Evaluation of Effectiveness : District of

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Evaluation of Effectiveness : District of Columbia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/DC-Evaluation-of-Effectiveness--8

Analysis of District of Columbia's policies

The District of Columbia does not require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

Currently, the District does not have a policy regarding teacher evaluations.

However, the IMPACT system, district-level policy implemented by the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), represents significant policy advancements in the area of teacher evaluation. IMPACT requires that a teacher's impact on students' achievement accounts for 50 percent of the evaluation score. Classroom observations are required, and the evaluator must utilize the following multiple evaluation rating categories: highly effective, effective, minimally effective and ineffective.


Recommendations for District of Columbia

Require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.
The District of Columbia should codify the evaluation requirements articulated in DCPS's IMPACT system, both to support these important policies and to ensure their continuity. 

Ensure that evaluations also include classroom observations that specifically focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
In addition to codifying the classroom observation requirement in DCPS's IMPACT system, the District should further articulate guidelines that focus classroom observations on the quality of instruction, as measured by student time on task, student grasp or mastery of the lesson objective and efficient use of class time.

Utilize rating categories that meaningfully differentiate among various levels of teacher performance.
To ensure that the evaluation instrument accurately differentiates among levels of teacher performance, the District of Columbia should codify IMPACTS's requirement of multiple rating categories.

State response to our analysis

The District of Columbia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The District added that Race to the Top LEAs must include a common value-added measure that comprises at least 50 percent of the evaluation rating for reading and mathematics teachers in grades 4-8. There are 31 participating charter LEAs and DCPS, and 91 percent of public school students are enrolled in Race to the Top LEAs.

The District also noted that DCPS is only one LEA in the District, which has about 75,000 enrolled students, with roughly 30,000 in charters and 45,000 in DCPS. 

Last word

Establishing state-level policy would ensure that these current policies continue even after the Race to the Top grant comes to an end or if circumstances at the district level were to change.

Research rationale

Reports strongly suggest that most current teacher evaluations are largely a meaningless process, failing to identify the strongest and weakest teachers. The New Teacher Project's report, "Teacher Hiring, Assignment and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools (CPS)" (July2007) at: http://www.tntp.org/files/TNTPAnalysis-Chicago.pdf, found that the CPS teacher performance evaluation system at that time did not distinguish strong performers and was ineffective at identifying poor performers and dismissing them from Chicago schools. See also Brian Jacobs and Lars Lefgren, "When Principals Rate Teachers," Education Next (Spring 2006). Similar findings were reported for a larger sample in The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) at: http://widgeteffect.org/.  See also MET Project (2010). Learning about teaching: Initial findings from the measures of effective teaching project. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A Pacific Research Institute study found that in California, between 1990 and 1999, only 227 teacher dismissal cases reached the final phase of termination hearings. The authors write: "If all these cases occurred in one year, it would represent one-tenth of 1 percent of tenured teachers in the state. Yet, this number was spread out over an entire decade." In Los Angeles alone, over the same time period, only one teacher went through the dismissal process from start to finish. See Pamela A. Riley, et al., "Contract for Failure," Pacific Research Institute (2002).
That the vast majority of districts have no teachers deserving of an unsatisfactory rating does not seem to correlate with our knowledge of most professions that routinely have individuals in them who are not well suited to the job. Nor do these teacher ratings seem to correlate with school performance, suggesting teacher evaluations are not a meaningful measure of teacher effectiveness. For more information on the reliability of many evaluation systems, particularly the binary systems used by the vast majority of school districts, see S. Loeb et al, "Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added." The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality (2010). 

There is growing evidence suggesting that standards-based teacher evaluations that include multiple measures of teacher effectiveness—both objective and subjective measures—correlate with teacher improvement and student achievement. For example see T. Kane et al, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness." Education Next Vol 11 No. 3 (2011); E. Taylor and J. Tyler, "The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-Career Teachers." National Bureau of Economic Research (2011); as well as Herbert G. Heneman III, et al., "CPRE Policy Brief: Standards-based Teacher Evaluation as a Foundation for Knowledge- and Skill-based Pay," Consortium for Policy Research, 2006.