How Does Washington D.C.’s Teacher Accountability System Work?

Reporter Mr. Bones:  “How did you find economic conditions in Europe?”
Charles Foster Kane:  “How did I find economic conditions in Europe, Mr. Bones? With great difficulty.”
–“Citizen Kane”, 1941

Somewhat lost in the maelstrom of news about the Washington D.C. schools and its attempt to tie teacher jobs/pay to student performance has been any description about how the system, “IMPACT”, actually works.

This is understandable as it is much easier to simply focus on “241 teachers lose jobs in D.C.”, and, besides, not everyone is a teacher and/or cares about the minutiae of details concerning the system that has led to all this brouhaha and teacher firings.

But as this is supposedly an “education blog”, it is perhaps incumbent that we step deep into the edu-buzzword-infested muck and start to answer a question a few of us might have. Namely: How does it work?

I did a bit of digging around and came across a repository of buzzword-filled .pdfs that outline IMPACT, with “guidebooks” included for just about every teacher-related job description possible.  Two warnings to those entering these waters:

  1. The intensity and density of educational jargon present in these documents could cause a K-12 teacher reading them at the end of a summer vacation to immediately quit their job and change their profession to that of “raving lunatic” (which probably pays better than most teaching jobs anyway).
  2. Those not familiar with the wildcat oil well of gushing edu-buzzwords present in these documents will not understand at least 80%  of what is trying to be communicated.  The average American would comprehend more from an issue of Le Monde or Frankfurter Allgemeine than from this stuff.

Proceed with caution.  On the other hand, those who really, REALLY eat this stuff up and wouldn’t mind doing it eight hours a day can apply for a job in the rapidly growing field of hatchet-wielding teacher accountability bureaucrats.

One wonders if 95% of all new jobs in K-12 education will be those in accountability oversight and standardized test construction/scoring  by 2012 or so.   Well, “wonders if” isn’t the right phrase exactly.  More like “can be certain” than “wonders if” to be precise.


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