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Mississippi School Board OK’s Teacher Evaluation Change

By Paul Boger | Published 19 May 2014 08:30am | comments
Mississippi teachers could see a change in the way they're evaluated next school year. MPB's Paul Boger reports state education board members have approved a measure that would grant school administrators more leeway in how much time they spend monitoring classroom instruction.
Under current Mississippi Department of Education rules, when school administrators are conducting teacher evaluations they are required to complete a set number of one-on-one interviews, instructional observations and informal class visits. But, on Friday, the state board of education voted to change that; allowing administrators to independently decide how much time is necessary to spend with each teacher. Cerissa Neal is with the Department of Education.  
"There's a lot of turnover sometimes." Neal said. "We have new principles that join the ranks and it becomes very difficult to accommodate the requirements from the M.D.E. Allowing them some flexibility will help them to accommodate those changes in staff and the other individual, circumstances that we find districts have throughout the year.
The change also allows administrators to spend less time with seasoned, already proven educators and more time helping younger teachers develop better skills. Frank Yates with the Mississippi Association of Educators says the changes will be extremely helpful to those school administrators already stretched thin.
"Say you have a school maybe with 60 teachers [sic], and maybe you got a principle and vice-principle." said Yates. "All the things administrators are required to do and the number of teachers in some places they have to deal with is just not humanly possible to do that."
However, some members of the board of education expressed concern that if a merit-based pay system were put in place in Mississippi, lawmakers would not go for an evaluation tool that did not have specific guidelines on classroom observation.  Cerissa Neal with the Department of Ed says the new system could easily be reworked. 
"Hopefully what were going to do is hopefully perfect an evaluation system so that it's ready to go when legislators want to use it as a performance based pay measurement or tool. If we can work out the kinks now we'll have something we can use in the future.
While the state currently has no performance based pay system for teachers, many believe recent legislation passed by lawmakers could create that framework within the next couple of years.




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