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School of Education Provides Analysis of D.C. Public Schools' Teacher Evaluation Program

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Corbin M. Campbell will coordinate the research, which will be conducted by a cross-section of AU’s School of Education faculty who focus on K-12 teachers and/or education policy and evaluation.

American University’s School of Education will provide an evidence-based, independent and objective analysis for District of Columbia Public Schools as the school district conducts a comprehensive review of IMPACT, its longstanding performance evaluation system for teachers. In the fall, DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee announced an examination of IMPACT to identify areas for improvement, while ensuring teachers get the support they need and are held to consistent and high teaching standards. American University is the only local university partnering with DCPS on the research.

“DC Public Schools’ IMPACT teacher evaluation system has served as a national model, and research shows that it leads to improved teacher quality and more student learning,” said D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “With American University’s expertise and third-party perspective, I am confident that we will enhance our performance evaluation system in a way that best meets the needs of our educators, students, and schools.”

The research will be conducted by a cross-section of AU’s School of Education faculty who focus on K-12 teachers and/or education policy and evaluation. The research will focus on incorporating teachers’ perspectives about IMPACT, through qualitative interviews of about 30 to 50 randomly selected teachers who agree to participate. Participating teachers will represent a cross section of wards, school levels, teacher experience, and teacher effectiveness, among other characteristics. To remain independent, the School of Education will not receive any DCPS funding for this research.

Corbin M. Campbell, associate dean of academic affairs and associate professor, who is coordinating the research, said, “The newly independent School of Education at AU is partnering with DCPS on the IMPACT evaluation as a part of our commitment to the local D.C. community and excellence and equity in education.” This work is another example of American University’s partnership with the D.C. community, which is one of the key pillars of the university’s Changemakers for a Changing World strategic plan.

Importantly, as part of the review, AU will participate in DCPS’ convening of national experts to discuss how to improve the system, with inclusion of a representative from the Washington Teachers’ Union. DCPS has begun gathering information for the review. In the fall, 78 percent of DCPS teachers completed a survey and provided anonymous feedback about the evaluation system. All teachers will again have an opportunity to provide feedback through IMPACT-related questions in a further survey to be conducted in the spring. Also, in the spring, Chancellor Ferebee will work with the district’s Teacher and Principal Advisory Boards on potential strategies.

AU’s School of Education has deep ties with DCPS, including, the Teacher Pipeline Project, that started in fall 2018. Under this initiative, AU offers a dual-enrollment program for high-school seniors – the only such offering on AU’s campus and one that is focused on education. It allows high-school students exposure to the education field while earning early college credits alongside undergraduate education students preparing to be teachers. The eventual goal of the dual-enrollment program will be to create a pipeline of highly skilled and diverse teachers between AU and DCPS.

In 2009, DCPS reinvented its teacher evaluation process into a rigorous, multiple measure system that gives all school-based employees clear and actionable feedback. Designed with input from teachers and administrators, this research-based approach to evaluation created a strong performance-based culture across the district. Informed by Chancellor Ferebee’s engagement with DCPS staff and the district’s commitment to ensuring that DCPS continues to attract and retain the best teachers in the nation, DCPS launched a comprehensive review of IMPACT, focused on teacher evaluation, this fall. During this process, DCPS will embark on a multi-year examination of how to update the current performance evaluation system to ensure teachers have the support that they need to succeed and continue to be held to consistent, high standards.