factor influencing student achievement, especially in schools with high percentages of traditionally underserved students, so the support and retention of effective principals must be a central strategy for improving and strengthening our schools.
The TxCEE Principal Mentoring Program equips novice principals through a Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS). This support includes strategies that are aligned with adult learning principles and include coaching, communication, establishing a culture of data use and improvement, and learner-centered instruction, During the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, ESC 18-TxCEE’s Principal Mentor Coordinator provided on-site and virtual support to the Farias Elementary novice principal on reviewing student data, maintaining a positive school culture, implementing strategic operations, and prioritizing self-care.
In 2018, Farias Elementary began utilizing TxCEE’s Texas Educator Excellence Management System (TEEMS) to collect and manage data for hiring, evaluation, and professional learning practices. TEEMS is also used to produce reports that demonstrate interrater reliability and correlations of student growth and evaluations to regularly validate data and monitor progress.
The Farias Elementary administrators used TxCEE’s System for Effective Educators (SEED) to create targeted, personalized strategies for all teachers, campus leaders, and district administrators through tiered collaborative learning communities (CLCs) to align identified needs, strategies, and priorities. Stakeholders identify and use multiple forms of data to drive professional learning and development throughout the school year. In particular, the Campus CLC structure is designed to assist school leaders in effectively leading and modeling the data collection and analysis process, as well as implementation and monitoring of strategies to improve teaching and learning. In coordination with the Collaborative Learning Leader, Ferias administrators designed and consistently implemented Teacher CLCs with fidelity, creating a collaborative environment, and intentionally connecting CLC strategies to the curriculum.
TxCEE TSL field staff provided support to Farias Elementary CLLs and campus leaders on planning for CLCs, utilizing coaching tools, and implementing student field testing to identify student progress. Additionally, TSL field staff implemented The TxCEE Teacher Mentoring Program (formerly the TxCEE Teacher Residency Program), providing an avenue for talented educators to accept an additional leadership role. Mentor Teachers have at least three years of experience in the roles they are supporting, are rated as high performing based on educator observations and student growth measures, and have a similar assignment to their mentee. The TxCEE Teacher Mentoring Program incorporates an MTSS similar to the model for novice principals, but with a focus on building the Mentor Teacher’s practice through coaching and peer collaboration to align with evidence-based practices and the state’s Mentor Program Allotment (MPA).
The 2021 spring TSL survey results show that Farias Elementary teachers value the focus on data-informed practice and collaboration (n=29). Overall, teachers strongly agree/agree that the campus leader has a shared vision for their school (93%), there is an atmosphere of mutual respect among the teachers (96%), and the campus leaders foster a culture that values data-driven professional growth (96%). Moreover, all teachers (100%) indicated that they regularly use data to make instructional decisions. The teachers also indicated that CLC meetings provided them with opportunities to develop quality student growth measures (92%). Outside of CLCs, teachers reported that they received excellent or good quality of one-on-one coaching and support from their CLL (95%), and their teaching practice improved specifically due to the CLL’s support (90%).
Farias Elementary made outstanding gains in Academic Growth between 2017 and 2019. Additionally, Farias earned an “A” rating on Relative Growth based on their performance compared to similar campuses.
Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020-21 STAAR performance across the state declined significantly. However, prior years’ data illustrates the gains the school made in 5th-grade STAAR Reading/ELA and Mathematics compared to the state average, especially for economically disadvantaged students. Despite the decline in 2021 STAAR performance, Farias Elementary made strides in closing the achievement gap between student groups and was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School Winner.
Overall, the findings demonstrate that the district HCMS enhancements have provided Farias Elementary with avenues for professional growth and support for teachers and leaders and led to improved outcomes for high-needs students. The principal demonstrated key practices for successful school leadership by:
(1) developing a shared vision and clearly communicating the connection to teaching and learning,
(2) facilitating a collaborative learning approach through CLCs to grow staff professionally and build trusting relationships,
(3) implementing a distributed leadership approach through the use of CLLs to guide and support instruction, and
(4) monitoring student learning and adjusting instruction accordingly