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Professional Judgement in Instruction

How many times have you been dinged by an appraiser on a walk-through or observation report because you are not on the exact day in the scope and sequence and/or not following exactly what is on your lesson plan?  Those days are in the past.  New legislation and an existing appellate court decision allow teachers to use their professional judgement when it comes to instruction and the needs of their students.

DEVIATION FROM SCOPE AND SEQUENCE

New legislation, HB 4310, places the control back into the hands of teachers.  The new law guarantees that a teacher may not be penalized for not following the adopted scope and sequence based on the teacher’s determination that their students need more or less time in a specific area.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE  Section 28.0027 – DISTRICT CURRICULUM SCOPE AND SEQUENCE

Section added by House Bill 4310 – Effective 6/14/2019

(a)  In adopting a recommended or designated scope and sequence for a subject in the required curriculum under Section 28.002(a) in a particular grade level, a school district shall ensure sufficient time is provided for teachers to teach and students to learn the essential knowledge and skills for that subject and grade level.

(b)  Except as provided by Subsection (c), a school district may not penalize a teacher who does not follow a recommended or designated scope and sequence for a subject in the required curriculum under Section 28.002(a) in a particular grade level based on the teacher’s determination that the teacher’s students need more or less time in a specific area to demonstrate proficiency in the essential knowledge and skills for that subject and grade level.

(c)  A school district may take appropriate action with respect to a teacher for conduct described by Subsection (b) based on documented evidence of a deficiency in classroom instruction obtained through observation or substantiated and documented third-party information.

Deviations from Lesson Plans

An existing appellate court decision, Chesshir v. Sharp, also returns control of instruction to teachers.  This decision allows teachers to change lesson plans at a moment’s notice to meet the needs of the students.


TEXAS EDUCATION CODE – CHESSHIR V. SHARP, No.07-99-0370-CV

Text from the  appellate court decision – April 12, 2000

As to the matter of when the project was initially contemplated,

(1) we find it utterly unreasonable to suggest that ideas cannot be implemented in the classroom merely because they were divined shortly before implementation. We know of no authority so holding and refuse to be the first to so hold.

(2) Nor do we care to hold that teachers can only teach that which is written in lesson plans created days earlier. Indeed, classrooms are inherently the incubator of rapidly developing thought.

(3) To place time restrictions on when the thought and implementation of ideas can occur would be to unduly restrict a teacher’s ability to educate and a student’s ability to learn.

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