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Deadline Looms For Dallas ISD's Teacher Evaluation Plan

Bill Zeeble
Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles says he wants to reward teachers based on outstanding performance.

Dallas teachers are nearing a key deadline in the evaluation system that Superintendent Mike Miles introduced this fall. He wants to reward teachers based on outstanding performance, not years served or advanced college degrees. That’s raised hackles among teacher organizations.

Miles says about 1,400 teachers are eligible to apply for the Distinguished Teacher Review process. The payoff for a high rating could mean thousands more dollars a year. Miles says the goal is to put great teachers in front of every student.

“We want this to be a profession where we can compete with others to get the best and brightest out of college," Miles says. "We know we have to pay higher salaries to do that. So money isn’t the main driver. But it’s important to have a high salary to attract talent.” 

David Lee, with Dallas’ largest teacher group, the Alliance AFT, is skeptical. He says teachers aren’t opposed to accountability, but he calls the new system both burdensome and unfair.

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
David Lee, with the largest teacher organization in Dallas, the Allliance AFT, is wary of Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles' plan to assess teachers.

“The teachers in Dallas ISD are doing more now than they ever have," Lee says. "I think there’s an issue of trust. At least a significant percentage of the district’s teachers don’t trust this process to be a fair and equitable evaluation of their ability and performance."

Southern Methodist University Education Dean David Chard says fairness is the challenge that Miles faces with any new teacher evaluation plan.

“If it’s not sensitive enough to change as a result of teacher efforts, then it will very quickly be deemed to be unfair. And certainly nobody wants that,” Chard says.

Miles believes his teacher review plan will hold up over time and lead to improved academic outcomes a year or two down the road. Dallas teachers have until Jan. 22, 2015 to apply for the Distinguished Teacher Review.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.