Creating Consistency: The Importance of T-TESS Calibration

Educators working on calibration together.

The Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) is a comprehensive framework designed to assess and improve teaching practices in schools across Texas. T-TESS provides appraisers and teachers with a rubric to support the development of a common language of instructional practices that best support student growth. Furthermore, there are many steps districts, appraisers, and teachers should take to ensure a fair, consistent, and beneficial experience. Within the heart of those steps lies the crucial calibration element among appraisers.

Districts applying for the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) funds are likely aware of the importance of calibration in the TIA approval process. This is because Success Factor Four in the TIA Readiness Checklist requires a strongly calibrated teacher observation system. Within this section, districts need to ensure appraisals are reliable across campuses, a strong correlation between teacher observation levels and student growth data, and conduct a district review of teacher observation trends.

The Power of T-TESS Calibration

In the context of T-TESS, calibration involves aligning the understanding of the rubric with the application of evaluation criteria among different appraisers. Let’s take a look at the key benefits of calibration in the T-TESS framework:

Get a free copy of our Observation Calibration Scripting Template to use with your team!

Ensures Consistency and Reliability of Evaluation

Calibration guarantees consistency in evaluations by ensuring all appraisers share a common understanding of T-TESS criteria, offering teachers a fair and standardized assessment. Furthermore, a well-calibrated T-TESS system builds confidence among stakeholders in the campus community.

Promotes Fair and Objective Assessments

In a calibrated T-TESS system, appraisers approach evaluations with a shared perspective, mitigating the risk of bias. This fosters an environment where teachers feel confident their assessments are fair, objective, and reflective of their actual performance in the classroom. Once trust is established, teachers can shift their focus inward for self-reflection on their practices and the data presented.

Facilitates Professional Development and Collaboration

Calibration is a catalyst for effective professional development. When appraisers are calibrated, the feedback provided to teachers becomes more actionable. This, in turn, empowers educators to engage in purposeful development aligned with T-TESS standards.

Additionally, calibration among T-TESS appraisers is a transformative practice that elevates the teacher evaluation process. The benefits of calibration are reliability, fairness, professional development, collaboration, and trust. As districts embrace the power of calibration within the T-TESS framework, they unlock the potential for continuous improvement, self-reflection, and agency for growth. Furthermore, these elements create a culture of excellence that positively impacts teachers, students, and the broader educational community.

Calibration Resources and Support

One recommended practice is for teams of appraisers and teachers to conduct Calibration Observations. See the document download provided by the TEA that outlines the Calibration Observation Protocol and some recommended practices when doing these walks. Check out our FREE Observation Calibration Scripting Template that you and your team can use to document your notes and observations during calibration observation walks. 

Finally, if you want additional information on how to support calibration efforts within your district, check out Calibration Resources on the T-TESS website or contact ESC Region 13 or your local service center for support. At Region 13, contact Esperanza Alderete at or 512-919-5278.

Natalie is an Educator Evaluation and Leadership Administrative Specialist at ESC Region 13.

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