The Joint Legislative PEER Committee has released its report titled A Review of Mississippi’s School Recognition Program.
The report says that since the creation of the School Recognition Program, the Legislature has appropriated a total of $98.6 million to fund the financial awards to public schools.
Because statewide assessments were not administered in the spring of 2020 to determine accountability ratings for the 2020-2021 school year and because schools were allowed to retain their accountability ratings from the 2019-2020 school year, the Legislature will not have up-to-date accountability ratings on which to appropriate funds for the School Recognition Program to be distributed during FY 2022.
The School Recognition Program’s enabling legislation does not mandate the Mississippi Department of Education’s program implementation responsibilities and does not include a definition of “staff” eligible to receive a financial incentive payment.
During FY 2018 and FY 2019, teacher committees within eligible schools used varying methodologies to identify recipients of School Recognition Program award money resulting in inequitable allocations of such money to employees. MDE’s instructions for FY 2020 and FY 2021 deleted the use of teacher committees and required award money to be evenly distributed to eligible employees.
While the financial award provisions of Mississippi Code Section 37-19-10 have been implemented, a plan to reward high-performing teachers in low-performing schools has not been developed.
Of the states analyzed by PEER that have school recognition programs mandated in state law, Mississippi is the only state that requires financial award funds to be used exclusively as salary supplements for teachers and staff. PEER identified at least three states with school recognition programs administered by the states’ department of education. However, none of the states provide financial incentives to schools or teachers for being recognized for exemplary academic performance.
Research regarding the effectiveness of teacher merit pay plans is mixed with some studies showing positive results, while other studies show no or negative effects from such plans.
You can read the full report below.