New York City begins using teacher evaluations this school year, but cities such as Washington D.C. have been using a teacher evaluation system for several years. Michelle Rhee, the CEO and founder of StudentsFirst, helped establish Impact, a contentious student evaluation program for the entire D.C. public school system.
A new study finds that Impact is making a positive impact on teacher quality in Washington's public schools. According to David Leonhardt in The New York Times, the findings show that in a large public school system such as NYC's, teacher evaluations are raising teacher quality and weeding out low-performing teachers:
The study found that Impact caused more low-performing teachers to leave the school system than otherwise would have been expected. The program also seemed to improve teaching quality - as measured by classroom observations and test scores - of teachers with both strong and weak evaluation scores.
"High-powered incentives linked to multiple indicators of teacher performance can substantially improve the measured performance of the teaching work force," conclude the researchers, Thomas Dee of Stanford University's Graduate School of Education and James Wyckoff of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Evaluation programs, they add, can bring "substantive and long-term educational and economic benefits" both by “avoiding the career-long retention of the lowest-performing teachers and through broad increases in teacher performance."