Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

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A Division of the Arkansas Department of Education

Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS)


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About TESS

The Arkansas Teacher Excellence and Support System 

  • Provides a statewide system for observation & support of K-12 classroom and specialty teachers
  • Is being implemented with more flexibility than previously existed because of Arkansas Act 295 of 2017 (Effective August 2017).
  • Meets the requirements of the Arkansas Every Student Succeeds Act (Effective January 2018) through a system to collect documentation created to ensure that low-income and ineffective educators do not teach minority students at disproportionate rates.
  • The Arkansas TESS Rubric is based on Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching and provides a shared vocabulary and understanding of high-impact instructional practices which provide learning and growth possibilities for every Arkansas student
  • Our classroom and specialty educators strive to promote learning and growth for the students and themselves.  Evidence of this work may be seen by multiple measures of student growth on local assessments and statewide tests; in consistent planning and preparing to meet the unique needs of each learner; through a welcoming, caring culture & climate.
  • Respecting that those who are closest to students will make the best decisions to help each of them grow by building on his/her strengths, TESS grants flexibility in local policy and practice; however, TESS does have unalterables in place:
  • ‘TESS Teacher’ includes those licensed or non-licensed and working in schools of innovation, charter schools or Act 1240 schools.
  • TESS evidence includes direct observation, indirect observations artifacts and data from both the observer and the teacher.
  • Reported data is the overall annual performance ratings for Career Summative teachers. (Teachers who have at least three (3) complete years in education, and are placed in a cycle of one (1) year of rating every component in the TESS rubric and three (3) years of self-empowered learning based on a Professional Growth Plan.)
  1. TESS Training Presentation (PDF)
  2. TESS Training Facilitation Guide (PDF)

TESS TALK Tuesday 2019-2020 Resources


For more information, please contact:

Kim Wright, Educator Support and Development Advisor
Arkansas Department of Education
Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Four Capitol Mall, Room 405B
Little Rock, AR 72201
Kelly McLaughlin,  EdReflect Advisor
Arkansas Department of Education
Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Four Capitol Mall, 405 B
Little Rock, AR 72201

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

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