Although the main purpose of the District’s new teacher evaluation system is to rate teachers’ effectiveness, officials are beginning to use the fresh troves of data it generates for other purposes, such as assessing administrators and determining which universities produce the best- or least-prepared teachers, reports the Washington Post.

“There are hundreds of human capital questions you need to answer to effectively run a school district,” said Jason Kamras, personnel chief for D.C. public schools and the main architect behind the evaluation system, called IMPACT. “And for the first time, we have really good data allowing us to answer those questions. There is a bigger picture we are now able to understand.”

Across the country, education reformers have been pressing for more rigorous, quantifiable ways to evaluate teachers, and the District’s new system is in the vanguard of that movement, even as unions and education experts question its merits. Now in its second year, IMPACT uses five classroom observations to rate how effective a teacher is in nine standards – including explaining content clearly and engaging students – deemed essential to good teaching. Certain teachers are also judged on whether their students’ test scores sufficiently improve – a metric known as “value-added.” All of the numbers are crunched into a teacher’s annual rating, ranging from ineffective to highly effective…

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staff and wire services reports