Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

E-mail Bill | RSS Feed | In-depth coverage: Education Page | Follow The Post's education coverage: Twitter | Facebook

Posted at 9:53 AM ET, 01/20/2011

Harvard group to evaluate IMPACT

By Bill Turque

Updated at 3 p.m. with WTU response

The Harvard think tank that experimented with paying D.C. middle schoolers for good grades and behavior will also study the IMPACT teacher evaluation system. DCPS confirmed late Wednesday that the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University, aka EdLabs, is the mutual selection of the District and the Washington Teachers' Union to conduct an independent evaluation of the evaluation. EdLabs is headed by Roland G. Fryer Jr., the economics professor who has been studying the effects of cash awards on students in D.C., Chicago, Dallas and New York.

An independent look at IMPACT is provided for in a side letter to the collective bargaining agreement signed last year by DCPS and the union, which has major objections to the system. I might be missing something, but on the surface at least, Fryer seems like a peculiar choice. He's clearly a rising star--one of the youngest Harvard profs to win tenure--but much of his published work involves the achievement gap and race-based economic and social issues. His papers include "An Empirical Analysis of Acting White" and "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names."

The other issue is EdLab's "partners," or financial backers. They include at least two of the private foundations providing some of the tens of millions for the performance pay bonuses that are a central element of IMPACT. They include the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation the John and Laura Arnold Family Fund. They might like IMPACT just the way it is.

While Fryer's selection may have been a mutual decision by DCPS and the Washington Teachers' Union, WTU's sign off apparently came from George Parker before he left office in early December. His successor, Nathan Saunders, said this afternoon he knew nothing about Fryer until a few days ago, when he approached DCPS about starting the process of selecting an independent IMPACT evaluator.

Saunders said he had serious questions about Fryer's suitability for such a critical task, especially in light of his status as "a recent contractor" with DCPS who is "very friendly toward the Rhee agenda."

"This is absolutely not a dead issue," Saunders said.

Fryer's voice mail at Harvard is full and not taking messages. A phone message to EdLabs was not returned Thursday. Whatever reasons DCPS has for wanting Fryer, it is keeping to itself for the moment.

"We won't be saying anything more about Fryer at this time," said spokeswoman Safiya Simmons. That includes any details about exactly how deep Fryer will be diving or how long he'll take. It matters because the issue is heating up politically, given Mayor Vincent C. Gray's recent comments questioning IMPACT's fairness to teachers in high-poverty schools.

The cash-for-grades initiative, called Capital Gains, ran for two school years (2008-09 and 2009-10) and involved about 3,000 middle schoolers, who earned up to $100 a month. Fryer's assessment of the first year found that the money led to higher reading test scores for Hispanics, boys and students with behavior problems. But the overall effect, however, was less significant and Fryer acknowledged that the relatively small sample made it difficult to draw strong conclusions. Former Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who brought Fryer to D.C., said she liked the program but that budget issues made it difficult to continue. Cap Gains is not running in the current school year, although DCPS has never formally announced that it has been discontinued.

Follow D.C. Schools Insider every day at washingtonpost.com/dc- schools. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our new Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed. Bookmark it!

By Bill Turque  | January 20, 2011; 9:53 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The buzz about Rhee from "The Bee Eater"
Next: The hunt for DCPS middle school options

Comments

Right: Members of the Cambridge crowd are going to be critical of the levels of improvement some of them have already, repeatedly, made major claims for. Add personnel management and Quality Improvement to the -- last, it was adolescent group and peer psychology -- that Roland Fryer dabbles in for profit.

DCPS could not have found a management group with experience and established expertise in Quality Control and quality improvement in the workplaces of professionals?

Posted by: incredulous | January 20, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Good luck reaching him, Bill, Guy Brandenburg reported the same problem 10 months ago when checking on Fryer’s Capitol Gains results:

“I looked up his Harvard faculty web page, and called him up by phone. Unfortunately, he didn’t answer, and his voice mail box was full.” 3/21/10
http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/even-more-on-the-capital-gains-program/

Posted by: efavorite | January 20, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Everyone named in this post is so much in bed with each other, as Turque points out, any resulting evaluation will be laughable.

(I am also pained to find myself siding with Saunders.)

Was Turque's FOIA request for info on Capital Gains ever answered?

Posted by: goldgirl96 | January 20, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Goldgirl -- How are you "siding" with Saunders? The Union is in favor of EdLabs, too.

Posted by: cbr1 | January 20, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

While recusal is beckoning, I must say the selected organization is somewhat of a surprise, and quite possibly a mistake. But it is interesting that the union went along. Explain yoself, Nate.

Professor Fryer (allegedly and humorously and respectfully known to some critics as Deep Fat), will return calls and emails to those he wants to communicate with.

Hopefully this study will be more transparent than the last. If Mr. Gray and the union cannot enforce that, they need to disregard the results. The timeframe is needlessly excessive, too.

Posted by: axolotl | January 20, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

cbr1,

My bad. I'm assuming Saunders will complain about any decision regarding teacher evaluation. If he supports EdLabs, then he's in bed with the rest of them, and is no different from Parker IMO.

Posted by: goldgirl96 | January 20, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

An interesting sidebar to the Capital Gains, which might explain later events, is that it was announced in big fashion at Hardy Middle School and Hardy was identified as a testing ground.
However, the students at Hardy did not participate.
Whether that was due to them ,their parents or Principal Pope and the staff is not known, but it led to
Ms Rhee removing Patrick Pope.
Don't cross Michelle.

Posted by: edlharris | January 20, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"While Fryer's selection may have been a mutual decision by DCPS and the Washington Teachers' Union, WTU's sign off apparently came from George Parker before he left office in early December. His successor, Nathan Saunders, said this afternoon he knew nothing about Fryer until a few days ago, when he approached DCPS about starting the process of selecting an independent IMPACT evaluator."
Please reread Saunders had nothing to do with this...give the man a chance!

Posted by: kingcjfam@aol.com | January 20, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"While Fryer's selection may have been a mutual decision by DCPS and the Washington Teachers' Union, WTU's sign off apparently came from George Parker before he left office in early December. His successor, Nathan Saunders, said this afternoon he knew nothing about Fryer until a few days ago, when he approached DCPS about starting the process of selecting an independent IMPACT evaluator."
Please reread Saunders had nothing to do with this...give the man a chance!

Posted by: kingcjfam@aol.com | January 20, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Was there a request for proposals, or was this another way for Michelle Rhee to fund Roland Fryer's shop, disappointed as they may have been to not continue the experiment and collect fees on that contract?

Posted by: incredulous | January 20, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The WTU response, tucked obscurely in the middle of the post, adds a lot of useful information, especially Saunders' statement, "This is absolutely not a dead issue."

Thanks for quoting the union directly, Bill. Now how about highlighting its response?

Posted by: efavorite | January 20, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

This is not good news. The third party to evaluate IMPACT should be someone with no connections to DCPS, WTU or any of the private donors to DCPS.

It's important to note that EdLabs was agreed to by WTU when Parker was president and Rhee was Chancellor. Now that leadership in both organizations has changed, I think it would bode well for both DCPS and WTU to choose another party to do the independent evaluation. It certainly would lead to a more fair and impartial evaluation. I see big problems with EdLabs. If they favor IMPACT, WTU won't be happy and will cry foul play. If they don't favor IMPACT, DCPS will not be happy.

Personally, I think DCPS and WTU should agree going into it that it's a seriously flawed instrument and ask whomever does the evaluation to come up with recommendations to reform it and make it more fair.

Keeping it will make DCPS happy and reforming it so it's more fair will satisfy WTU.

Let's hope both sides are willing to compromise. I don't see IMPACT going away but I do hope it can be overhauled to make it more fair and less constricting.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | January 20, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Well Urbanweller, so far we know that Parker signed off on it, but we don't know if Rhee or Henderson signed off for DCPS.

Bill will find out for us, right, Bill?

And Roland Fryer -- if you're reading here -- please think twice before staying in this arrangement. You've got your tenure; you've got fame; why get involved in this mess? It won't be good press for edlabs.

Posted by: efavorite | January 20, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Thrown under the bus again. I thought Rhee was breaking up the old boy network. Mayor Gray I hope you are not going to expect us to agree with this group that has been selected. You should step up and say this study will be bias, due to the connections each party has with Rhee, Kamars, Henderson etc. If you want to send the right message to the people who backed you during election time, DO THE RIGHT THING! All we (dcps teachers)are asking for is a fair chance when being evaluated 5 times a year. I don't think that is too much to ask for.

Posted by: helluvateacher | January 20, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Fascinating choice. Looking at the lessons learned from Fryar's academic work, such as the influence of peers, he would seem qulaified to recognize the key issue of IMPACT, which Gray just explained about poor schools being different. But the influence of power on Gates' stable of researchers is not encouraging.

Posted by: johnt4853 | January 21, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

How about a study on how other school districts with "poor" children succeed, despite the odds?

Posted by: rickyroge | January 22, 2011 8:07 AM | Report abuse

"How about a study on how other school districts with "poor" children succeed, despite the odds?"

Yes, Rickyroge, I'd like to see that study too, to determine exactly what role the teachers played. Were they held completely responsible for the children's education, despite the influence of out-of-school factors in children's lives?

What was the teacher turn-over in that system? Level of teacher experience and length of service? What social services are provided to the kids? What's the attendance rate and graduation rate? How many English Language learners? How many in special education?

So many questions.

If you find such a study, please let us know. it will be very instructive.

Posted by: efavorite | January 22, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I just read this article about the IMPACT evaluation. I sent George Parker a question:
[[George,
Did you sign off on Roland Fryer to conduct the IMPACT review?
Erich]]

He replied with two email(below),including a statement that Bill will make a correction.
Erich

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

----- Original Message -----
From: George Parker
To: Erich Martel
Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2011 9:40 PM
Subject: Re: Harvard group to evaluate DC's IMPACT

No. I called and spoke with Turque tonight. Bill has agreed to do a correction as well. I sent you an email. Please let everyone on your serve know this is not true.
GP

- - - - - - - - - --
On Jan 22, 2011, at 9:22 PM, Erich Martel wrote:
George,
Did you sign off on Roland Fryer to conduct the IMPACT review?
Erich
Harvard group to evaluate IMPACT
By Bill Turque

----- Original Message -----
From: George Parker
To: Erich Martel
Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2011 9:37 PM
Subject: Fwd: January 20th Article-Independent Evaluation of IMPACT


FYI. Bill Turque's article on January 20th indicating that I signed -off on a mutually agreed group/person to conduct the independent evaluation of IMPACT is incorrect. I did not sign -off of any such group and please spread the word. I spoke with Turk and he has agreed to post a correction. In addition to speaking with him tonight, I carrfollowed up with the email below.

Thanks,
GP

Begin forwarded message:


From: George Parker
Date: January 22, 2011 9:29:37 PM EST
To: Bill Turque

Subject: January 20th Article-Independent Evaluation of IMPACT

Bill,
Your article on January 20th contained incorrect information regarding my signing off on a mutually agreeable person/group to conduct the independent evaluation of IMPACT prior to leaving office. When I left office, the WTU and DCPS had not yet signed off on any person/group to conduct the independent evaluation. I request that you correct this misinformation immediately as no such sign-off occurred. Please feel free to contact me on my cell if you need to discuss further.

Your immediate action is requested.

Thanks,

George Parker
Former, WTU President

Posted by: ehmartel | January 22, 2011 10:19 PM | Report abuse

TO: WTU MEMBERS PLEASE TAKE NOTICE:

From: George Parker

Date: January 22, 2011 10:54:17 PM EST

To: Nathan Saunders , nasaunders@aol.com

Cc: President Randi Weingarten , Organization & Field Services Al Squire Regional Director

Subject: RE: Independent Evaluation of IMPACT

Nathan,


As I recommended to you in one of my earlier emails, it is critically important that you to contact and clarify/verify with me the status of any issues regarding contract implementation or language intent before reaching conclusions based on DCPS statements alone. The assertion in the Post that I signed-off on Fryer or any other person(s) to conduct the Independent Evaluation of IMPACT is incorrect. I have not sign-off on any such mutual agreement. I have indicated to you that I will be available to update you on any issue to assist you in your transition. I don't know why you failed to simply contact me on such an important issue to ascertain the validity of such a claim. Once again I offer to meet with you, as we had previously agreed, to update you on this and other critically important issues. In addition I again recommend that you contact me to verify or obtain clarification or get a status update on any important issues that you will have to address -and there are many.


The fact that the claim that I had signed off on Mr. Fryer as the 'Independent Evaluator " of IMPACT was apparently accepted by you as fact without any verification with me or at least obtaining a copy of such "non-existent " agreement is shocking to me. Regardless of the status of our personal relationship, I have repeated to you more than once that I will assist you in anyway I can to help you successfully represent our members. I have no interest in seeing you fail as WTU President.


The IMPACT issue is much bigger than you and me and a simple call would have provided you critically important information before you commented or made any decision regarding next steps: I did not sign-off on any agreement identifying Mr. Fryer or any other person (s) as the mutually agreed independent evaluator(s) of IMPACT .


I hope you accept this communication in the genuine spirit in which it is written and not as a personal criticism or attack on you personally. But when a simple phone call between a former WTU President and the current WTU President could have avoided the confusion and clarified the facts, I think we both owe it to our members to put our personal differences aside and communicate as needed.


Again, I offer my assistance in any way it is needed to help you succeed in successfully representing our members.


George Parker
Former WTU President


=

Posted by: helluvateacher | January 23, 2011 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Either ehmartel and helluvateacher have incredibly active imaginations, or Turque got scooped!

I eagerly await the official Washington Post version of this developing story.

Posted by: efavorite | January 23, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I wish it weren't true, but part of the Rheeform culture seems to be less than truthful. Statements that support your ideology and position are the ones they make, not necessarily factual ones. It would not surprise me at all for DCPS under her or her acolytes to claim that WTU had approved this when they hadn't.

Posted by: Mulch5 | January 23, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Turque
You are slacking on the job- George Parker did not leave office in early December 2010. He was ousted in a long awaited WTU election on November 30, 2010 by now WTU President Nathan Saunders and WTU General VP Candi Peterson who took office December 1, 2010. What's up with your fact checking????

Parker is a liar plain & simple Turque, why are you even entertaining him????

Posted by: teacherspet | January 23, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The current WTU is not in favor of ED labs. Dont get it twisted.

Posted by: teacherspet | January 23, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

To GP

I see nothing in Nathan's response that would give you the impression he is putting out false information.

His statements "Nathan Saunders, said this afternoon he knew nothing about Fryer until a few days ago, when he approached DCPS about starting the process of selecting an independent IMPACT evaluator.

Saunders said he had serious questions about Fryer's suitability for such a critical task, especially in light of his status as "a recent contractor" with DCPS who is "very friendly toward the Rhee agenda."

"This is absolutely not a dead issue," Saunders said.

George this is a cheap attack against Nathan and you should be upset with your close friends at DCPS. GO home and keep quite.

Posted by: guylady201001 | January 23, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

To axoloti, goldgirl96, and cbr1:

Do us all a favor and re-read Turque's blog entry in its entirety before you post again. How is it that all three of you (if I believe the fact that you are three different people) are misreading Bill's blog entry?

The current union president, Saunders, did not sign off on this "mutual agreement". DCPS asserts that the former president, Parker, signed off on it!

You all disgust me when you talk about the fact that teachers can't write....I clearly see that you three can't read!

Posted by: teachdc | January 23, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

to efavorite

Turque got scooped! He didn't even have the document that was supposedly signed. DCPS will lie on anybody! The whole world saw and heard Rhee lie on Oprah. She fooled the first lady of t.v. Oprah! So you know DCPS can definetly fool Turque.

I am waiting for the correction to come out also. It will appear this week according to Turque. I believe Turque is trying to get all the documents together.

Posted by: helluvateacher | January 23, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company