District of Columbia Public Schools: Defining Instructional Expectations and Aligning Accountability and Support

This Aspen Institute paper provides impressive detail on Michelle
Rhee’s hard-fought IMPACT teacher-accountability system, explaining its
mission, underlying principles, and implementation. The paper is more
than just a primer on IMPACT—though it does offer a comprehensive look
at the program’s rationale, philosophy, and structure. Aspen also
provides principal and teacher perspectives and analyzes the program’s
first year of data, offering lessons learned thus far. From the data,
Aspen reports a “moderately strong correlation” (r=.57) between
principal and master-educator evaluations, implying consistency in
judging teacher performance. Yet, it only finds a modest correlation
(r=.034) between scores generated from IMPACT’s instructional rubric and
teacher value-added data, implying that the IMPACT evaluation system
still needs some fine-tuning. Among the lessons offered for districts
trying similar teacher-evaluation reforms: Create common expectations
about what effective teaching means and looks like; understand that the
hardest part of creating a teacher-performance system is helping
educators improve their skills; and be aware that continued development
of organizational capacity is crucial to success.

Rachel Curtis, “District of Columbia Public Schools: Defining Instructional Expectations and Aligning Accountability and Support” (Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute, March 2011).

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