Far-reaching IMPACT

D.C.’s much-discussed teacher-evaluation system,
IMPACT, is making itself felt. On Friday, 206 District teachers (about 5
percent of the instructional staff) were fired due to poor performance. Among
them, sixty-five were deemed “ineffective” (cause for immediate dismissal) and
another 141 were rated “minimally effective” for the second year in a row.
While firing any well-meaning, hard-working person can sound heartless, Gadfly
sees several reasons to celebrate. D.C.’s terminations over the past two years
mark a major milestone: the first time that teachers have been systematically,
objectively assessed—and then held to account for their performance. Not even Montgomery
or Cincinnati
(both of which are praised for their teacher-eval systems) can boast the rigors
or consequences of IMPACT. What’s more, IMPACT has survived the Fenty-Gray
mayoral shift (and the exit of its architect, Michelle Rhee). It looks like the
evaluation system is here to stay. And the icing on this double-decker cake:
While the Washington Teachers Union is still none-too-pleased with the
evaluation system, D.C. teachers we’ve spoken with believe that IMPACT has
actually improved their teaching. (The $25,000 bonus for which top teachers are
eligible—there were 663—might have helped generate positive feelings, too.)
IMPACT’s not perfect but this work-in-progress is years ahead of yesterday’s
status quo.

Click to play video of IMPACT (1) Click to play video of IMPACT (2)


Click to play

Click to listen to commentary on the D.C. IMPACT-based firings from the Education Gadfly Show podcast


Mayor’s Office Live: Vincent Gray on teacher firings, council changes
,” Washington Post, July 19, 2011.

than 200 D.C. teachers fired
,” by Bill Turque, Washington Post, July
15, 2011.

teacher performance evaluations are working
,” by Editorial Board, Washington Post, July 15, 2011.