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 County 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 listen to commentary on the D.C. IMPACT-based firings from the Education Gadfly Show podcast
“D.C. Mayor’s Office Live: Vincent Gray on teacher firings, council changes,” Washington Post, July 19, 2011.
“More than 200 D.C. teachers fired,” by Bill Turque, Washington Post, July 15, 2011.
“D.C. teacher performance evaluations are working,” by Editorial Board, Washington Post, July 15, 2011.
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