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For Release: Inside IMPACT, D.C's Model Teacher Evaluation System
Washington D.C.—School districts across the country are struggling with whether—and how—to incorporate multiple measures into teacher evaluation systems. In the District of Columbia, however, the decision has already been made. The D.C. IMPACT system, a rigid, numerically based teacher evaluation system, rates teachers on the basis of classroom observations and student performance data.
"In the two years since this high-stakes report card was launched, it has led to the firing of scores of educators, put hundreds more on notice, and left the rest either encouraged and re-energized, or frustrated and scared," says Susan Headden, senior writer/editor at Education Sector in a new report Inside IMPACT: D.C.'s Model Teacher Evaluation System.
The IMPACT system rates teachers on a combination of factors, some weighted far more heavily than others. For teachers in testing grades, student test scores (so-called value-added data) count for 50 percent; performance on the Teaching and Learning Framework counts for 35 percent; commitment to the school community gets 10 percent; and value added to the whole school gets another 5 percent.
In this report, Headden takes readers inside the evaluation process. She spent months talking with teachers. She sat in on classroom observations—and the subsequent conferences—by D.C. "master educators." She spoke with the District of Columbia administrators responsible for developing and implementing the program. She offers both an inside view of the process and some suggestions for how to make it stronger.
As school districts around the country work to devise their own evaluation systems that include student test scores and classroom observations, they are closely watching how this high-profile prototype is playing out in the nation's capital. As they do, they will find encouraging lessons in how codifying best practices can serve to objectively assess teachers and help them improve, and how greater accountability can considerably enhance the public's faith in a school system. They will also see how difficult it is to calibrate such a powerful tool so that it works as intended in practice.
But as Inside IMPACT makes clear, multiple-measures teacher evaluation is the future of K–12 education. And in Washington, D.C., the future is happening now.