Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy
The state should ensure that teachers receive feedback about their performance and should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Evaluation Feedback: Mississippi requires that each teacher has pre- and post-observation conferences with his or her evaluator to discuss strengths and areas that need improvement based on observations.
Professional Development: Mississippi's guidelines specify that all teachers "receive professional development and support designed to address any area(s) identified for growth." Teachers receiving a rating of distinguished receive "professional development linked to specific areas to ensure they have the support they need to continue to grow and develop their skills."
Improvement Plans: Mississippi requires that any teacher rated unsatisfactory receives "immediate and comprehensive professional development and support designed to address the identified area(s) for growth."
Evaluation Rating Categories: Mississippi requires four performance levels: distinguished, effective, emerging and unsatisfactory.
Mississippi Code Sec. 37-18-7 Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards 2012 http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/docs/accreditation-library/revised-10-9-12-2012-stds.pdf?sfvrsn=2 Professional Growth System: http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/docs/cte/pgs-teacher-growth-rubric-guidebook-2017-2018_20171114.pdf?sfvrsn=2
Ensure that teachers receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
Mississippi should strengthen its policy and require an improvement plan for any teacher whose performance is in need of improvement, not just those in the lowest performance category.
Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
7D: Linking Evaluation to Professional Growth
Professional development should be connected to needs identified through teacher evaluations. The goal of teacher evaluation systems should be not just to identify highly effective teachers and those who underperform but to help all teachers improve. Even highly effective teachers may have areas where they can continue to grow and develop their knowledge and skills. Rigorous evaluations should provide actionable feedback on teachers' strengths and weaknesses that can form the basis of professional development activities. Too often professional development is random rather than targeted to the identified needs of individual teachers. Failure to make the connection between evaluations and professional development squanders the likelihood that professional development will be meaningful.
Many states are only explicit about tying professional development plans to evaluation results if the evaluation results are bad. Good evaluations with meaningful feedback should be useful to all teachers, and if done right should help design professional development plans for all teachers—not just those who receive poor ratings.
To further increase the utility and validity of evaluation systems, states should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance rather than only giving binary satisfactory/unsatisfactory ratings. Binary rating systems often offer little meaning because virtually all teachers receive satisfactory ratings. More rating categories allow for more nuanced distinctions between levels of teacher performance.