I know at some point I’ve mentioned DC’s teacher evaluation system, IMPACT. As always, there is a lot being written and researched on the subject, including this recent call from the Network for Public Education to assist with a research project.

Cool beans.

I’m not going to add any redundant critique about IMPACT and, more broadly, teacher evaluation. I am opposition to them in their current forms.

Here’s what I will add, however. The IMPACT system, which strictly grades teacher performance on a highly detailed nine-point rubric, does nothing to foster collaboration or cooperation between teachers. It breeds cutthroat competition.

But how?

In the majority of cases, it’s the little things. Teachers will avoid responsibilities or are reluctant to serve more difficult students because they cannot “afford” the effects on “their IMPACT.” Teachers will consider leaving more difficult schools MID-YEAR and transition elsewhere because they can sense that their IMPACT scores will decline if they stay.

Teachers will hoard resources for their classroom, passively denying other classrooms necessarily materials because of some perverse Darwinian ethos. Teachers falsify pre-assessment, or beginning of the year, data, purposely skewing it lower so their students can show more growth throughout the school year. Teachers will falsify end of the year assessments (not state mandated tests) so, again, their students demonstrate more growth.

Teachers will script out lesson plans and perform the scripts when observers come in to the classroom. And by the way, when observers sign in at the office, the office calls down to tell teachers. I’m sure that’s very helpful to get those scripts out. Oh, and another trick: tell the observer that you don’t have time right now for an observation, but later. But not too much later. See, say you’ll have time in 30 minutes. That way, they won’t leave the building and you’ll have time to get ready.

These are tricks that many teachers use to survive. And how do I know about this? When you get DC teachers together, that’s all a lot of them talk about.

But there’s no way to prove or disprove anything I’ve said about IMPACT, or anything that anyone else can say about IMPACT, because the District won’t release any meaningful data on the matter. We are thus free to speculate.


I just received my first email today, an introduction from my “Master Educator” who visits my classroom for 30 minutes, once in the first semester. These observations cause DC teachers considerable anxiety. Despite how much people are told not to sweat it, many still do and talk about them constantly. Each teacher gets two observations […]

Just a little insight on teacher evaluation. Many of the new teacher evaluation schemes are just that, schemes, scams, and games. I have to learn to play this. I have to learn to mislead, dissemble, and lie. That’s a skill that takes time. I’ve never been good at it. Never. Modern teacher evaluations are largely […]

This from the Washington Post.  But an interesting choice of words at the end there: In October, researchers from the University of Virginia and Stanford University who have examined IMPACT reported that its rewards and punishments were shaping the school system workforce, affecting retention and performance. The study found that two groups of teachers were inspired to […]