To improve educator effectiveness, Comal ISD pairs continuous feedback with personalized professional development

‘Perform just offers a lot of options to highlight and identify specific things that a teacher can focus on’

Comal Independent School District in Texas has transformed professional development (PD) across the district by personalizing participants’ experiences, while simplifying processes for teachers and administrators.

“We do in-house PD — which we call Comal U — two times in the summer,” said Mandy Epley, executive director of human resources and customer service. “It’s a weeklong professional learning.”

To ensure the weeklong professional learnings are as effective as possible, Comal ISD uses TalentEd Perform — the K-12 education-specific performance management solution.

“Using Perform, we look at performance data for each individual, and we use that to drive their professional development activities,” said Marie Kuehler, director of human resources and customer service. “That’s been a huge tool for our director of professional learning. We’re actually saying, ‘This is where we need help’ and ‘We don’t need to focus on this.’”

Mandy agreed.

“We look at the evaluation data in Perform so the principal can say, ‘I need you to complete this course in Comal U because this is the area in your evaluation where you had the most room to improve,’” she explained.

It’s those actionable insights that principals like best.

“That’s what’s great about Perform: The data it provides,” said Jacqueline Sundt, principal at Specht Elementary School — one of 27 schools in still-growing Comal ISD. “You can see your campus as a whole in kind of a snap shot, and then you can drill it down to the individual person and open up that data, as well. That really helps with determining the professional learning that we’re going to offer.”

In addition to informing professional learning activities, Perform facilitates conversations that lead to performance improvements.

“One of the things I really like about Perform is that during the post conference with a teacher, I’m able to point to the column next to where I scored them that explains the reason I did not score them higher,” Jacqueline said. “I go through that feedback with them and say, ‘This is why you didn’t score ‘accomplished.’ You can use this to set short-term goals for yourself and also to support your long-term goals for next year.’ Perform just offers a lot of options to highlight and identify specific things that a teacher can focus on.”

Comal ISD

And to support improvements in educator effectiveness throughout the year, Comal uses Perform to provide continuous feedback.

“You’re able to affect change early, rather than only having a punitive conversation at the end of the year,” Mandy said. “We really like Perform for that timeliness.”

By pairing continuous feedback with data-based professional development plans, Comal ISD improves teacher effectiveness and classroom instruction for their students.

“It really comes down to student progress,” Mandy said. “We’re identifying gaps and taking steps to eliminate them.”

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