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  • Writer's pictureCEPE

Open Letter to Dallas ISD

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

Public education parents and advocates, we have a real opportunity to affect positive change for the students in Dallas ISD. With the pause across the state on STAAR standardized testing, this is the perfect opportunity for DISD to adopt an alternate teacher evaluation system. Please join CEPE in encouraging DISD to make this long overdue policy change. Send a copy of the letter below, or a message of your own, and ask the district to stop excessive standardized testing and to replace the test score focused Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI) with former Trustee Audrey Pinkerton's proposal (below). Send to: (President of the Board of Trustees) (Superintendent of Dallas ISD) (Chief of Human Capital Management or HCM)


Dear President Henry, Superintendent Hinojosa and Dr. Wilson,

I want to congratulate you and the District on the passing of the Resolution on the Commitment of Dallas ISD to Black Students and Black Lives. As you move forward and begin strategic planning for impactful change, I encourage you to consider including meaningful changes to the Teacher Excellence Initiative, TEI. 

As you know, standardized test results are largely a reflection of family income. Thus paying teachers based on those test results promotes inequity by:

- motivating teachers to teach to the test (not to be confused with teach to the standards), and

- robbing the most vulnerable children of the very intent of public schools - the opportunity for authentic learning and to develop critical thinking skills.

In addition to the above reasons, much data has shown that TEI does not work as intended, because the value-added model is not capturing what we think of as good teaching. This fact has been heavily underscored by research from Dallas ISD’s own classrooms.

Aside from the lack of reliability of TEI’s value-added, the costly teacher turnover is also highly disruptive. With turnover averaging 20% since TEI, I encourage you to ask what is the financial, emotional, and institutional price being paid?

Even if STAAR occurs next year, TEI won’t be possible 2020-2021 due to the loss of predictive ability sans this year’s STAAR scores. (DISD TEI Rulebook pg 60 V6, Sept. 13, 2019) Replacing the STAAR component with an alternate standardized test such as Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) as you've suggested, simply continues test focused inequity.

And finally, as this Reform model of teacher accountability has not improved outcomes, a significant number of states (and districts) are reversing course with value-added models.

As one alternative, please consider reviewing the proposed teacher evaluation system by former Trustee Audrey Pinkerton that can be found with Suzy Smith in HCM. It is based on sound performance management strategies and allows for differentiated pay.

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