Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

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Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS)


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To access Arkansas Teacher Excellence & Support System 2017 (TESS) Update Resources, please visit the following links:

The Arkansas Teacher Excellence & Support System provides a statewide system for observation and support of K-12 teachers. TESS, which is the result of Act 1209 of 2011, has been substantially changed for greater school and district flexibility while maintaining the essential framework for professional support and development. These amendments account for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) flexibility and enhanced accountability to ensure that all students have access to effective teachers.

ESSA requires that states ensure that low-income and minority students are not taught at disproportionate rates by ineffective teachers and requires states to develop a definition for ineffective teacher. Without a system to support, develop and identify levels of effectiveness, the state will have difficulty meeting the federal requirement. Also, without TESS, there is no legislation to ensure teachers receive support through mentoring or personalized professional development. This legislation also ensures a system of support and development (and quality) for school administrators, who are key to ensuring teacher and student success.

Some of the benefits from the update (Act 295 of 2017) to the TESS Statute for Arkansas educators are:

  • Teachers include those who are licensed or nonlicensed, and working in school districts of innovation, charter schools, or Act 1240 schools.  
  • New definitions are incorporated for evidence, direct observation, indirect observations, artifacts, and data.
  • Flexibility allows local decisions as a basis for many practices which were once established at the statewide level including observation and evidence gathering protocols.
  • Although they may remain as district policy, Overall Annual Performance Ratings for all educators are no longer required. A summative performance review every four (4) years on all components of the Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching is required.

ESSA describes an effective teacher as one who, through training and experience, (more than 3 years of teaching) exemplifies the state’s teaching standards, as demonstrated by consistently high-performance ratings within a state-approved support system that includes multiple measures of student growth embedded in the TESS work. An effective educator: 

  • Consistently plans and prepares to meet the needs of each learner
  • Creates an environment most conducive for learning while using the most highly effective instructional practices
  • Communicates and collaborates effectively with all stakeholders
  • Seeks continual professional growth
  • Exhibits ethical professional practice

Arkansas teacher performance is documented according to these attributes through the TESS Rubric based on Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. TESS provides a statewide shared vocabulary and understanding for instructional practices, which will best meet the learning and growth possibilities for every Arkansas student.

TESS exemplifies the best outcomes when educators work together to accomplish common goals. TESS encourages those new to the profession by ensuring understanding of effective practice. TESS provides for professional and sustained improvement for career classroom and specialty teachers. Arkansas TESS – Teacher Effectiveness: Student Success.

Arkansas’ online site for educator observation and performance data is BloomBoard’s observation tool, EdReflect. 

EdReflect supports the growth of Arkansas educators by providing:

  • A calendar for collaboration and observation
  • A scheduling tool for meetings, observations and artifacts
  • An email notification system
  • Chat features
  • A system to label evidence according to rubric components
  • A collection system for quick reference of evidence and ratings sustained each year
  • The ability to word process with text edit features
  • Work status and reminders
  • A video observation system
  • An end of year rating calculators

Arkansas schools make use of EdReflect features such as insight reports to guide the work of administrators supporting classroom and specialty educators.



For more information, please contact:

Becky Gibson, Educator Support & Development Advisor
Arkansas Department of Education
Office of Educator Effectiveness
Four Capitol Mall, Room 401-B
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: 501-683-3160
Fax: 501-682-5118

State Standards

Learn more about the standards that define the knowledge and skills Arkansas students should have in order to be ready for college and careers.

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