Identifying Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Mississippi does not require that objective evidence of student learning be the preponderant criterion of its teacher evaluations.
Mississippi requires local districts to evaluate teachers using a uniform statewide teach evaluation instrument (Mississippi Teacher Appraisal System), which is designed to measure teachers' success in meeting the state's Teacher Performance Standards. Four of the six standards relate to effective classroom instruction; however, the indicators that support these standards are focused more on teacher behaviors and less on evidence that teachers are promoting student learning. Besides classroom observations and teacher interviews, the evaluation includes limited use of a teacher-submitted portfolio.
Mississippi Teacher Appraisal System Training Materials http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/ACAD/ist/evaluation_instruments/Teacher_Appraisal_Training_Materials.pdf
Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
Although Mississippi considers limited measures of student learning in its teacher evaluations, 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 Mississippi 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, Mississippi 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.
Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is in the process of developing a common teacher evaluation system that has student achievement as an integral part of the system. The model is in the final stages of editing and should be completed this fall. It will then be submitted to the board for approval. The model will include the following multiple rating categories: unsatisfactory, developing/emerging/basic/proficient, effective and highly effective/distinguished, within a matrix that will focus on the quality of instruction. Mississippi plans to pilot the new evaluation system during the 2011-2012 school year.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.