Contract Matters: Teacher Growth and Development System

TGDS: The End is the Beginning?

After spending 3 years piloting TGDS through 1 year Memorandums of Understanding (MOU), it seemed a sure thing that district teachers were going to be able to be evaluated with some version of the system for this school year.  That did not happen.

The Issues:

The union had a list of considerations for agreeing to an official version of TGDS (see page 2), one of them being that Special Education teachers, nurses, counselors and Early Childhood teachers would need to continue to develop and use specialized rubrics in pilot mode. The OEA Bargaining Team discussed additional issues around securing proper funding for TGDS in their latest bargaining update (page 2) .

The district wanted to get TGDS out of pilot mode and used as the official evaluation system. A major reason the district pushed for an end to all pilots is that without a permanent system, Oakland could have been considered out of compliance with CA Ed Code Article 11 on Evaluation.

The Decision

In June, negotiation around this MOU came to an end, as neither side could reach an agreement. This year, while contract negotiations continue, educators will be evaluated using the tools of the old system, and will have the option to use some parts of TGDS like goal setting.

As a former special education teacher with direct experience being observed with both the TGDS pilot system and previous evaluation tools, I agree that there should be some extension or modification for teachers in certain special education settings. I do not, however, think that reverting to the old system was the best solution. Although burdensome to some, the TGDS system had teachers develop professional growth goals and then evaluated them with an extremely detailed rubric. TGDS offered much more support and guidance to teachers than this scoring sheet from the old system.

District officials have indicated that this is not the end of TGDS, but a pause that will allow for a more detailed study of the system and the funding needed to implement it effectively. According to an email from the union on June 4, 2016, only 210 members responded to a survey on TGDS last spring, about 9% of union members.  This means the vast majority did not give direct input on this issue.

This year, the union and the district should gather input from a much larger number of educators in order to make this year’s pause effective.

What Can You Do?

Ask your school site union rep to pass along your thoughts on TGDS at the next Representative Council Meeting on Monday, September 11th from 4-6:30 pm at Bret Harte Middle School. You can also directly email the union bargaining team at and the OUSD Director of Labor Strategy, Jenine Lindsey, at

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