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D.C. Teacher Evaluation Tool Has Positive Impact On Quality Of Educators

A teacher evaluation tool used in D.C. public schools seems to be working, says a new study.
Karen Apricot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/karenapricot/292761884/
A teacher evaluation tool used in D.C. public schools seems to be working, says a new study.

In D.C. public schools, both students and teachers are tested and assessed to see how well they're doing their job. And according to a new study, a controversial initiative to assess teachers and reward those who excel is having an impact.

A new study from Stanford University and the University of Virginia finds that the teacher assessment tool introduced in 2009 is boosting teacher performance in D.C. public schools. The study says that the evaluation system, known as IMPACT, had no clear effect the first year, but during the second year of its implementation it appears to have caused hundreds of teachers to improve.

Jim Wyckoff, a professor at the University of Virginia and one of the study's co-authors, says that many teachers rated “ineffective” voluntarily left DPCS, while those who stayed “disproportionately” improved. Teachers rated “highly effective” who were eligible for large pay increases showed marked improvement compared to those who weren’t eligible.

Wyckoff says studies focusing on some other school districts that have offered financial incentives linked to student test scores have not found a change in teacher performance. But he says D.C. is different because the financial rewards are “substantial"—bonuses can up to $25,000 a year and increases in base pay can be up to $27,000 a year.

According to Wyckoff, IMPACT works because it has been sustained over several years and isn’t seen by teachers as a temporary experiment. Also, he says, unlike evaluations studied in other cities, IMPACT isn’t just about student test scores, but it also takes into account aspects of teaching that educators directly control, such as whether lessons are clear and well-organized.

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