This project relates to the following ED Priority:

  • Identifying, recruiting, developing, and retaining highly effective teachers and leaders

Related work:
REL Southwest
Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance


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Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System

In 2011 the 82nd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1383, which required the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to establish and administer a comprehensive appraisal system for principals. The following year, the Agency initiated work on new principal standards in collaboration with the Alliance to Reform Education Leadership at the George W. Bush Institute and New Leaders, which worked with a Principal Advisory Committee and other stakeholders to create a draft of the standards for public comment. TEA subsequently incorporated the development of a comprehensive appraisal and professional development system for public school principals into its request to the U.S. Department of Education in September 2013 to waive certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to reduce unnecessary burdens on SEAs and LEAs.

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:
Revising Texas' Educator Evaluation and Support System

Previous Work Updates



The Texas Education Agency convened two groups of practitioners to provide input on revising commissioner’s rules related to teacher and principal evaluation. Teachers, principals, education service center staff, and LEA staffs made up the committees. Each group provided insights and ideas for how to align the revised rules to the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) and the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS), both of which are being piloted for a second year in 2015-2016.


TXCC staff met with the TEA director of educator quality to begin planning for the October stakeholders’ meeting, which TXCC will facilitate to help participants develop recommendations for Chapter 150 of Commissioner’s Rule on principal appraisal. Staff also provided feedback on the expectations for T-PESS trainers, which were incorporated into a proposed trainer agreement.


Following a meeting with TXCC staff, the TEA director of educator quality approved the final version of the TXCC year 4 plan for the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS). In addition to facilitating stakeholder groups to revise appraisal and certification rules, TXCC will support the collection of feedback on the quality of T-PESS trainers and materials, host a leadership Institute for lead trainers to help them develop a high degree of system expertise, and assist TEA in developing a communication plan to support statewide implementation in 2016–2017.


The TXCC team participated in a Texas Education Television Network (TETN) broadcast on the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS) for school districts and education service centers. The director of educator quality at the Texas Education Agency provided an overview of T-PESS in preparation for the second year of the pilot, and a consultant with Region 13 Education Service Center outlined roles and responsibilities of key district and campus staff to ensure successful implementation. TXCC staff documented the session and tracked participant questions and TEA responses.


Region 13 Education Service Center (ESC) conducted a beta test of the Advancing Educational Leadership (AEL) training for new principals, which is replacing the Instructional Leadership Development (ILD) training that has been in place for 17 years. TXCC staff provided critical feedback to Region 13 ESC and to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to inform the next iteration of the materials, which will be used by ESCs in the coming year with aspiring principals. Staff also participated in a teleconference with the ESC contacts for the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System appraisal pilot, sharing notes from the meeting with TEA, Region 13 ESC, and TXCC colleagues working on projects in educator effectiveness.


TXCC staff completed its review of the T-PESS materials for the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and provided its contractor, McREL International, with suggested edits and revisions for consideration prior to the onset of T-PESS training for new pilot districts by Education Service Center (ESC) contacts in May. In light of changes to the principal standards in TAC Chapter 149, which were adopted in late 2013, staff also collaborated with TEA to design and facilitate a meeting of the Principal Standards Review Committee, which convened at SEDL on April 10 to discuss updates to the principal certification standards in section 241.15 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC). The meeting resulted in recommended changes to Commissioner’s rule, which TXCC staff codified and presented to TEA for processing and development of a draft. Finally, staff attended a T-PESS awareness session for educator preparation programs (EPPs) at Region 13 Education Service Center (ESC) and took notes to capture stakeholder questions and TEA answers, which were subsequently shared with the TEA lead for inclusion in a list of frequently answered questions.


To assist TEA with the next phase of development of T-PESS, TXCC staff conducted focus groups with principals and principal appraisers to gather input on potential campus-level measures of student growth and progress. Staff conducted two focus groups each in Weslaco ISD and at Region 17 Education Service Center (ESC) in Lubbock and submitted a report of findings that TEA considered in planning its response to the U.S. Department of Education on the ESEA flexibility waiver for the state. Staff also met with the TEA’s project lead to plan for a separate session in April to review and revise section 241.15 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), which relates to principal certification. TXCC will host this meeting and facilitate a process to help stakeholders identify prospective changes to this section in light of the principal standards in TAC Chapter 149, which were adopted in late 2013. Finally, staff continued to review and edit T-PESS materials to ensure quality and consistency. Edits will be completed in April and will be shared with TEA’s contractor on the project, McREL, to allow time for revisions prior to the onset of T-PESS training by the ESCs in May.


TXCC staff observed the trainings of trainers at Region 1 ESC and Region 4 ESC and provided feedback to TEA and its contractor, McREL International, on the training content and process. Staff also agreed to review and edit the training materials, which are still in beta form, to support continuous improvement for the pilot and ensure quality outcomes for trainers and district staff. In concert with TEA, staff finalized a schedule for focus groups with principals and principal appraisers to gather input on measures for campus-level student growth and progress. Information from these focus groups will be incorporated into the Agency’s ESEA waiver response to the U.S. Department of Education, which is due by March 31, 2015. TXCC also collaborated with TEA to schedule a meeting of the Principal Standards Review Committee in April, which will be convened to improve alignment of standards for principal certification with the principal standards that were updated and adopted late last year by the State Board of Education.


TXCC staff worked with TEA and with four education service centers (ESCs) to schedule focus groups on student growth measures with principals and principal appraisers for February and March. Staff also planned observations of upcoming Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS) trainings of trainers (TOTs) at ESCs to provide critical feedback on content and process to TEA and Region 13 ESC. In addition, staff attended sessions on the new teacher and principal evaluation systems at the TASA Midwinter Conference and participated in a second meeting of stakeholders for the revised Instructional Leadership Development training, which Region 13 ESC is leading. At each of these sessions, staff annotated questions and input from attendees to share with TEA and Region 13 ESC.



In response to a suggestion from TEA to conduct surveys of principals and principal appraisers in pilot districts about measures of student growth and progress, TXCC staff recommended the use of targeted focus groups to help pinpoint those measures with the greatest efficacy for specific grade spans and campus settings. TXCC developed a focus group protocol, that is being reviewed by the Agency and will be used for interviews in up to four education service center regions in February. TXCC staff also participated in the stakeholder meeting for the revised Instructional Leadership Development (ILD) training being developed by Region 13 Education Service Center for TEA and made recommendations to strengthen outcomes for principals and other campus leaders.


In November, TXCC staff assisted TEA by participating in a regularly scheduled call with McREL, the Agency’s contractor, to discuss revisions to materials for the training-of-trainer sessions scheduled for Spring 2015. Staff also participated in a teleconference with ESC contacts for the pilot appraisal project and observed the Mid-Year Conference Webinar hosted by McREL for pilot districts and ESCs. In addition, TEA requested critical feedback on the T-PESS User Manual, which TXCC staff agreed to provide and present at the next team meeting in December.


Staff from Region 13 Education Service Center, TEA, McREL, and the TXCC reviewed and updated the project plan for the T-PESS pilot and discussed next steps for the principal evaluation survey and the focus group protocol. TXCC staff also met twice with TEA to examine issues related to student growth measures that would be applicable for a variety of campus configurations involved in the T-PESS pilot. TXCC agreed to construct a draft information collection form that pilot districts will use to identify the benefits, costs, and challenges among possible student growth measures.


In August, TXCC staff completed observations of the principal evaluation appraiser training sessions for districts piloting the new principal evaluation system. Staff also analyzed participant input and comments from a stakeholder feedback session held by the Texas Education Agency and from a webinar with education service center contacts who are supporting participating districts in the pilot.


TXCC staff assisted TEA in observing appraiser training sessions in the State for districts piloting the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System and for education service centers supporting the project. Staff observed trainings in Regions 1, 10, 12, and 17 and employed a protocol to track questions, identify issues, and provide feedback to TEA and McREL on training content and delivery. TXCC is analyzing data from these sessions to help identify frequently asked questions and issues that TEA can address to ensure an effective launch of the pilot.


The Principal Evaluation and Support System appraiser training launched in June with a beta test that was attended by three principals and by Region 13 Education Service Center staff, TEA, and the TXCC. Participants provided TEA’s contractor, McREL, with critical input on the training design and content, and the TXCC assisted the Agency in collecting and processing this input to refine the proposed model. TXCC staff also developed and tested a protocol for observing the principal appraiser training sessions with the goal of documenting and analyzing participant feedback and helping develop a full set of frequently asked questions for the project. TEA and TXCC worked together to schedule sample observations of the pilot trainings in June and July and continued sharing results to improve rollout of the new system. Finally, TXCC issued nine certificates of continuing professional education (CPE) for members of the Principal Evaluation Steering Committee, which will reconvene in the fall with additional membership to propose rules and guidance for appraising principals.


TXCC staff participated in two conference calls with TEA and McREL during the month to monitor progress in planning for the Principal Evaluation and Support System pilot appraiser training this summer. Staff also facilitated a call between TEA, McREL, and NIET, the Agency’s contractor for the Teacher Evaluation and Support System, to discuss the online portal for appraisers for both systems that will allow for seamless integration and reporting of data during the pilot year. Finally, the TXCC initiated a process to grant continuing professional education units to members of the Principal Evaluation Steering Committee for their work over the past three months.


The third and final meeting of the Principal Evaluation Steering Committee was held at SEDL on April 16-17 in Austin. Steering committee members carefully reviewed and provided feedback on a revised version of the principal evaluation rubric that incorporated suggestions generated during the March meeting. They also made recommendations on evidence to support the evaluation process, ordinal descriptions for performance categories in the rubric, weighting of rubric components, and measures to be included in the summative evaluation process. TXCC staff helped facilitate small group sessions during the meeting that enabled the committee members to focus their attention on the work and recommendations, thereby enabling TEA to secure the input necessary to submit its required ESEA waiver response to the U.S. Department of Education by the May 2 deadline.


The Principal Evaluation Steering Committee met on March 20–21 at SEDL headquarters in Austin to continue crafting a new evaluation and support system for Texas principals. TXCC staff worked with TEA and its contractor, McREL, to plan and design the meeting agenda, facilitate activities with steering committee members, and document work processes and outcomes. Steering committee members began the meeting by learning about McREL’s approach to evaluation and leadership research and reviewing a correlation of the proposed standards for Texas principals to the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) and McREL standards. They then spent the majority of the meeting responding to a “straw man” rubric with the goal of ensuring clarity, consistency, and alignment across standards, elements, and descriptors in this initial draft of an evaluation instrument. A final session introduced members to several approaches to report summative ratings. The committee will consider these approaches as part of the overall principal evaluative framework, and provide input and feedback to TEA during its next meeting on April 16–17.


TXCC staff worked with TEA and Dr. Kerry Moll of Intersection Education to plan and host the first meeting of the Principal Evaluation Steering Committee on February 21 at SEDL headquarters in Austin. Participants in the meeting were acquainted with the purpose of the steering committee, the proposed principal standards for Chapter 49 of the Texas Administrative Code, and examples of rubrics and summative guides from five states. In particular, steering committee members discussed the link between principals' actions and the five proposed standards (Instructional Leadership, Human Capital, Executive Leadership, Establishing School Culture, and Strategic Operations) and applied several guiding principles to their review of other states' evaluation systems (i.e., standards that are few and focused, directly related to student success and adult development, don't attempt to cover everything a principal does, are aligned to teacher development systems, include clear language that differentiates performance, and focus on observable behaviors).

The committee will next meet on March 20–21 in Austin.