Say it isn’t so on IMPACT, Mayor Gray
1) I was optimistic that new Mayor Vincent Gray was serious about fixing the problem when he said at a recent public forum that the evaluation system --instituted under former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee -- was unfair to teachers. In his own words:
"I guess I would say at this stage... it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s got a long way to go to be a fair evaluation of our teachers. And frankly any system that isn’t sensitive to the differences in challenges of the kids in the schools only encourages teachers to teach in one part of the city and not in the other parts."
That is a real indictment of the system, and I had assumed that the new mayor would be moving swiftly to fix any system that was that unfair.
2) The basic flaws in IMPACT have already been identified.
3) Asking academics to evaluate any system usually takes time, a lot of it.
4) Asking an academic with a potential conflict of interest in a specific project seems like a bad idea.
Turque learned that D.C. schools officials had decided to ask the same Harvard think tank that experimented with paying D.C. middle schoolers for good grades and behavior to evaluate IMPACT teacher evaluation system.
The Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University, aka EdLabs, was tapped by school district officials and the former president of the Washington Teachers Union to do the independent evaluation. (The new president, Nathan Saunders, is not happy with the arrangement.)
But EdLabs, headed by economics Professor Roland G. Fryer Jr., has financial backers that include at least two private foundations -- the Eli and Edy Broad Foundation and the John and Laura Arnold Family Fund-- that are providing some of the tens of millions for performance pay bonuses that are a central element of IMPACT, Turque reported.
Handing over the evaluation to a Harvard think tank that carries prestige but will want to take time to do things is an easy way to schluff off the responsibility of fixing IMPACT right now until, well, sometime later.
On its face a request for an independent evaluation makes sense, but it isn't clear this is really independent or that it is really needed. There are evaluation systems that now exist that work better than IMPACT on which teachers and administrators have agreed in other jurisdictions.
Why do we have to reinvent the wheel here?
Say it isn’t say, Mayor Gray.
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| January 21, 2011; 12:35 PM ET
Categories: D.C. Schools, Michelle Rhee, Teacher assessment | Tags: d.c. schools, edulabs, harvard research, harvard thinktank, harvard university, mayor gray, mayor vincent gray, merit pay for teachers, michelle rhee, performance pay, teacher assessment, teacher evaluation
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