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 remained consistent between 2017 and 2019.
Evaluation Feedback: Mississippi requires that prior to the end of the school year, the observer conducts a summative observation conference with the teacher to discuss classroom observations and evidence of teacher's practice.
Professional Development: Mississippi requires that professional growth opportunities are discussed during the summative observation conference.
Improvement Plans: Mississippi does not require improvement plans for teachers rated less than effective. Teachers receiving the lowest evaluation rating "should receive immediate and comprehensive professional learning and support(s) designed to address the identified area(s) for growth."
Evaluation Rating Categories: Mississippi requires four performance levels, Levels 1-4.
Professional Growth System 2018-2019: https://www.mdek12.org/sites/default/files/Offices/MDE/OA/OTL/Teacher%20Center/pgs-teacher_growth-rubric-guidebook2018-2019_20180620110553_869001.pdf
Ensure that teachers receiving less-than-effective ratings are placed on a professional improvement plan.
Mississippi should adopt a policy requiring that teachers who receive even one less-than-effective evaluation rating are placed on structured improvement plans. These plans should focus on performance areas that directly connect to student learning and should identify noted deficiencies, define specific action steps necessary to address these deficiencies, and describe how and when progress will be measured.
Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that although no formal policy currently exists, those educators in need of an improvement plan may receive one if their observation and/or overall Professional Growth Score is less than 3.0.
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.