Amber Northern, writing for the Fordham Institute, recently explored research on the latest iteration of the District of Columbia’s teacher evaluation system and found that continuous, thoughtful changes to the system have resulted in sustained improvements in teacher effectiveness in the city. Excerpts of the piece appear below:
In their recent report, researchers Tom Dee, Jessalynn James, and James Wyckoff ask a key question: How has the District of Columbia’s evaluation system, IMPACT, evolved in recent years, and has this evolution continued to strengthen the teacher workforce there?
Key changes in “IMPACT 3.0” include reducing the percentage of the final rating attributed to individual value added from 50 to 35 percent; eliminating school-level value added; and allowing teachers in tested grades, just like those in non-tested grades, to choose a “teacher selected assessment” to comprise part of their rating-as opposed to only using PARCC scores (which is D.C.’s “state” test). IMPACT 3.0 also made use of new performance-based career ladders that helped determine base pay increases and initiated incentives to teach in the forty most demanding schools in the district.
Key to this study, IMPACT 3.0 also introduced higher performance standards for lower-performing teachers. Specifically, it included a new performance category called “Developing” that was added to the existing ratings by dividing the Effective category in half, with the lower portion comprising the new category. As always, teachers with one or two consecutive Minimally Effective ratings were to be let go. But in IMPACT 3.0, teachers with three consecutive Developing ratings would also be let go.
Key findings include the following:
IMPACT 3.0 is effective in inducing low-performing teachers to voluntarily exit. Attrition among Effective (15 percent each year) and Highly Effective (10 percent each year) teachers is much lower.
Among those who remained in DCPS, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of Developing teachers improved to Effective or Highly Effective two years later.