The Effect of Principal-Teacher Familiarity and Student FRL on TIA Classroom Observation Scores: A Multi-level Analysis

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Standards-based classroom observations are vital to high-stakes teacher evaluation systems in Texas. Texas school districts use comprehensive teacher evaluation systems to implement the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA). School districts implementing the Teacher Incentive Allotment use high-stakes teacher ratings to reward, retain, and recruit teachers. Therefore, identifying contextual factors that can influence teacher observation ratings, which are central to these systems, has come to the forefront of the teacher evaluation policy discussion. This quantitative study investigates a proxy for principal-teacher familiarity bias and student socioeconomic status as sources of bias in teacher classroom observation scores. This study uses a Texas district dataset to explore whether principal-teacher familiarity and students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch are associated with classroom observation scores. Conducting this study with Texas school district data is opportune because Texas implemented the Teacher Incentive Allotment in 2019. Data utilized for the study includes 879 teachers across 41 schools from a mid-size Texas school district that implemented the Teacher Incentive Allotment beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. This study offers indirect measures of the potential principal-teacher familiarity bias in evaluation practices. In addition, the study provides measures of potential bias in teacher evaluation scores. The result of this analysis provides evidence that Texas education policymakers may use to reform policy at the state and district level to guide Texas school districts in addressing contextual factors by taking into account the impact of student FRL and principal-teacher familiarity on high-stakes classroom observation scores.

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Teacher Evaluation, Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS), Student Free or Reduced-price Lunch (FRL)