From PDAS to T-TESS : a single descriptive case study of public-school principals and their experiences with the practicality of implementing T-TESS as intended.


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In an embattled profession, principals have numerous responsibilities, including the pressure to improve test scores to meet state and federal accountability measures. To achieve increased test scores, they lead and support instruction by improving teacher efficacy and development that positively impacts student learning. A principal’s job requires the ability to demonstrate competence, knowledge, and leadership (Dowd, 2018; Fuller & Young, 2009). This single descriptive case study addressed the wealth of data about principals’ multiple duties and responsibilities in large districts with diverse populations and needs. Additionally, it brought light to the number of teachers appraised using the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) compared to the number of appraisers on a campus. This case study also described the historical evolution of evaluation instruments in Texas, the rationale for changing evaluation instruments, and, through the lens of three principals, their firsthand experiences related to the practicality in implementing the T-TESS. The study critically evaluated three school principals (one elementary, one middle, and one high school) who serve within one of the largest school districts in southwest Texas. It established the connection between the practicality of implementing the T-TESS while also meeting the other demands of the position. The researcher used qualitative techniques to analyze the three cases through interview responses that documented the principals’ experiences. To analyze the data, the researcher applied coding techniques (Saldaña, 2015). This research answered the following central research question: How do public-school principals describe the practicality in implementing the T-TESS evaluation instrument as intended? All three participants described T-TESS as practical; however, the three shared the need for consistent, systematic, and frequent district level support. The study, conducted to examine principals’ experiences in implementing T-TESS, provided educators with three main conclusions. First, it brought awareness to state and local leadership related to the practicality of implementing T-TESS. Second, this research discussed how district-level leaders could help support principals who use the T-TESS as the annual evaluation instrument. Finally, the study provided detailed information that can assist state and local leadership in rethinking teacher evaluation policies.



Evaluation instrument. Appraiser. Professional development. Consistent feedback. Intended purpose. Teaching. Learning.