The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Missouri does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
The state requires local districts to formulate performance-based teacher evaluation instruments, for which the state provides comprehensive guidelines, including descriptors of the performance standards as well as model evaluation forms. Teachers are evaluated under six standards ranging from managing student behavior to causing students to learn. The evaluation process holds teachers accountable for observed measures of student learning and seeks limited examples of such, including student portfolios, but it does not go as far as to encourage the specific use of objective measures, such as standardized tests. Classroom observations are required.
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Missouri considers limited measures of student learning in its teacher evaluation, it falls short by failing to require that evidence of student learning be the most significant criterion. The state should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion, or it should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. This can be accomplished by requiring objective evidence to count for at least half of the evaluation score or through other scoring mechanisms, such as a matrix, that ensure that nothing affects the overall score more. Whether state or locally developed, a teacher should not be able to receive a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
Ensure that classroom observations specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
Although Missouri commendably requires classroom observations as part of teacher evaluations, the state should articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.
Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, Missouri should require districts to utilize multiple rating categories, such as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.
Missouri asserted that it adopted a model set of Teacher and Leader Standards in June 2011. Standards include quality indicators articulated across a professional continuum, and a rubric has been developed for each. Indicators have been clustered into three frames that include professional commitment, professional practice and professional impact. Each frame draws from multiple sources of evidence to determine the educator's status on the continuum for any particular indicator. Sources of evidence include a wide variety of measures of student learning, particularly in the professional impact frame.
Missouri added that it will conduct extensive field testing in a pilot project this year to refine this performance assessment system before widespread release next summer. While it will be offered as a model system, the state has the expectation that districts will "meet or exceed" the model system.