Inside IMPACT: D.C.'s Model Teacher Evaluation System

Outsiders have envied, emulated, and damned D.C.’s acclaimed
teacher-evaluation system, IMPACT. But what is the insiders’ perspective? This
report from Ed Sector delivers the answer. Author Susan Headden, a Pulitzer
Prize-winning journalist, presents a thorough and balanced perspective on this
revolutionary (but still emergent) system. She explains the core elements of
IMPACT (the classroom observations, instructional buckets against which
teachers are measured, etc.), and weaves a narrative that effectively captures
the experience of (a sample of) observed teachers, “master educators” (the ones
conducting the observations), as well as principals, union leaders, and
District staff responsible for developing the system. She notes a few red flags
(the distribution of IMPACT’s large performance bonuses are concentrated in
already high-performing schools, for example) and details a few places where
IMPACT could be improved, notably by doing more to help develop educators
rather than simply reward or punish them. But progress is being made on that
front. Based on our own interviews, we found that,
overwhelmingly, teachers saw monumental improvements in professional
development, and that the new system gave them specific, tangible ways to
enhance instruction.

 Inside IMPACT: D.C.’s Model Teacher Evaluation System
Education Sector
by Susan Headden
June 2011

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