Sarah Wysocki Washington DC teacher effectiveness assessment

Occurred: February 2012

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Sarah Wysocki, a 5th grade Washington DC public school teacher was fired for receiving a poor evaluation, resulting in a heated controversy about the accuracy, fairness, value, and transparency of the region's teacher performance evaluation system. 

At the time, District of Columbia Public Schools' IMPACT teacher evaluation system used test scores from schools under investigation for cheating to calculate so-called 'value-added scores' that would be incorporated into teacher evaluations. Yet teachers risked having students enter their classes with falsely inflated scores, making it difficult to meet higher expectations.

Wyosecki had earned excellent observation ratings and was highly regarded by peers and parents. However, she received an uncharacteristically low value-added score and was subsequently fired, despite evidence the evaluation generated by the algorithm was based on falsified student scores.

Her appeal against her dismissal failed, though she was quickly offered a position with another school system.

Operator: District of Columbia Public Schools
Developer: Mathematica Policy Research
Country: USA
Sector: Education
Purpose: Assess and rank teacher performance
Technology: Value-added model
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - income, geography; Fairness; Effectiveness/value
Transparency: Governance; Complaints/appeals; Black box


Research, advocacy

News, commentary, analysis

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: November 2021
Last updated: August 2023