Years ago, Dallas ISD replaced the typical teacher salary system with a new program. The Teacher Excellence Initiative, or TEI, changes teachers’ salaries based on their students’ performance and learning success. The system ranks teachers, with the more talented being recognized and distributed across schools that could use their help.
TEI states that their program “… seeks to identify, encourage, and reward effective teachers by prioritizing and supporting academic excellence through professional development and comprehensive review.”
Texas has recently made amendments to the education sector, passing bills requiring failing students to study with a tutor. Bill HB 4545, passed by the Texas legislature in May of 2021, was created to establish “a strong foundations grant program and provid[e] accelerated instruction for students who fail to achieve satisfactory performance on certain assessment instruments.”
Not everyone loves the new program, however. In January 2020, the Supreme Court viewed a case of grievances by Texas teachers who received pay cuts. NEA Dallas President Delna Bryan said, “We’re not afraid of being evaluated. But when you evaluate us, do not tie our salary to scores that you know, and you can manipulate each summer to suit you. And we wind up losing money.”
The Dallas TEI program is another effort to even the playing field and provide teachers with proper recognition. According to the TEI “three-step process,” teachers are first ranked by how well their students test on critical assessments. A bell curve is created to put equal amounts of teachers in each category. That ranking then determines the teacher’s salary, and better teachers can get moved to lower-scoring schools.
TEI has reduced the 43 failing Dallas ISD campuses to only 8. Dallas Morning News reports on behalf of Dallas ISD, “93% of teachers who received the lowest possible rating two years earlier had either left DISD or improved their rating.”