Completed Projects 2012-2017

TXCC will partner with Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) to support TEA's development and implementation of project-based curricula for a coherent sequence of 4 CTE courses. Anticipated project duration: Spring 2013–Summer 2017.

The Need

In the 2015-16 school year, the Texas Education Agency calculated 50 percent of students were considered at risk in Texas, and 59 percent of students were classified as economically disadvantaged. Without additional supports and systems before, during, and outside of the school day to keep these students engaged, they are more likely to drop out. Communities in Schools (CIS) is a dropout prevention program partially funded by the state with statewide coordination through the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The support and assistance provided by this project seeks to strengthen the continuity of dropout prevention services and decrease the dropout rate in Texas.

TXCC Response

TXCC worked with the Texas CIS State Coordinator at TEA to support the 26 CIS Executive Directors to build a community of practice to address identified needs and to share best practices and experiences. In particular, TXCC provided technical assistance to TEA on conducting needs assessments of CIS affiliates, designing affiliate meetings to address needs, and building capacity to identify and communicate data to help affiliates improve effectiveness. TXCC also identified resources that TEA shared with affiliates on effective meeting practices, facilitation, and data visualization.

TXCC will support the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in assessing lessons learned from the two years of implementation of this advanced professional development series for DCSIs who either: (a) were clustered in the state’s priority improvement areas (as determined by the Texas Strategic Alignment Team) or (b) had demonstrated proficiency on core DCSI skillsets and shown the potential for serving in a more dynamic and influential leadership capacity at the regional or state level. In Year 4, 33 DCSIs from around the state participated in the second iteration of the DCSI Academy. The training was grounded in emergent practices in policy analysis, organizational change management, interpersonal communications, and specific needs identified in the field. Information gleaned from this review will allow TEA to plan for future implementation of the model once TEA staffing and priorities are confirmed.

The Need

A systemic approach to school turnaround is fundamental to addressing district systems in need of change and building staff capacity for transformative leadership to scale up the work that advances improved instructional practice and student outcomes at struggling schools. Such integrated processes, structures, and supports enable district and school leaders to bring to fruition what is possible and together rethink, reignite, redesign, and realize successful transformation at various levels of a district. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) contracted with the University of Virginia–School Turnaround Program (UVA-STP) to implement this approach in one district, with the goal of identifying and replicating best practices more broadly in the state.

TXCC Response

TXCC provided technical assistance to support TEA‘s development and implementation of the District Turnaround Leadership Initiative (DTLI) in collaboration with TEA’s contractor, UVA-STP. DTLI resulted in a blueprint for a comprehensive turnaround program for Texas that builds district capacity to support school improvement by strengthening four essential systemic levers: leadership, instructional infrastructure, support and accountability, and talent management. In September 2016, TXCC staff facilitated a meeting with the TEA Core Team and UVA-STP project staff to develop a plan for scaling the tenets of the UVA model statewide.

The Early Warning System (EWS) was originally developed by the National High School Center (NHSC) at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to calculate automatically the high-yield indicators related to dropout. With permission of and in collaboration with the NHSC, the Texas Comprehensive Center (TXCC) at SEDL adapted the EWS to produce a customized database version called the Early Warning Data System (EWDS).

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the TXCC conducted a webinar on the Early Warning Data System (EWDS) on November 12, 2013. Two TXCC staff members and one TEA manager participated in the webinar at SEDL headquarters; two additional TEA staff members, with expertise in the studentGPS™ Dashboards, participated from off site.

Seventeen of Texas’ education service centers (ESCs) either joined the webinar or viewed the recorded broadcast. TXCC staff provided access information for the updated EWDS training material, and several ESCs requested the updated materials on flash drives, which were sent within the week to the requestors. The TEA manager emphasized the need for ESCs to facilitate the transition from the EWDS to the studentGPS™ Dashboards to ensure a seamless change for districts and high schools.

The Need

The state's previous teacher evaluation system did not provide a supportive, continuous focus on instructional growth and had limited impact on improving student learning. Texas also did not have a recommended principal evaluation system, despite findings that school leaders are responsible for as much as 25 percent of the total school effect on student learning[1]. As a result, TEA developed and implemented the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) and the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS) to encourage more frequent, timely, and formative feedback and incorporate multiple indicators of success, including measures of student learning. With both systems going to scale in the 2016-17 school year, TEA requested assistance to support implementation fidelity and ensure alignment with the state’s integrated supports for educator and leader quality.

Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS)

The state's previous teacher evaluation system did not provide a supportive, continuous focus on instructional growth and had limited impact on improving student learning. As a result, TEA developed and implemented the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) to encourage more frequent, timely, and formative feedback and incorporate multiple indicators of success, including measures of student learning. With this system going to scale in the 2016-17 school year, TEA needs assistance to identify additional needs for system improvements that will support implementation fidelity.

Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS)

Until recently, Texas did not have a recommended principal evaluation system, despite findings that school leaders are responsible for as much as 25 percent of the total school effect on student learning (Liethwood, Louis, Anderson, & Walhstrom, 2004). Recognizing the importance of effective principals for improved student outcomes, TEA identified the need for a principal evaluation system informed by research to provide specific feedback and support for school leaders. TEA needs assistance with statewide rollout to ensure that this project is aligned with the state’s needs for integrated supports for educator and leader quality.

TXCC Response

During the initial phase of this project, TXCC assisted TEA in the facilitation of steering committees of educators and stakeholders in revising teacher standards and in developing new evaluation/observation rubrics in collaboration with TEA’s vendors, NIET and McREL. Year 3 and 4 work focused on pilot implementation and rule revision in preparation for full implementation of the new teacher and principal systems. Year 5 work will include supporting TEA during the 2016-17 full implementation of T-TESS and T-PESS by building the Agency's capacity for information gathering to inform needed changes to the systems.

The Need

Research has shown that high-quality expanded learning opportunities (ELO) increase school day attendance and grade promotion. However, few districts and campuses in Texas have sufficient resources to sustain consistent high-quality ELO programs or reach the students who would benefit the most. Many students and families in Texas lack access to high-quality ELO programs, especially in rural and high-poverty areas of the state.

TXCC Response

Legislation passed during the 2013 regular Texas legislative session required the commissioner of education to establish a statewide council to study and make recommendations concerning ELO for public school students. The ELO Council is statutorily required to meet three times per year and to submit a biennial statewide action plan to the governor and legislature with recommendations for improving expanded learning opportunities for public school students in Texas. TXCC assisted the Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff with coordination of the council’s work to inform policymakers and stakeholders about high-quality development and implementation of expanded learning opportunities for public school children, applying knowledge of research and best practices in this area.

The Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability was established by the Texas Legislature following the passage of HB 2804 during the 84th regular session in 2015. The commission is charged with developing recommendations to address:

  • The purpose of a state accountability system and the role of student assessment;
  • Opportunities to assess students in a manner that provides actionable information for parents, educators, and the public; that supports learning activities; that recognizes application of skills and knowledge; that measures student growth toward mastery; and values critical thinking;
  • Alignment of state performance standards with college and career readiness standards in collaboration with the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; 
  • Policy changes necessary to enable a student to progress through subject matter and grade levels on demonstration of mastery; and
  • Policy changes to establish a student assessment and public school accountability system that meets state goals, is community based, promotes parent and community involvement, and reflects the unique needs of each community.

TXCC will work with TEA to support this project by collaboratively developing information on the range of state models of assessment and accountability systems, facilitating presentations to commission members by experts on key topics related to its work. 

The Need

In 2015, the Texas legislature passed HB 4, which established additional state support for high-quality prekindergarten (PreK) programs, including authorization for a grant program and the expansion of early childhood education reporting requirements for Texas public schools. With only one PreK specialist for the entire state at the time, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) turned to TXCC for technical assistance and content expertise on specific requirements, including documentation of how school districts and charter schools are utilizing the High-Quality PreK Grant funds, defining kindergarten readiness, identifying PreK student progress monitoring instruments, and defining family engagement activities for all school districts receiving the High-Quality PreK Grant funding.

TXCC Response

TXCC assisted TEA to meet HB 4 requirements and document implementation progress to the Texas legislature and monitoring agencies as well as to increase effective delivery of prekindergarten services to children in public and charter school PreK programs. TXCC helped TEA with these deliverables and built additional capacity by supporting agency outreach and work with stakeholders.

In May 2013, the Texas Legislature passed H.B. 2012 that requires the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to conduct an audit of the professional development requirements imposed by school districts, the State, and the Federal Government. TXCC will provide technical assistance to TEA by helping develop the audit procedures, assisting with data analysis, identifying areas of duplication, and aiding in the design of the guidance document to school districts regarding high-quality professional development.

The TXCC is collaborating with TEA to create and refine a process for writing and aligning Career and Technical Education (CTE) Educator Standards to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). This process will eventually be used for all of the 16 CTE course clusters.

TXCC will support the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in effectively participating in a large scale, multi-year, federally funded research study with the Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction, and Learning (C-SAIL). This study will include the development and testing of a new intervention designed to support implementation of college- and career-ready (CCR) standards in the classroom and will also help TEA use data-based decision making to improve CCR policies, practices, and supports.

The Need

In accordance with three sections of Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), each state education agency (SEA) is required to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to ensure that all students have equal access to a quality education, regardless of race, ethnicity, or family income. In 2015, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) submitted an equitable access plan to address differences in access to excellent educators experienced by poor and minority students. As noted in the 2015 Texas Equity Plan, “schools with high concentrations of minority students and students living in poverty have higher percentages of inexperienced teachers than schools with low concentrations of those students. Similarly, districts in major urban, suburban, and rural areas had the largest differences in terms of inexperienced teachers and unqualified teachers.”

TXCC Response

Texas has had an equity plan in place since 2005 and has made notable progress in closing equity gaps over the past decade. The 2015 Texas Equity Plan revised and updated the 2012 plan with input from stakeholders in light of new federal guidance as part of ED’s “Excellent Educators for All” initiative. Year 5 TXCC work focuses on assisting TEA with plan implementation and building out supports for local education agencies (LEAs) to develop local equity plans for the 2017-18 school year.

Archived website portal

TXCC is assisting TEA in reviewing and providing feedback on the state's ESEA waiver request application. Specific attention is being given to the organization and presentation of the request, especially regarding its flow and coherence.

In early 2014, the Agency asked the TXCC to convene a steering committee of principals, administrators, and higher education faculty to provide input into the creation of an evaluative rubric correlated with the principal standards and incorporating weighted components, including student learning outcomes. The committee will meet in February, March, and April and is charged with finalizing the rubric and summative guide that will be piloted in 70 districts during the 2014–2015 school year. The TXCC will support this project in collaboration with TEA's external contractor, which will develop and pilot the instruments and provide professional development to staff of participating districts and ESCs.
Project website: Principal Evaluation and Support System »

TXCC will provide technical assistance to support the evolution of the Texas Strategic Alignment Team (TSAT), which is committed to understanding and addressing the tangled web of systemic factors that impact the state’s schools. The initiative will result in a co-constructed portfolio of tools, processes, and human capital that are aligned to support systemic data visualization, analytics, and collective action. TXCC will leverage the knowledge and skills across multiple AIR portfolios in addition to a diverse array of external partners in order to ensure that TSAT priorities are executed with quality and that lessons learned are disseminated broadly.

Sub projects of this project include:

A recent report form the Texas Teaching Commission addressing policy gaps within key areas of the teacher pipeline in Texas. The report provided recommendations on how to improve and align program and practices currently in place. One recommendation was to revise the current (adopted in 1997) standards for teaching practice. Once revised, these standards could support the Texas Education Agency in addressing additional recommendations, including the development of quality standards for teacher preparation programs and redesign of the beginning teacher induction and mentoring system.

Project website: Teacher Evaluation and Support System »

In May 2013, the Texas Legislature passed H.B. 2012 that requires the TEA to provide administrative support to a committee charged with making recommendations to the governor and legislature by January 1, 2015 regarding the improvement of new teacher mentorship programs in Texas. The TXCC will provide technical assistance to the TEA through meeting co-facilitation, responding to requests for specific information on research-based practices and emerging promising practices in the area of teacher mentoring, accessing subject-specific experts, and assisting in developing required reports.