Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

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Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS)





Arkansas Teacher Excellence & Support System Update Resources

Summer 2017



TESS 2.0

Arkansas Teacher Effectiveness

Created for:

Novice Teachers

“An introduction to TESS through Arkansas ESSA”

(Previously TESS: Law & Process)


ADE Educator Support & Development Update


Created for:

Career Educators

“Next generation of TESS & LEADS: includes Vision of Excellence, Arkansas ESSA & TESS Statute”


ADE Educator Support & Development Update


Training Facilitator Guide





The Arkansas Teacher Excellence & Support System is in existence as a result of Act 1209 of 2011. Arkansas TESS provides a statewide system for observation and support of K-12 Classroom and Specialty Teachers. TESS has been substantially changed for greater school and district flexibility while maintaining the essential framework for professional support, growth, and evaluations. These amendments are based on feedback from multiple stakeholders, including the Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee (TEAC) and sub-committees of TEAC members and constituent group stakeholders. They are also reflective of feedback obtained from recommendations from the Southern Region Educational Board’s (SREB’s) focus group sessions conducted in May 2015 and again in December 2016 with Arkansas educators. The amendments account for ESSA flexibility and enhanced accountability to ensure that all students have access to effective teachers.

ESSA requires that states ensure that states ensure that poor 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 to the Arkansas Teacher Excellence and Support System Statute for Arkansas educators (Act 295 of 2017 - Law eff. 8/1/2017; Rules – estimated final by 12/31/2017) are:

  • Teacher’ will now include those 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 will now allow 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 evaluation every four (4) years on all components of the evaluation framework is required.

The Arkansas Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) describes an EFFECTIVE Teacher as one who through training and experience exemplifies the state’s teaching standards, as demonstrated by consistently high-performance ratings within a state-approved evaluation and 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. An effective educator creates an environment most conductive for learning while using the most highly effective instructional practices. The professional educator is effective through communicating and collaborating effectively with all stakeholders and seeks continual professional growth. Effective teachers exhibit 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 so much. 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. It has been used statewide since fall 2014.

EdReflect supports the growth of Arkansas Educators by providing a Calendar for collaboration and Observation; a schedule Tool for Meetings, Observations, 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; provided work status and reminders; Video observation system; and End of year Rating Calculators.

Arkansas schools make use of EdReflect Premium Features such as Insight reports to guide the work of administrators supporting classroom & specialty educators.

EdReflect is flexible and supportive of the requirements for each instructional implementation design in Arkansas schools.  Continued use of EdReflect provides a user-friendly, adjustable system for targeting and building on student-focused learning, the target the work of all Arkansas educators.

For more information, please contact:

Becky Gibson, Teacher & Leader Support Program 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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Licensure & Certification

Find critical information about renewing Arkansas educator licenses, adding areas of licensure, licensing by reciprocity from other states, background checks and more.

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ESEA Flexibility

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