Teacher Evaluations in DC Help Teachers and Students

teacherAfter three years, Washington D.C.’s IMPACT evaluation system for teachers is improving teacher performance and benefiting students. The results (reported by Democrats for Education Reform) are noteworthy for their success and because teacher evaluations are a pillar of Gov. Tom Corbett’s education reform agenda.

IMPACT assigns teachers one of four grades: highly effective, effective, minimally effective and ineffective, using student performance, instructional quality and how well a teacher collaborates with other teachers and involves students’ families. Teachers deemed minimally effective have two years to improve.

IMPACT’s incentives worked: More than half of teachers who received a “minimally effective” rating and who stayed in the district improved enough to receive an “effective” rating the following year.

Pennsylvania’s public school teacher evaluation system is weak: Teachers are rated either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory,” and 99.4 percent of teachers in 2009-10 were rated satisfactory (this when only 40 percent of 8th-graders can read or write at grade level).

Rep. Ryan Aument has introduced legislation to reform the commonwealth’s teacher evaluations, increasing rating categories from two to four and making student achievement account for half of an educator’s overall score. As the experience of IMPACT shows, strong teacher evaluation matters as much for teachers as it does students.