In recent months, so many reformers have come down with a case of the shakes, fretting about everything under the sun.
There are those who list the supposed litany of missteps made by our movement’s leaders. Then there are those who offer expansive mea culpas for all of the grievances thrown their way.
But no specific policy topic has caused more reformer repentance than educator evaluations. These new systems, we’re told by our erstwhile comrades-in-arms, have infuriated teachers, corrupted the formative nature of observations, and so much more. In fact, Mike Petrilli just cited these new evaluation systems as the easiest-to-criticize element in reform’s agenda.
Hopefully, the new, very encouraging study of Washington, D.C.’s IMPACT will coax some of my panicky friends out from under their covers.
I’ve long been a huge fan of IMPACT. It’s an educator-evaluation system that dramatically improves observations, makes use of student performance, rewards excellence, and has meaningful consequences for persistence low performance.
And it turns out—sorry Chicken Littles!— it’s working.
The study by Dee and Wyckoff found several positive effects. Maybe most importantly, it’s bringing about greater effectiveness across the board. It’s helping struggling teachers improve, and, remarkably, even causing those at the top to get better and better. In the words of one of the coauthors, “We find strong evidence that this system causes meaningful increases in teacher performance.”
It’s also helping to encourage the lowest-performing teachers to voluntarily leave the...