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Reactions to Rhee

Valerie Strauss, in the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog, argues that D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's decision to fire 165 teachers for poor performance last week was driven by a dubious teacher-evaluation system. Called IMPACT, the system is designed to gauge teacher effectiveness based on a combination of test score data and classroom observations. But in practice, according to Strauss, neither measure can be considered terribly reliable:

The overall impact of IMPACT is not only unfair but not likely to do the job it is supposed to do: Root out bad teachers. Some great teachers are likely to be tossed out, and others, who know how to play along when the observers come in but don't do much when they aren't, could get a pass.

On the other hand, a Newsweek political blog--after suggesting that Rhee's bold action is validation for the magazine's infamous cover story on the need to fire bad teachers--states confidently that IMPACT "was designed by Rhee's staff with input from 500 district teachers, and could become a national model." (Emphasis added.)

A local columnist, meanwhile, wonders what all the fuss is about: "Raise your hand if you want your child or grandchild taught by a poorly performing or under-performing teacher. Just as I suspected: no hands." In other words, good riddance. ...

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