Written by Alyson Perschke, with an introduction by Valerie Strauss, for Stauss’s Answer Sheet blog. Read the
entire article here.
Here is a letter that Alyson Perschke, a fourth-grade teacher in D.C. Public Schools, wrote to Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson about her evaluation under the IMPACT assessment system. ….. IMPACT is a system instituted under former chancellor Michelle Rhee which evaluates some teachers in part on the standardized test scores of their students and is largely based on five half-hour evaluations of teaching skills each year by administrators and master teachers.
“I am writing this e-mail to express the discouragement I feel in my career after my final IMPACT score was released. I credit myself as hard-working and dedicated, almost to the point of being a perfectionist, when it comes to my academic and professional life. …..I am proud to carry this pursuit of excellence with me now that I am in the first few years of my career…….My experience with IMPACT throughout this past school year was one of commendation. The scores I received from my five TLF [Teaching and Learning Framework] observations were excellent, leaving me with a 3.92 average (4.0, 4.0, 4.0, 4.0, 3.63).
My administrator and master educators applauded all facets of my teaching and classroom management, and asked that I be willing to be videotaped as an exemplar and to invite teachers struggling with the Teach rubric to visit my classroom. I received various e-mails from yourself and members of DCPS Central Office praising the high quality education I was bringing to my students each day.
I started with DCPS in the August of 2009 as a first-year teacher. My TLF, CSC, and TAS ratings show how in just two years I have nearly perfected what has been asked of me by my employer. Under the Group 2 rubric, my performance would merit a score of 394/400, an achievement that reflects the high level of professionalism you and I both expect of my performance. However, I, unlike the majority of my colleagues, am given much higher expectations as a Group 1 teacher and only earned 322 points. My students performing “as expected” on the DC CAS [D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System] dropped my score from almost flawless to average. My celebrated teaching deserved only a 2.5 for my Individual Value Added (IVA) score. …
Having IVA account for 50% of a Group 1 teacher’s evaluation is excessive. I teach reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, short and long term goal setting, critical thinking, social skills, collaboration, character development, and a love for learning. Using just four mornings worth of data to represent 180 days of teaching and learning is unreliable and insubstantial, a case manifested in the lack of correlation between my 2010-2011 TLF and IVA scores, respectively 3.92 and 2.5. …
The teachers in the “testing grades” are DCPS’s most important tools in showing both the District of Columbia and America the critical changes made in DCPS in recent years. Without equitable and effective ways to assess its teachers and students, DCPS is risking the loss of many talented employees. I will enter my third year as a classroom teacher this week disheartened, questioning my future with DCPS, but still hopeful that significant changes will be made this school year.
Posted: 12:27PM, August 16, 2011
Thanks to Candi Peterson of the Washington Teacher for this guest post. Read the entire post here.
“In DC, fifty-five percent of a teacher’s performance evaluation is tied to student test scores in the testing grades. Prior to getting elected as DC Mayor in 2010, Vincent C. Gray who was then Chairman of the DC City Council stated that there was controversy over IMPACT teacher evaluations after the announcement of 241 teacher firings. At the time, Gray stated that he wanted to look further into the 2010 teacher dismissals. Fast-forward to 2011, we have heard nary a word from Mayor Gray on this issue now that he has been elected as city mayor. I guess with all of the ethical dilemmas the Gray administration has faced during his short tenure as mayor – teachers’ dismissals aren’t the priority they once were while he was campaigning. If Gray doesn’t take the time to review the IMPACT controversy, then shame on him. …
Now is the time to support the end to the test driven culture in Washington, DC and elsewhere. I concur with teachers and parents for education reform that we must demand a call to action and insist on a thorough federal investigation of the extent of cheating in DC Public Schools over the past three years, the causes and the consequences, and needed corrections in our school system culture. This investigation must address specific allegations of erasure and falsification on answer sheets, as well as any district actions that might have encouraged cheating, or that were taken to cover it up. It is also time to call for a moratorium on the IMPACT evaluation system and teacher terminations until a federal probe has been conducted into the DCPS cheating scandal. Anything less would be a real tragedy.”
DC cuts Teacher Mentors, while ranks of new teachers needing assistance swell
The following guest post was submitted to us by Candi Peterson. If you would like to submit a guest post, please email it RheeFirst@gmail.com.
“So it seems that there was another round of DC teacher positions eliminated by the District of Columbia Public Schools. Inside sources report that ten teachers were excessed on July 16, 2011 from the DCPS Mentor Teacher program(formerly known as the Helping Teachers program) . This leaves approximately fifteen DCPS teachers to mentor first and second year teachers citywide in the District.
Given that there is research and literature documenting the importance of mentor teachers, DCPS couldn’t have picked a worse time to reduce their already scanty mentor teacher department. The Center for Inspired Teachers cites a 2006 New Teacher Center report that shows that students whose teachers received strong mentoring support make bigger gains in reading than those in un-mentored classrooms. The New Teacher Center also found that in a comparison of approximately 100 new teachers in three school districts, teachers who received two years of support from mentors, their students made gains comparable to those of students of veteran teachers.”
Are you wondering what those in charge of DCPS could be thinking ? I know I am. So I asked a DCPS mentor teacher how these cuts to DC’s mentor teacher department would affect new teachers. The recently excessed mentor teacher who requested anonymity due to fear of reprisal, had this to say: “New teachers will now have limited support and won’t have that one to one professional and technical guidance that a mentor offers such as organizing teacher classrooms, understanding instruction and data, getting through a typical day and classroom management skills, etc. Our students will suffer in the long run.”
“Are you wondering what those in charge of DCPS could be thinking ? I know I am. So I asked a DCPS mentor teacher how these cuts to DC’s mentor teacher department would affect new teachers. The recently excessed mentor teacher who requested anonymity due to fear of reprisal, had this to say: “New teachers will now have limited support and won’t have that one to one professional and technical guidance that a mentor offers such as organizing teacher classrooms, understanding instruction and data, getting through a typical day and classroom management skills, etc. Our students will suffer in the long run.”
Now that data is available from the US Department of Education’s (DOE) Office on Civil Rights, we can see educational trends across school districts in the U.S. Based on 2009 DOE data, 42% of teachers in the District of Columbia have two years or less of teaching experience while only 10% of teachers have less than two years in Fairfax County Public Schools and Montgomery County Public Schools, which are much larger school districts. I would venture to guess that other school districts like our suburban counterparts recognize the importance of teacher mentoring programs and would fight to the death to keep these types of programs in place even during a tight economy.
If we want real transformative change in public education, then we must first be honest about what’s happening in our public schools, we must stop supporting knee-jerk administrative decisions to cut valuable programs which are not in the best interest of teachers or students, and we must stand together with other Americans in a national Call to Action rally to save our schools on July 30, 2011 on the Ellipse. Hope to see you there.”
Posted: 12:45PM, July 21, 2011
Updated: 4:10PM, July 25, 2011
Written by Bill Turque for the Washington Post. Read the entire article here.
“As hundreds of D.C. teachers await annual evaluations that could trigger their dismissals this month, attorneys for the District and the local teachers union are battling in court over what parts of the performance appraisal — if any — can be legally challenged. …
Similar legal disputes are unfolding across the country as cities and states attempt to toughen evaluations by holding teachers more accountable for raising student achievement.
Critics cite the location of top-rated teachers as evidence that IMPACT disadvantages instructors in schools with high rates of poverty and other social problems. Just 5 percent of the “highly effective” teachers work in Ward 8, the city’s most impoverished area, while 22 percent are in Ward 3, the most prosperous.”
Posted:3:20PM, July 1, 2011
The IMPACT teacher evaluation system was designed by Michael Moody, the then Interim Chief Academic Officer for DC’s Public Schools. While Moody still occupied his DC post his company, Insight Education Group, sold IMPACT to DC, receiving $2.23 million in contracts from May of 2008 to January of 2010.
Written by Sam Dillon for the New York Times. Read the entire article here.
“The evaluation system, known as Impact, is disliked by many unionized teachers but has become a model for many educators…[T]housands of school districts are overhauling the way they grade teachers, and many have sent people to study Impact.
Its admirers say the system, a centerpiece of the tempestuous three-year tenure of Washington’s former schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, has brought clear teaching standards to a district that lacked them and is setting a new standard by establishing dismissal as a consequence of ineffective teaching.
But some educators say it is better at sorting and firing teachers than at helping struggling ones; they note that the system does not consider socioeconomic factors in most cases and that last year 35 percent of the teachers in the city’s wealthiest area, Ward 3, were rated highly effective, compared with 5 percent in Ward 8, the poorest. …
A veteran teacher who said he did not want to criticize the school system openly, said that a month after he inherited a chaotic world history class from a long-term substitute, the visiting evaluator cut him no slack for taking on the assignment and penalized him because a student was texting during the lesson.
Another teacher who expects to lose her job next month because of low ratings said at a public hearing that evaluators picked apart her seventh-grade geography lessons, making criticisms she considered trivial. During the most recent observation, her evaluator subtracted points because she had failed to notice a girl eating during class, the teacher said.
“I’m 25 years in the system, and before, I always got outstanding ratings,” she said. “How can you go overnight from outstanding to minimally effective?”"
Posted: 10:49AM, June 28, 2011
The following excerpt is from an article by Bill Turque for the Washington Post. Read the original here.
“[Former principal Bill Kerlina] signed on just as Rhee was rolling out the IMPACT evaluation system, which called for five classroom observations to assess criteria such as clarity of presentation, content knowledge and ability to teach children with varying skill levels. Some teachers would be held accountable for student growth on standardized tests. Those with poor evaluations were subject to dismissal.
It was a major change.Kerlina said he was surprised when he heard it would not be tried on a pilot basis, which was standard practice in Montgomery. He said he came to believe that the initiative offered virtually no provisions to help teachers improve.
“The reform, in my opinion, is getting rid of people,” he said.”
Posted: 9:57AM, June 28, 2011