A Positive IMPACT on Student Success

For Education Next, Thomas S. Dee and James Wyckoff examined the consequences of IMPACT, an effort by the District of Colombia Public Schools (DCPS) to set standards for high-quality instruction and retain and reward teachers based on their individual performance assessment. The researchers found that, under IMPACT, DCPS saw dramatic improvements in teaching quality which resulted in positive consequences for students.

Dee and Wyckoff pointed out that IMPACT was one of many policy reforms to occur over the past ten years to link teacher evaluations and ratings with student achievement. Though two-thirds of U.S. states revised the teacher evaluation process between 2009 and 2015, most states saw little to no change in the percentages of teachers deemed ineffective. IMPACT breaks this pattern; “in 2009‒10 and 2010‒11, 14 percent of teachers were rated ‘highly effective,’ 69 percent of teachers were rated ‘effective,’ 14 percent were judged ‘minimally effective,’ and another 2 percent were deemed ‘ineffective.’” Teachers rated “ineffective” were dismissed, and those rated “minimally effective” were given a year to raise their score. Conversely, teachers ranked “highly effective” were eligible for a bonus; teachers working in high-poverty schools and teaching high-needs subjects were eligible for the largest raises. Dee and Wyckoff found that “student achievement increased as a result” of DCPS’ efforts and that, “under a robust system of performance evaluation, the turnover of teachers can generate meaningful gains in student outcomes, particularly for the most disadvantaged students.”

At Students Matter, we believe that great teachers have the power to make a difference for their students — not just in the classroom, but in their lifetime success. Every child, regardless of his or her background, deserves to have access to quality teachers. By rewarding and retaining excellent teachers — and holding those accountable who are failing our children — we can create an education system that gives every child a great teacher and gives teachers the respect they deserve.