Jul 17, 2011

The Controversy of IMPACT

Written by Candi Peterson
DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson issued “You’re fired letters" this past week to 206 DC teachers. Before DC teachers knew of their own fate, the mainstream media had received a lengthy DCPS press packet on Friday, July 15 from the Office of the Chancellor (OOC) lauding teacher terminations and celebrating highly effective teachers eligible for merit pay. Bill Turque, staff writer for the Washington Post reported on the details of the DCPS firings as early as July 15. Turque wrote: “Of the 206 fired, D.C. officials said, 65 were rated ineffective this year and 141 were judged minimally effective for the second consecutive year, triggering dismissal.” An additional twenty-one teachers who were effective and/or highly effective were also terminated by DCPS because they could not find a permanent placement.
Friday's teacher firings are a continuation of Michelle Rhee's educational plan to terminate a significant share of the DC teaching workforce while establishing job loss as a likely consequence of poor classroom test scores on standardized tests. In DC, fifty-five percent of a teacher's performance evaluation is tied to student test scores in the testing grades. Prior to getting elected as DC Mayor in 2010, Vincent C. Gray who was then Chairman of the DC City Council stated that there was controversy over IMPACT teacher evaluations after the announcement of 241 teacher firings. At the time, Gray stated that he wanted to look further into the 2010 teacher dismissals. Fast-forward to 2011, we have heard nary a word from Mayor Gray on this issue now that he has been elected as city mayor. I guess with all of the ethical dilemmas the Gray administration has faced during his short tenure as mayor – teachers’ dismissals aren’t the priority they once were while he was campaigning. If Gray doesn’t take the time to review the IMPACT controversy, then shame on him.
Given that USA Today newspaper broke the story on March 28, 2011 that half of all DC Schools likely corrected students mistakes and cheated on standardized tests, one has to wonder why Chancellor Kaya Henderson is moving forward with the dismissal of teachers based on flawed standardized test score data. Unfortunately, it took Henderson three years to finally support an investigation into allegations of a DCPScheating scandal that was previously made known to the Rhee/Henderson administration by former State Superintendent Deborah Gist in 2008. It begs the question, can we really trust that a comprehensive investigation will be completed by the DC Inspector General Charles J. Willoughby who appears to be a one man operation? Given that USA Today newspaper had an entire investigative team of 12 reporters when looking into cheating on standardized tests and former Governor Sonny Perdue had Georgia law enforcement to take over their investigation into the 2010 Atlanta public schools high erasure scandal after he declared a local investigation as “woefully inadequate”, why should we expect anything less in our nation’s capital?

Now is the time to support the end to the test driven culture in Washington, DC and elsewhere. I concur with teachers and parents for education reform that we must demand a call to action and insist on a thorough federal investigation of the extent of cheating in DC Public Schools over the past three years, the causes and the consequences, and needed corrections in our school system culture. This investigation must address specific allegations of erasure and falsification on answer sheets, as well as any district actions that might have encouraged cheating, or that were taken to cover it up. It is also time to call for a moratorium on the IMPACT evaluation system and teacher terminations until a federal probe has been conducted into the DCPS cheating scandal. Anything less would be a real tragedy.

© Candi Peterson 2013


Joe said...

It is a big shame on DCPS and the people of the District of Columbia for allowing all this mess to happen. Moratorium on the IMPACT will come whenever they finish firing majority of African-americans, veteran teachers, teachers that speaks up for their rights (white and black) and the union representatives in some key schools if they speak up. Remember all the injustice done to probationary teachers in 2008 and RIF'D teachers in 2009, nothing is happening about getting their job back. That tells you that this people don't care about anything other than fatten their pockets, promote their agenda of reducing middle class families in DC. MAY GOD CRUSH ALL OF THEM AND SEND THEM TO HELL FIRE because they perform unnecessary injusice acts on workers and the people of the District of Columbia.

Attorney DC said...

Candi - Well said. "It is also time to call for a moratorium on the IMPACT evaluation system and teacher terminations until a federal probe has been conducted into the DCPS cheating scandal. Anything less would be a real tragedy."

Anonymous said...

We have had turnaround after turnaround with the firing of teachers. Test scores are not elevating. It's unfortunate that majority of the teachers are effective, but until the test come back they are ineffective. Perhaps it is the test especially reading since the scores have not increased for the past two years. Or the curriculum does not pair up with the standardized test.

Anonymous said...

This is the "impact" of mayoral control of DC's schools. Firings, terminations, and cheating. I agree that investigations need to be done and many of theses new 'overseers' need to be terminated. What a shameful and toxic environment. Just goes to show what happens when the 'kids' are allowed to play. My other concern is the accountability and culpability of people when it comes to these federal dollars which seems to have caused this erase to the top. haul 'em away. Looking forward to the perp walk. Maybe then, things will change. In the interim everyone loses.

Sheila H. Gill said...

As long as DCPS Education Reform model is “Human Capitol,” Michelle Rhee’s legacy will continue to thrive in DCPS. Henderson is the TFA recruiter in DCPS. She is in her element. Hiring, firing, lying and cheating will continue from the top to the bottom under the DCPS Education Rheeform.

I, also, urge teachers, parents, students, and concerned citizens to call for a moratorium on the Impact evaluation system and demand a thorough federal investigation of the cheating in DCPS, especially Wayne Ryan, former Principal of Noyes ES. It is obvious that the DCPS Education Rheeforms have been erased to the top.

Frankly, I’m encouraging all stakeholders to participate in the Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action on July 30, 2011 in Washington, DC. Please visit the website at http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/ for details.

Enough is Enough!!!

james boutin said...

I also read that DCPS also terminated the entire parent and family engagement staff. Is this true?

Candi Peterson said...

I don't know any details on this but anything is possible.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Candi we need you back desperately. Thanks for reviving The Washington Teacher.

Anonymous said...

Wayne Ryan, former principal of Noyes ES has retired from DCPS. It is a damn shame that someone like that escape prosecution for all cheating that happened at Noyes when he was the principal. Look, he got paid good for cheating on the test scores several times and he's retired with full benefit-What a Swwet deal for him and injustice on the children and residents of the District of Columbia.

Unknown said...

Candi, your exposing the termination of teachers with effective and highly effective scores lets us see the whole IMPACT evaluation piece as a farce. I know of teachers who were caught in this and their recourse was to go to an independent school. They received awards from DCPS to the White House. The craziness of people who have not experienced IMPACT leading the way to these firings is more than questionable. Thanks for your truthfulness.

lovereading said...

It is sad that these practices are continuing. As long as administrations do not change; there will be no change or reform. Also, since when is there so much money hanging around in the System that these huge bonuses are handed out year after year. Teachers need to be paid for their jobs but rewards for false test scores needs to stop. Every year there is a repeat. As one who has been a victim of this type of situation I can attest to what the damage is. If one is honest, willing to work hard he or she is not wanted in the system. Hope you can help!

james boutin said...

Education Week is on it as well:


Brenda said...

Hello Candi,
Thanks for your commentary. I haven not spoken with you since you stepped into your Vice President position. Your father must be extremely proud of you.

Anita said...

I'm deeply saddened to read about IMPACT and how it's used in DCPS. I'm a proponent of school reform but not RHEEform.

I don't understand, as a nonprofit manager not in the education sector, how employees can be deemed ineffective and not given an improvement plan. Especially when the rules say this must be done. In many of my workplaces, if one was given a poor evaluation they were also given steps to improve, professional development offerings, and re-evaluated in 3 or 6 months.

I think this is age discrimination at its highest level and as one over 50 there isn't much that can be done about it immediately. Gotta wait for the creeps to get their karma and the plaintiffs to get recompense.

Anonymous said...

Hi Candi, glad to see you back and responding again. I know that it is difficult to respond to your blog and do your duties as VP, but know that you were/and are truly missed. I retired on June 30th with regret but I felt that I could no longer continue to work in such a punitive and toxic environment as DCPS has become.

Marvin said...

I am afraid that teachers' overwhelming endorsement of their contract paved the way for the continued use of IMPACT. Don't expect a moratorium, but rather more efforts to improve the tool.

Many teachers say, quietly, that IMPACT is not evil, is necessary, and is a lot more objective than the prior eval system--where most people scored great. We know that is a common view, even if not the one that shows up on this blog.

Mr. Gray is a big disappointment for not engaging with education issues. He engages with few issues of any kind, and many departments are poorly managed. Meanwhile, our City Council is a national disgrace and laughingstock.

We need to stop blaming others and acting like victims. To have a Federal investigation of cheating would be a big mistake. It makes us seem like a colony. If we don't have the honest, competent, empowered people to fix this problem, we don't deserve to run our own schools.

Are we ready to fire the DCPS employees found to be cheaters? Sadly, a lot of views seem to be, "oh, let them off because the environment was bad." As a parent, I hope you join me in saying that I don't want such a person teaching my kid or serving as a principal.

We have made a colossal mess of the schools since we got Home Rule. The old Bd. of Ed., prior mayors, the union, every DCPS supt. and other senior officials, parents groups, ill-equipped parents, and Congress all share in the blame.

The state of our schools was not brought about by Congress or evil plots from the outside. That excuse is too tired to use again.

No one sees a pot of gold in DC public education, or even in charters. Why? Because we citizens/parents/taxpayers/DCPS employees make a big mess of almost anything we do to improve the schools. And it is obvious that so many people resist change of any sort.

Our problems are not money. We have enough on paper. But we waste so much, mostly by gross mismanagement and no accountability on almost any level of the schools.

And, getting to plots, no business entrepreneur in his/her right mind would want to make money here. We make it far too hard and messy. Greed may be a factor--on the part of employees demanding raises--but this is no gold mine. Rather it is a graveyard for businesses.

Stop blaming others. We need to pull up our socks, fire the incompetent and the cheaters, get the Council fixed, put pressure on Gray to get things done. He might have to terminate Henderson, but he better have a stronger replacement ready to step into the cauldron of our City.

Don't expect a savior from the outside. We can only fix things ourselves.

Robert said...

Thanks, Candi, for your balanced viewpoint. As a veteran Virginia teacher who seeks to teach in DC, I see IMPACT as a tool to keep effective teachers and to dismiss ineffective teachers. The evaluations are basically empirical and there are at least five of them through the academic year. No harm there! The other dimension of a teacher's evaluation is tied to the test scores of the students. This invites much controversy because not all students are created academically equal. However, the awesome challenge before each teacher is to bring all resources (i.e., interventions, parents) together very early in the school year to ensure the success of each child. Success will never be 100% in each classroom, but will apply to the majority of students. Therefore, identifying and referring students who are performing well below where they should be academically is a priority. It also says that other teachers (or principals) in the last year or two failed to do their job properly -- because the question is: How do failed students get promoted to or placed in the next grade? The general public asks: How is it that a sixth grade student cannot read?

I am aware of the research that says that detaining a student who fails in one grade does not help the student succeed. I am also aware of the hard fact that promoting the student to the next grade is grand mockery to the entire school system and serves only to set the student up for failure

Candi Peterson said...

The problem is if someone cheated last year on the standardized tests and made students appear higher than what they really were, the following year- a teacher who inherits these students could be fired because the scores appear to have gone down significantly. As a result we have had educators fired unfairly.

I pose the question what is the solution to this problem? Do people want teachers fired based on flawed data?

Anonymous said...

I was at DCPS for a year with an out of state certification. It was written in plain print that I should have been able to get a DCPS certification by reciprocity, but the certification person said she could not do so because I was at Bell Multicultural HS where the principal had her own rules and regulations. At the time, no one could comprehend it. I am glad I left DCPS and was able to salvage my certification by teaching in MD.
Ten years forward and I am hearing that what happened to me is now a common practice in DCPS and charter schools; in addition, IMPACT is a tool to get rid of teachers, as the evaluator can come unannounced, in the middle of a class, stay in the classroom for as little as 5 minutes and decide if the teacher is being effective or not.
And the union is not able to do anything about it ???

Candi Peterson said...

Anonymous @ 11:16 - Your facts about Master Educators are not quite right. They are required to observe teachers for 30 minutes for 2 observations yearly. Failure to follow the IMPACT guidelines- if teachers request assistance from the union- we can get these kinds of violations thrown out.

I would recommend that if teachers experience problems with the certification office- they discuss these issues with their WTU Field Representative to see what the union can do to help. Don't assume nothing can't be done. Get the facts is my recommendation.

Candi Peterson said...


I did want to make it clear that teachers have 3 observations by the school's principal and 2 by the Master Educator for the entire year.

Congress took away the right for the union to have input into the design of teachers evaluation. This does not mean that the Union can't address this flawed document on political fronts. There are 12 ways to skin a cat. Our goal is to have a teacher evaluation that is fair, objective and has been piloted.

Candi Peterson said...

Reply to Marvin:
I don't agree with those that think that IMPACT is a fair evaluative tool. My first problem is that it was never piloted. Secondly it continues to be changed each year and there are numerous problems with it let alone inadequate professional development.

One area I have a real problem with is Core Professionalism. This is what I call the Gotcha area. A principal can subjectively decide to take points from a teacher or service provider for a host of subjective reasons with no real guidelines. A case in point is a teacher had 20 points taken off because an administrator wrote in his evaluation report the teacher is mean. This accusation was never presented to the teacher or substantiated and the teacher didn't have the opportunity to disagree, appeal/challenge this evaluative comment before the evaluation scores were submitted by the principal.

In Reply to Marvin's comment: Are we ready to fire the DCPS employees found to be cheaters? I'm ready for a federal investigation into the cheating scandal. It is unethical that the Rhee and Henderson were well aware that a suspicion of cheating occurred in 2008 and did not do what was necessary to address this. Now this failure to investigate may have led to ongoing cheating during the years in questions and ultimately has had an impact on teachers losing their jobs based on flawed data.

We cannot protect employees if they are found guilty of cheating whether they be managers or front line workers. This would be illegal, unethical and unconscionable.

Marvin said...


Am glad you clearly agree that teachers or principals found to have erased/cheated on the kids tests need to be fired.

I wish you were against a Federal intervention. We need to act as a city. To invite the feds in, or give them the opening to barge in, just makes us seem like a colony and incompetent.

Let's push the Mayor and Council to appoint an outside special counsel, with a staff that includes an officer with subpoena power, to conduct an investigation. We should stop the useless and wasteful investigatory efforts by DCPS, the IG, the hapless "attorney general" (who gave in to Thomas) and save some money. Let's see if the Mayor and Mr. SUV Brown have some cojones.

Anonymous said...

To James Boutin 7/20/11 @6:15 p.m.
I'm not sure if Parent and Family Engagement is the same as Parent Centers in each ward, if they are then this the information that I read on 7/20/11.........
According to the article staff at parent centers in Wards 1,7,and 8 are among some that were fired. The article continued to say that the centers were going to be reopened in the fall with the help of "Community Partners." A community meeting is being held on Aug. 4@6 p.m. place TBD.

Linguaphile said...

Marvin said: "No one sees a pot of gold in DC public education, or even in charters."

You're mistaken. A place that is mismanaged is a pot of gold for businesses. You can sucker them into paying for all kinds of goods and services that they may not need.

DCPS currently contracts with a company called ANET to teach teachers how to analyze test scores and bring them up. Teachers at my school felt this was a waste of time last year as the company's help was minimal and their track record is not that strong, from what I know.

Why not hire more experienced teachers to provide extra support for students? Because there are no companies pitching that service.

Companies are pitching their tech gadgets, programs, trainings, etc. So DCPS continues to spend on those things.

DC has shown that it is not capable of running it's own school system. That's not the fault of private citizens who truly care about kids and would lead the schools for free if they could. For some reason, in DC, many people just cannot handle leadership but they put on a good show and end up there (cough, Rhee, cough).


Linguaphile said...


I hope you make it into DCPS. I would love to hear your views a year from now.

Anonymous said...

Robert@3:34 on 7/23/11 Hi Robert, How much of a veteran are you? Are you over 30? Good luck!!! You obviously have not heard that being a veteran teacher in DCPS is not a good place to be. Over the past 3 years under the Rhee/Henderson regime there has been a systematic and methodical manner (IMPACT) used to rid the system of veteran teachers. If you are over 30 and you have taught already over 15-20 years and you are hired then I will not need to ask my next question, I will know the answer!!!! Oh, I forgot another important point that is important under this R/H regime, teaching is not a "career". You are only expected to teach 2 years and 3 at the most in DCPS. So, Robert I hope to hear from you soon to let me know if you are hired.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with anonyous Robert, hope you are not over 30 because it is a known fact tht you will not be welcomed. Unless you are the right nationality. How long have you taught in Virginia? Veterans are those whose have taught for 10-20 years. You need to read the article about the former principal of Hearst who spoke about all of the shady dealings that are going in DCPS.

Anonymous said...

Hi Candi,

I am sorry to hear this has happened. I am an 19 year vet in DCPS, which is a rarity. I am not surprised that this has happened. WTU has been full of corruption since I started teaching. What if anything can we do to express our disdain and get some changes? How will this impact the 2013 contract negotiations? I am afraid if I stick around DCPS every union president will sell us down the river. I've withdrawn my membership in the past after the Bullock scandal and not much improved. I was hoping others would follow suit and the truth is we teachers do not stick together. I wonder how much of a kick back Nathan is getting, so sad.

Anonymous said...

Hi Candi, I know that there isn't much that can be done about the problems that I have observed in many schools but on behalf of many of my colleagues I feel that it needs to be said. I don't know if this is going on in all of the schools and clusters, but I know for a fact that in one cluster it is the "staus quo". Teachers are under so much stress that it is unbelieveable. There are administrators and other designated people walking into classrooms almost on a daily basis sitting for 30 to 45 minutes writing up what they observed but are not considering them as formal observations. Then the cluster sups. doing the same same things. Then you have the regular observers that are also coming in randomly for IMPACT. How the hell can a teacher be comfortable and effective when they have all of these people in their classroooms all of the time. The work load is
unbelievable with many teachers staying late into the night planning and then going home doing more planning. I could go on and on listing some of the horrible conditions that my colleagues are forced to work under but if I continue then I'm sure that people would know where I'm talking about. I can't believe that this is going on in other schools or parts of the city. The staff are being threatened with writing negative remarks on their IMPACT when they are unable to meet some of the unreasonable deadlines imposed on them by a group of people that are so far removed from the day to day routines in classrooms. Teachers are so afraid of being rated ineffective and/or losing their jobs, that they are enduring all of this stress in silence. No job should have you feeling this stressed out everyday. Teaching in these particular schools has caused teachers to be overworked, not appreciate and mentally exhausted. Many teachers and staff are experiencing stress related health problems. My advice to them is to start documenting the conditions under which they are working so that they will be able to claim stress related illnesses when they break down or their families can sue the system if their loved ones "GOD forbide" dies. These are highly qualified and effective teachers who are probably at this point beginning to doubt their effectiveness. These working conditions are so, so very bad and no one should be expected to work in these conditions.Maybe they need to contact Attorney DC. I know that there is really nothing that can be done for these teachers because they are not willing at this time to come forth and let their situation be known to the union, but when some one has a breakdown whether mental or physical then everyone will know where this is happening unless this is happening all over the city, which I doubt. Please if there are other teachers having these same issues please shout too.
Candi sorry for the length of this post but it needed to be put out there and maybe someone will have the courage to speak up.

Anonymous said...

Well Candi here I go again. I am your commenter from 10/8/11@6:15AM.
I'm so sad to say that some of the predictions that I made about what could happen to educators under so much stress has happened to some of my colleagues. I have never heard about so many dedicated educators ready to walk off their jobs due to the stress, their ratings, their admins. and just the plain work load being imposed on them. This is such a sad state of affairs. I have many colleagues who didn't come out in 2011 who are most certainly coming out in 2012. This will leave the system pretty much without many Black veteran teachers. Not to long ago I a saw where they have created a title for Jason Karamas?? Now called the Czar of Human Capital or something like that. However, what disturbed me most in the article where I read this was that the Czar said that his primary goal was to fix it so that over 75% of the teachers in the city would have 50% of their IMPACT evaluation be based on test scores. Nothing about improving student achievement or improving upon this flawed evaluation tool, just how to include more educators in the IVA component where 50% of their score will be based on test scores. Again I say "what a sad state of afffairs". Our children in high proverty area are the ones that are suffering while these "Rheeformers" are "Deforming" our DC schools. It has been shown in one set of data after another that the achievement gag between Black and White students is getting larger and larger each since the Rhee/Henderson regime.

Candi Peterson said...

January 5 Anonymous

Thanks for your post- you are so right on. These so called education deformers like Rhee, Henderson & Kamras are not about improving student achievement. Look at the name Human Capital. Remember the primary goal of Rhee's education plan was to get rid of a significant share of the teaching workforce & create a revolving door workforce. I have always maintained that they want to put $$$$$ (millions) into the hands of groups like TFA & New Teacher Project (Rhee's ole' stomping grounds) & others. What they really want is their hands on our education dollars & to make a name for themselves even if it's under false pretenses.