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D.C. teacher evaluations look better

George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers Union, told me last year that the District’s new evaluation program had no “appropriate system of support to improve instruction” and was “bad for kids.” He suggested I contact more teachers to learn the many flaws of IMPACT, the program’s name.

I have tried to do that. I have written four columns so far pointing out what appear to be weaknesses, including dubious benchmarks of good teaching and inadequate training. But I am also getting a sense that many teachers like the new system. It is far from ideal, but it is also the best evaluation system they have ever participated in, they say.

“This is a much more direct way of targeting what your strengths and weaknesses are in order to develop your best teaching and to enhance your students’ learning,” Travis Hartberger, a science teacher at McKinley Technology High School, told me.
“ ..... Sometimes you cannot see what goes wrong until someone else sees that and points it out.”

“Overall I think IMPACT is a good thing,” said Anacostia High School special education teacher Walter Bond. “..... If knowing that an observation is coming forces us teachers to think more about incorporating things into our classrooms and lessons that benefit our kids, such as targeting multiple learning styles, checking for understanding, addressing positive and negative behaviors, then I think the program is worth it.”

IMPACT requires that each teacher be observed twice each year by an outside evaluator, called a “master educator,” and three times by an administrator at the school. Five observations is more than most teachers in this area, or in the District before IMPACT, ever experienced in a year.

Diana Suarez, a first grade teacher at Powell Elementary School, praised the post-observation conferences required by IMPACT. After evaluating Suarez, Master Educator Lee Granados and Powell principal Janeece Docal used the conferences to tell her how she might improve.

“These conversations were positive, encouraging and focused on practical solutions for me as a teacher,” Suarez said.

I watched a video of a public forum on IMPACT last week. Middle school teacher Angela McMillan said her master educator, Teresa Morrison, encouraged her to call when their conference went so long it was time to go home. They are still talking.

Some teachers and master educators question Parker’s assertion that IMPACT has no appropriate system of support to improve instruction. Alicia Hervey, a master educator in English, said it “provides teachers with timely, specific feedback that they might use to make adjustments to their delivery of instruction.” Matt Radigan, a master educator at the forum last week, said he was able to reassure a teacher that she was connecting with her students when she thought she wasn’t.

The many parents at the forum seemed happy about IMPACT. One said she was puzzled why any teachers would object to an evaluation system when they evaluate her child every day. Jason Kamras, who runs IMPACT, put up a photo of his infant son, Ezra, during a PowerPoint presentation at the forum to emphasize that children were the point of the evaluations. If they don’t learn more under IMPACT, he said, “we will need to go back to the drawing board.”

The evaluation system could fail for many reasons. What happens to teachers who don’t meet the standards will be crucial. But many smart people in the District like what they see so far. Columnists and union presidents, along with everyone else, ought to wait for results from the classroom before we make up our minds.

Read Jay's blog every day at

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By Jay Mathews  | February 28, 2010; 10:00 PM ET
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags:  D.C. system criticized, D.C. teacher evaluations, George Parker, IMPACT system in D.C., Jason Kamras, Washington Teachers Union, assessing teachers, teacher like IMPACT system, training teachers  
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Again, conducting a “formal” evaluation without a pre-conference means that the Master Educator's have no PRIOR KNOWLEDGE on teachers and students. For example, if a Master Educator walks into a classroom where 10 of the students are exceptional learners and require exhaustive accommodations, how would he/she know what they are observing without prerequisite data (a pre-conference)? You never addressed this last time...As I wrote to Kamras, he agreed, IMPACT is not perfect and needs to be tweaked.

Posted by: rasheeedj | March 1, 2010 5:07 AM | Report abuse

I tend to agree with the teachers that generally like IMPACT. The issues that I see (which are fixable)

1. There is NO uniformity among master educators, administrators, etc... about what consitutes certain scores. There are multiple teachers at my school who have gotten 2.2 from a master educator and 3.7 from their adminstrators (or vice versa)

2. Some of the master educators aren't really. I'm sorry, but it's true. I've been very lucky in that my master educator is great, but I've heard some horror stories from teachers I respect about some of the other ones.

3. Preconferences are necessary (see Rasheeedj in the comment above).

4. I think that it is in many ways unrealistic to assume that teachers are doing everything in the IMPACT form in 30 minutes. Either the evaluations have to be lengthened, or there has to be some realization that sometimes you can't hit 3 learning styles, refer to your objectives 5 times, be positively affirming, etc... all in 30 minutes.

As I said, I think it is better then PPEP (the previous system) for sure. No system is going to be perfect, but if you are going to evaluate teachers, this is much fairer then 1 prepared observation from an administrator who has already decided whether they think you are a good teacher or not.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | March 1, 2010 7:17 AM | Report abuse


Great fourth column on this controversial and critical topic for effective school reform.

The missing component for me was the lack of any mention of connecting student test scores to the teacher evaluation. Has any progress been made on this aspect of negotiations concerning what percent of the teacher evaluation will be placed on student tests scores connected to each teacher? 40%? 20%? 60%? While I realize this is probably privileged information and cannot be discussed in an open forum, it's still the center of IMPACT and should not be totally ignored.

Continue the dialogue.

Posted by: phoss1 | March 1, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

I've felt since September that IMPACT's success is all about the implementation, and from my end-the MEs have failed awfully. My administrators have been fair and focused on helping me improve as an educator- which to me, should be the goal of IMPACT. One of the science MEs on the other hand, has been nothing but inflexible and either spiteful or lazy (not sure which) in terms of adjusting scores in the face of evidence contrary to her 30 minute snapshot. (For example, I was under the impression that IEPs or other accommodations/interventions were to be taken into account. Not with her. I was scored low in an area in which I've received 3s or 4s from admins, and she *refused* to look at the documentation for why the behaviors she witnessed were, in fact, acceptable.) She literally seems determined to play a "gotcha" game to try to find faults. To me, this may go along with the letter of the law of IMPACT, but it clearly defies the spirit of the law, which I understood to be getting a picture of how we typically teach and figuring out how to improve ourselves as educators. (Or, if I misunderstand, and the spirit of the law as it comes down from central office *is* to catch us at our worst- then boy, does Michelle Rhee have some explaining to do!)

Either way, IMPACT, in particular IMPACT as abused by this ME, is one of the reasons I'm leaving DCPS. I have several colleagues who feel the same way. And just to be clear, we are the "young, energetic, best and brightest" that Rhee salivates over. However, I believe she forgot one thing about us as a high-achieving cohort: we're accustomed to being trusted and treated like professional adults. Difficult students- we understand, but we're not accustomed to having the powers that be set us up for failure.

See for another viewpoint from an excellent educator fed up with DCPS.

Posted by: uva007 | March 1, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Jay, for your next article on IMPACT, I suggest to a discussion of and links to the instruments developed to evaluate the IMPACT system’s effect on student learning – which is what it’s all about. I presume there will be measurements showing the relationship between teachers’ IMPACT scores and student scores on standardized tests.

For instance, include a chart that shows the kids’ scores and the IMPACT scores of teachers who have those same kids for different subjects. If IMPACT is working, the kids scores should be going up in classes where the teacher has high IMPACT ratings and down in classes where the teacher has low ratings. If that isn’t happening, then IMPACT needs to be re-evaluated and different teacher styles need to be studied and evaluated as well.

Also check across the board in all DC schools to see the effect of teachers’ scores on DC-CAS results. If IMPACT is working, rising DC-CAS scores should track with high IMPACT scores. For instance, if there is not a clear link between high positive affirmation scores, using three learning styles and rising student achievement, teachers should not be marked down on these measures. Remember the remarks the Chancellor made in the Time article:

"The thing that kills me about education is that it's so touchy-feely." …"People say, 'Well, you know, test scores don't take into account creativity and the love of learning,'" … "I'm like, 'You know what? I don't give a crap.' Don't get me wrong. Creativity is good and whatever. But if the children don't know how to read, I don't care how creative you are. You're not doing your job."

Lastly, all of the data should be collected and analyzed by an independent contractor and it should all be available to the public for analysis and review. Just recently, gfBrandenburg did an analysis* deflating the chancellor’s claims that her new principals raised student achievement. She had never provided any evidence for this, but once Brandenburg acquired data on principal turnover, he was able to match it with the publicly available DC-CAS data to show the chancellors’ claims were not accurate.

* see blog entries for 2/25-27/10 at

Posted by: efavorite | March 1, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Impact has the possibility of being a good evaluation system but currently it is not. Everything depends on the ME that comes to your room. The rubric and teaching and learning framework are written in such a way that both give wide latitude to whoever is doing the evaluation. It is currently a kind of Rorshach test of the ME's mindset, not a fully accurate evaluation of a teacher. I have known some teachers to get a truly helpful ME, one who came in, understood what was happening in the classroom and reflected that in their evaluation. I have known others to get ME's who have huge chips on their shoulders, a show-me-or-else attitude. These ME's hew to the bean counting, ambiguous aspects of Impact and the scores they gave teachers, good teachers mind you, reflected this. While no system is perfect a system that can give such varying scores depending on the evaluator is definitely flawed and needs adjusting. 30 minutes is not enough time to get an accurate read of a room. The evaluators should be spending more time in schools and in the classrooms of the teachers. The process should include parents and colleagues in the school as well as the ME. I'm sure that many who Jay talked to received good scores, hence they are pleased with the new system - after all, it seems fair doesn't it. I received a good score but educators in my building who I know to be excellent teachers received much lower scores - not because they did anything different but because they had a different ME. As a final criticism, currently Master Educators are required to have 3 years experience (down from the original 5 listed on the website). Quite frankly no ME should have less than 10 years experience. Three years is not enough to really know what you are doing as a teacher.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | March 1, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I feel that we must take into consideration the culture of fear that the Rhenty organization has instilled throughout the city. Everyone that was inteviewed for this piece provided their names. They would only do this if they were commenting postively. If negative discussion occurs, it is anonymously or from someone who has already decided to leave.

I am unhappy with the current IMPACT system, but I do not have a better option to put forth. It is unfortunate that there is not a single strong evaluation instrument, but it is almost impossible to review teaching with so many variables that impact classroom achievement.

Posted by: dcgreeneboy | March 1, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Hi Jay,

I returned to DCPS after a year in a charter school. I came back to IMPACT. Now after being in a charter, I felt that IMPACT was a fair way to look at teachers, but in the back of my mind I just knew that DCPS would figure out a way to screw this up. I received a fair evaluation from my AP during the first cycle and thoroughly enjoyed our conversation during our post conference. However, I was never contacted by a ME which jeapordizes my scores from that first cycle. Inconsistencies like this and others that I hear from other educators undermine what to me could be a very valuable tool for evaluating teaching and learning.

Posted by: momandteacher | March 1, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

For any system of evaluation to be valid (whether for students or for teachers) there must be interrater reliability. From the comments from teachers who have been evaluated, there seems to be consensus that either there was insufficient training of the evaluators on the rubrics or the rubrics themselves do not sufficiently and significantly differentiate between levels of performance. These are just two possible causes for such wild variations between raters. Without a norming process to ensure interrater reliability, then the validity of the entire IMPACT system needs to be called into question.

Posted by: buckbuck11 | March 1, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"I've felt since September that IMPACT's success is all about the implementation"

Quite true.
Where's the article from a month or two ago about the Master Educator who echoed this concern? Something came up in her interview for the job that Jason Kamras somehow knew not to be true.
I believe she spoke at the DC Council hearing on the RIFs.

Posted by: edlharris | March 1, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Edlharris - here's the article

It's about an instructional coach (in-house) not a Master educator.

buckbuck - interesting point about inter-rater reliability. Seems like that would hold up when assessing the results of any written test, like DC-CAS, but becomes a judgment call otherwise.

The things we know can be tested reliably about teachers, or anyone, are things like subject knowledge, English grammar and writing skills. I think that most teachers who are not currently proficient in these areas can quickly become proficient and should have the opportunity to do so.

Posted by: efavorite | March 1, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Very wise comments.
For dcgreeneboy, i hope you will click on some of the links in that column and see I have been able to find teachers willing to speak negatively about IMPACT. I grant you there aren't a lot of them, but there weren't that many willing to be upfront about their views in a positive way either. Most teachers don't want to publicize themselves. I am an expert on that, having spent half of my life trying to get them to talk to me on the record. Their reasons are good ones. They want to do their work, not look good in the newspaper, and they know that even good publicity can be a problem at work. But as I said anyone reading this blog would have seen far more negative than positive readings about IMPACT up to now, and from good people willing to have their names used.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | March 1, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

One of the high-schools I am affiliated with are genuinely satisfied with the IMPACT. As for the other high-school that I am affliated with they are genuinely unsatisfied the the IMPACT. Now in school one...the current principal has been there with the school two years and the administrative team collectively have a good grasp on the school's employees as a whole. Now in school two, the current principal has been there for two years...but one his current AP's is a demoted principal...therefore a difference of an opinions regarding the administrative team as whole is their biggest problem.

What I find interesting is the incessant cry of "I always recieved an outstanding" what is with this IMPACT it can't evaluate my "WAY" of teaching. Betcha a dime to doughnuts its from the veteran teacher who thinks the master-educator is a joke. Lord, knows if the veteran teacher is a former colleague of the ME...then it is all about this "they are out to get me." When I talk with neophyte teachers and inquire about their is pretty much par for the course...some are very thankful at the results. I guess the younger teachers appreciate the ME dialogue as they know what they do truly impacts the students in the long run.

Posted by: PowerandPride | March 1, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

To get inter-rater reliability you would want administrators and master educators to observe on the same date at the same time. Otherwise, although they would be rating the same teacher, they may or may not be rating the teacher with the same students and almost certainly would be seeing something different in terms of content and activities for the day. It doesn't sound like the system is currently set up to do this.

Posted by: mgribben | March 1, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

IMPACT and all other teacher evaluation systems are heavily dependent on the skill and competency of the observers -those so called "master teachers" and school administrators (principals and assistant principals). Jay - why don't you ask DCPS to share with you the qualifications of the master teachers now employed. Individuals with only a few years of teaching experience should not be considered for the role of master teacher. When the master teacher has limited experience in the classroom their limitations quickly become evident when they observe. Do they know what they are looking at? is it quality teaching and do they know what is needed to help the teacher to improve? What is observed and measured?
What about : discipline? communication? use of instructional time? momentum? meaning (the more meaningful and relevant the task or application of information is to the students' world, the easier it is to learn). The list goes on. As a person who has observed teachers thousands of times, I know that teachers learn many of their skills on the job not from a college textbook. What is critical is the guidance and support of experienced and knowledgeable people with the ability to communicate AND demonstrate what should happen in the classroom. Many teachers do not last in the profession because of lack of support from skilled individuals who have spent real time in the classroom, teaching. I don't care what the evaluation system is called - it rests heavily on how effectively it is implemented and those responsible for helping teachers to succeed. It is easy to dismiss teachers. What is most difficult is recognizing the missing elements in a teacher's performance in the classroom and doing something about it. And by the way--- 30 minute observations do not provide enough time to determine the effectiveness of a teacher unless that individual lacks the rudimentary talents and know-how needed to be responsible for the education of a room full of students.

Posted by: lightkeeper | March 1, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse


Do you remove posted comments from this site? And if you do, will you acknowledge the practice.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | March 1, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Have you looked at the non-value added portion of IMPACT for those teachers who do not teach in subjects tested by DC-CAS (which is the vast majority)? What exactly is a "rigorous and reliable" assessment for each grade, for each subject? How many standards does it have to cover to be valid? Who decides? Are the measures consistent throughout the school system? What exactly is "mastery"? How is that quantified? It seems that there will be a wide variety in how that portion of the IMPACT assessment is measured.

Posted by: arwen1 | March 1, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I've received an average of about 3.8 on IMPACT evaluations. Its a movement in the right direction, but I have become more disenchanted with IMPACT over the year for the following reasons. 1) Its not really an evaluation system. Its a system designed to drive teaching practices. An evaluation system would evaluate what I bring to the table each day, which intersects with IMPACT at times, but is not driven by it. I, nor most of my colleagues, did not get into the field to be driven by external influences, though I value teamwork and feedback as much as anyone else. 2) The lack of context the "ME" brings into the room is a huge flaw. 3) 1 hour of time with MEs, or about 1/700 of the total instructional hours I have with my class, is 16% of my final evaluation score. Proportional? I think not. 4) Rolling out the system days before the start of the year showed an unprofessional lack of respect for teachers, especially 1st and 2nd-years.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | March 1, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Here are more of Michelle Rhee’s thoughts on teacher effectiveness, from the October ’08 Atlantic* article:

“So I think being an effective teacher doesn’t necessarily mean you have to operate the way I operated. Every person has to do their own thing in their own way. I think that’s the most important thing.”

I don’t think they’re [characteristics of a good teacher] are all measurable by data. A lot of things that people generally think describe a good teacher—Are you working 18 hours a day? Are you really enthusiastic? Are you bounding around the classroom?—aren’t measurable. But they’re also not things that all effective teachers have.

“In my mind, the bottom line is, if you can show through data that you’re moving student achievement levels, then it really doesn’t matter. How you go about doing it is less important to me.”

Jay – why don’t you ask her how this fits in with her commitment to IMPACT. Her quotes here seem consistent with each other, but seem to contradict some of the tenets of IMPACT. Here, she seems to be saying that teachers have different styles and that all that matters ultimately is that student scores go up. IMPACT says that unless teachers can score adequately according to a specific list in a 30 minute timeframe, then they are not effective.

Posted by: efavorite | March 1, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

for PowerandPride: thanks for the great insider's perspective.

for dccounselor72: i have never ever removed a posted comment from this site. I wouldn't know how to if I wanted to, which I don't. Was one removed? If so I am happy to follow up and report back to you what is happening and why. You can tell me in a comment here or email me at My view is the more comments the better, and the critical ones are particularly treasured, at least by me. I have told one and all if they have trouble posting a comment, email it to me and I will post it under their name or signon myself.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | March 1, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

thetensionmakesit work went to the heart of the issue. I want to reinforce his or her profound statement that:

"Its not really an evaluation system. Its a system designed to drive teaching practices. An evaluation system would evaluate what I bring to the table each day, which intersects with IMPACT at times, but is not driven by it. I, nor most of my colleagues, did not get into the field to be driven by external influences."

The commenter is making a wise statement of self-respect. Too many "reformers" want to move around urban teachers like we are chess pieces. They'de be horrified by the result if their kids' teachers submitted to such indignities.

That's one more reason why I bleieve the main thrust of these "reforms" is destroying "the status quo," destroying the fundamental principles of due process and collective bargaining, destroying the principles of the liberal arts and a liberal society, and destroying the professional autonomy of teachers.

These true believers just have faith that if they drive out the Baby Boomers and teachers who respect traditional values then something better will replace our timeless principles. They remind me of the old Trotskyists we would put up with in college. They know in their hearts what is right, so they plan to drive history.

Posted by: johnt4853 | March 1, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

great observation efavorite...this is the rub for me...professional teachers need the time and space to finesse...not follow checklists. IOW, teaching is not checkers, its chess. IMPACT is checkers.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | March 1, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Jay thanks for your response to my inquiry regarding the removal of posts. Earlier today, I commented under the article “DC Teachers Evaluation Has Its Fans in the Classroom” posted on the Metro home page. I am not sure what happened but I appreciate your response.

First, some administrators are using IMPACT as a weapon against teachers. In some instances, the school-based administrators are giving very low ratings to veteran teachers and/or someone who is not popular with the administrators. School based administrators are terrified when it comes to rating the new teachers because they fear Rhee and company. Example, a veteran teacher was rated very low by our school administrators but received a respectful rating by the ME certified in his area. Who is right, the school based personnel or the ME. I have watched new teachers struggle in the classroom but they receive high ratings from school personnel and the MEs. It has been said that Jason K basically told the MEs to give the new teachers high ratings and veteran teachers a low ratings.

Several teachers have been visited by a ME during Cycle 1 and nothing happened. No follow-up, no information reported in the IMPACT system, and no plan to help teachers improve. How will this impact the teachers’ ratings for the year?

Compared to many of my fellow teachers, I can say that I have received a pretty good rating in light of the fact that the cards have been stacked against me and most veteran teachers. I feel the IMPACT is a failure and has only caused a greater divide between veterans and new teachers.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | March 1, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I went to one of the community forums on IMPACT for parents. I was not convinced. I see that the system will still provide big incentives for teachers to move to the "lucky" school with low Sped and low reduced lunch population. I also fear that it is going to squeeze out the Montessori and other non-traditional programs. My kids are in the Montessori program at their school and excellent teachers in that program have been given poor ratings. I discussed this with one of the primary Montessori teachers and found out the ME reviewing her marked her down for the use of the movable alphabet. That it "wasn't a proper presentation of phonics, and children being taught this way would be set back in their reading." It showed that the ME had no understanding of Montessori methods or their success. I discussed this with other teachers and even those that got high marks on their observations were marked down for specific issues that had to do with following the Montessori method instead of traditional methods. I expect that most readers of this column will be aware of the strong data supporting the success of the Montessori method.

I also have heard from some principals that the number of observations expected leaves them time for little else.

Posted by: qazqaz | March 1, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

We stakeholders should be enthused about the comments on Impact. On balance, even critics and people uncomfortable with evaluations of teachers, recognize its promise, even if grudgingly.

Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists are burning up the blogosphere at places like Thewashingtonteacher/blogspot.

Posted by: axolotl | March 1, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Somewhere within IMPACT, there is a good system waiting to get out. The rubric for scoring if used well can help us all become better teachers. I am lucky in that I have the same master educator assigned to me as your first quoted teacher, Travis. She is incredibly supportive, professional and skilled in giving feedback. When she came to evaluate me, she reminded me why I set up my class in certain ways all those years ago. She found strengths I forgot I had.

However, there is still a lot about this system that seems unnecessarily threatening ranging from the superficial to the more substantial. For instance, look at the language used in the system. Someone asked me, “Why is the system called IMPACT?” My response was, “Well, Ms. Rhee couldn’t find an acronym to the word ‘BLUDGEON’.” In an atmosphere where there is little trust, it seems like this is more posturing trying to beat teachers into submission. Similarly, the first day I report for training, I received a package that referred to me as a “Teacher with no value added.” This referred to my lack of standardized test data to be used in my evaluation, but was that the best they can do for language?

There were more problems with the way the evaluation was implemented. One problem inherent in the system is that for certain criteria that have several sub-categories, a teacher’s grade is the lowest of the list rather than an average of those sub-categories. This shows me that the system is designed to be punitive, and if we used a similar one with children, we’d be fired. As the system is implemented, it continues to be more punitive. While I had a great evaluator, several of my colleagues reported that their evaluator said, “Well, I can’t give you all fours. I have to ding you on something.” Again, how is this good evaluation?

Good teaching isn’t good teaching because it’s something specifically designed for children. It’s just good management and people skills. It’s time we saw some of that out of the central office.

Posted by: DCCharles | March 1, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

DCCharles- standing and clapping. Thank you.

Posted by: uva007 | March 2, 2010 3:17 AM | Report abuse

Jay, I found the comment to quite interesting made by the special educator from Anacostia. How can it be possible for 753 students to have failed and the IMPACT process be so effective ?????

Posted by: akavsu2001 | March 2, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

DCCharles - Right On Brother! From now on I will refer to IMPACT as BLUDGEON. The chancellor has demonstrated once again her disrespect for teachers or more likely her inexperience.

Posted by: lightkeeper | March 2, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Have you asked what the "objective measurement" is for assessing student achievement in grades and subjects not covered by standardized tests, since very few are? This is also part of a teacher's IMPACT rating. Below is a quote from the latest issue of the Chancellor's notes. "This is why IMPACT, the teacher assessment aligned to the Teaching and Learning Framework, includes an objective measurement of student achievement. It does not ask for results according to an absolute measure of student performance, as this would not be fair to teachers whose students start out behind. Instead it includes the academic growth students achieve in the time spent with a teacher."

Posted by: arwen1 | March 2, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Please look into the situation at Columbia Heights Educational Campus for a shocking example of how the lack of uniformity can hurt teachers and students. Apparently, and my experience supports this rumor, the school has the highest overall rating by master educators, but the lowest overall rating of teachers by our own administrators. In other words, the best teachers in the district by an impartial measure are considered the worst by their own employers, and treated accordingly. Are some schools in DC new teacher mills? Is there a connection between the fact that the district will reserve the right to pay low-rated teachers less, and the fact that CHEC seems to want their teachers to end with an overall low score? Something fishy is going on here, and no one seems to consider it worth investigating, despite the fact that this school has the lowest morale and highest teacher turnover in the district.

Posted by: DCteacher0809 | March 2, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Here's another DCPS teacher's take on IMPACT: I am a second year teacher, and this is my second (and probably last) year teaching with DCPS. I'm not "young". I've received high IMPACT scores so far. I expect to be evaluated in my job. I wanted a master educator to assess my teaching in my content area. My first ME was a veteran teacher and was pleasant and thorough in debriefing the evaluation.

Due to my present service agreement with DCPS and to limited resources, I am now required to teach a subject in which I have no prior experience, no content knowledge, and no certification. I've no doubt a master educator will observe me teaching this subject. That observation is bound to be awkward. Maybe I'll be lucky to have a ME who has the time to impart some content knowledge or resources.

I've been told "not to worry" about my scores. Why not? Are they suddenly of no consequence in determining my overall effectiveness as a teacher?

It's not "my scores" that I worry about most. I'm very concerned that my IMPACT scores in a work situation for which hiring authorities knew I was not qualified are of more import than the fact that all children do not get the benefit of a certified teacher for specialized content instruction at the secondary level. If I leave now, my students won't get another teacher. If someone else doesn't have to fill in for me, students won't have the class at all. Still, I think having an appropriate teacher would benefit student learning experiences significantly.

I know too many other new teachers in this situation. While I don't know how much IMPACT cost the District, I do know that two teachers hired at my level make about the same combined salary as one master educator. Are we really putting kids' learning first here?

Posted by: justthefacts13 | March 2, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse


Some things you have failed to address:

• There is not just one IMPACT. There are several. Different teachers are being evaluated according to totally arbitrary formulas.

• Nobody really knows how to interpret the rubric. Administrators are making it up as they go. One of the areas that is least understood the NVA. There are no teachers in my building that feel this measure is being used clearly or fairly.

• The T&L rubric is much too rigid. One of the problems is it doesn't allow for teachers to address more than one learning objective per lesson. This just doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Nemessis | March 4, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

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