In the current atmosphere, finishing some of the processes that are a part of the regular school year seems inconsequential or unnecessary. Yet completing processes provides a sense of normalcy and creates fewer headaches to worry about when schools reopen. One of the most important processes this time of year is the summative evaluation of teachers.

While some states have canceled teacher evaluations this school year, Missouri and Nebraska have so far not issued that guidance. Even if teacher evaluations are not required for the year, we recommend still following the summative process for a few key reasons:

  • From a logistical standpoint, for schools that are a part of the Network for Educator Effectiveness, all data that you have entered over the year is collected and archived in a Summative Cycle. If a summative cycle is not closed (by submission of a summative evaluation), then any data entered in for the 2019-2020 school year will carry over and be shown for 2020-2021. (Review Guidance for Completing Teacher Summative Reports for more on how to close the summative cycle.)
  • From a coaching and growth standpoint, it is important to set time aside with the teacher to review the data that was entered up until schools closed and to discuss professional goals for next school year.
  • For states that have canceled evaluations, local districts will decide how raises and promotions will be handled for next school year. Using data and reports is always a good idea when faced with those decisions. We agree teachers should not be adversely impacted by the unique learning environment we are now in, so you should use data that was collected before schools closed to complete the summative report.

As of Thursday, March 19, more than 10,000 summative reports had been completed on teachers within the NEE Data Tool. To put that into perspective, a total of 17,951 were completed in 2018-2019 and 18,552 were completed in the 2017-2018 school year. Therefore, we feel confident in saying that more than half of the summative reports that needed to be completed for the 2019-2020 school year have already been completed. (Way to go!)

If you still have summative reports left to complete, you might encounter some logistical challenges, but don’t fret: We have several tips and strategies that will help you manage and complete the summative process and, most importantly, to have summative conversations with teachers in a remote environment.

Document and complete the process

Maybe you didn’t get into a teacher’s classroom as often as you would like, and you missed out on a couple of classroom observation opportunities you had scheduled for March, April, and possibly even May. That’s okay. In this time of crisis, we recommend that active observation stop and that administrators shift into a nonevaluative coaching and support role for teachers. You should complete your summative evaluation based on the classroom observations you did complete before school closed.

Likewise, other evaluation measures outside of classroom observations should rely on data collected before schools closed. You might still have work to do to complete professional development plans, unit of instruction plans, and specialist evaluation documents, and that’s okay. But you should use data/evidence from before schools closed to complete those evaluation documents.  

If you are ready, and your district gives you the go-ahead, now is the time to begin completing any summative reports that may still be open.

For more support on completing summative reports, read Guidance for Completing Teacher Summative Reports in the NEE Data Tool and find additional resources by searching “teacher summative” in the NEE Data Tool Help and Resources section. You will want to review the document titled “NEE Data Tool – Teacher Summative Report for Evaluators.” You can also find a walkthrough of NEE’s recommended summative process by going to EdHub and searching for “Teacher Summative Report.”

Find time and a way to interact

Summative evaluation conferences are important. NEE nearly always recommends face-to-face meetings for the summative conference, yet these times call for alternatives. Online meetings or a Facetime call will be the best alternative to provide for eye contact and direct engagement. Phone calls would also suffice, as they at least provide a real-time conversation.

We stress not doing any of the summative process via email. It is cold, distant, and will not engage you and the teacher in the back-and-forth discussion that is necessary to promote growth.

Provide feedback

Another essential piece of the summative conversation consists of providing feedback that promotes growth. To do this, remember the 3 Golden Rules and 5-Step Process for Giving Effective Feedback. The five steps are:

  1. Prepare
  2. Present data
  3. Discuss focus
  4. Make a plan
  5. Follow-up

Preparing for a conference during this time is especially crucial. Conversations, especially done via phone or online meeting, might naturally seem informal. It is still important to be prepared and to outline the way you want the conversation to evolve.

Use your NEE Guide to Effective Feedback placemat to help build the conversation you want, including where you want the focus to be, how to engage the teacher in self-reflection and growth toward a goal, and how to help support teachers’ work toward their goals.

While discussing goals, discuss options and outcomes that are feasible in the current work-from-home model. Implementation of classroom practices is, realistically, going to have to wait. This could be a time for learning, inquiry, research, and reflection. Think through ways that goals can be crafted to lead to immediate success within our current environment.

Follow the process

The process and timeline of the NEE Summative Evaluation remain the same. The workflow is as follows:

  1. The evaluator schedules the Summative Conference with the teacher. NOTE: Teachers have 14 days to respond to a completed Teacher Summative Report. The Summative Conference needs to be scheduled within that 14-day window to allow time for teacher comments.
  2. The evaluator generates and comments on the Teacher Summative Report.
  3. The evaluator conducts the Summative Conference with the teacher. The evaluator reviews the NEE Indicators and mean scores, all supervisor comments, and any results that can be used to form the teacher’s Professional Development Plan for the following school year.
  4. Once the conference is complete, the teacher verifies the Summative Conference and adds any comments.
  5. The current evaluation cycle is now closed. NOTE: If required by local school board policy, a PDF copy of the Teacher Summative Report can be printed and signatures added.

It is important to remind your teachers to verify the summative conference and add any comments they wish. Teachers have 14 days to verify and respond with additional comments.

You can find more about these processes in the following places:

  • The NEE Advantage blog: Guidance for Completing Summative Reports in the NEE Data Tool.
  • The NEE Data Tool: In the Help and Resources section, search for “teacher summative” and click on the document titled “NEE Data Tool – Teacher Summative Report for Evaluators.”
  • The NEE Data Tool: In EdHub, search for “Teacher Summative Report.”

Have grace and be compassionate

During these conversations, give grace and be compassionate. Each educator is dealing with new stresses both at home, in the community, and globally. While classroom work and professional effectiveness is important, life is as well. Show concern, have tact, be patient as situations unfold, and realize meetings might not go as planned.

Again, it might not seem important now, yet completing the summative process for each teacher is an important step to ensure a smooth transition once school opens back up and our routines return to normal.

If you need additional guidance or support during the summative process, please contact the NEE Help Desk at nee@missouri.edu or 844-793-4357.


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.