Teacher standing in front of students

Over the summer of 2020, NEE released guidance and recommendations on evaluating effective teaching for the 2020-2021 school year. Hybrid learning, remote learning, in-person learning, and all the shifts back and forth created obstacles, challenges, and opportunities. We are now in 2021, and, in a lot of cases, the new year marks a shift in focus for the evaluation process: summative evaluations. 

Over the coming weeks, we will publish a series of blogs with recommendations for the teacher summative process after a challenging and uncertain school year. We start by reviewing NEE’s overarching recommendations for the summative evaluation process. 

1. Keep evaluation low-stakes.

The evaluation of effective teaching practices comprises one aspect of overall performance for a teacher. Continue to keep the evaluation process low-stakes and focused on growth. Use your work with teachers from throughout this year and at the time of the summative conference to build their fluency and expertise. Give performance consideration for the new environments that evaluators and the teachers have encountered as you both adjusted to the remote learning environment.

2. Document time and place.

Within the comments that administrators provide for the summative report, note the specific dates and times when traditional evaluation measures occurred and dates and times when remote learning evaluation measures occurred, as well as other external factors caused by the pandemic.

3. Conduct a summative conference.

Summative conferences should continue as scheduled according to board policy. We strongly encourage you to hold the summative conference in a face-to-face manner. If face-to-face conferences are not possible, video conferencing is preferred over phone conferences. The summative conference date and time should be scheduled to provide adequate notice to the educator. In the summative comments, we recommend the administrator provide specific documentation of the date the summative conference was held or will be held, as well as how the conference was held (face-to-face, video call, phone call).

4. Consider carrying forward to 2021-2022.

Districts may decide to continue the summative process in the 2021-2022 school year, if the school board agrees. This may decrease stress for teachers and allow them to become more comfortable within the shifting learning environments. If the decision is made to carry over the Teacher Summative Report process to the 2021-2022 school year, all data entered for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 will be on the Teacher Summative Report completed in the spring of 2022. If a district decides to follow this option, NEE recommends that evaluation, data entry, evidence collection, and feedback continue as normal for this year.

Tom Hairston is the Managing Director of the Network for Educator Effectiveness. Tom has worked with NEE since 2011. Prior to his work with NEE, he worked for two years as a Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports Consultant for the Heart of Missouri Regional Professional Development Center at the University of Missouri. He began his career in education as a high school special education and language arts teacher and football coach at Moberly High School in Moberly, Mo. Tom received his PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri in 2012. 


The Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) is a simple yet powerful comprehensive system for educator evaluation that helps educators grow, students learn, and schools improve. Developed by preK-12 practitioners and experts at the University of Missouri, NEE brings together classroom observation, student feedback, teacher curriculum planning, and professional development as measures of effectiveness in a secure online portal designed to promote educator growth and development.