Washington DC schools teacher IMPACT value-added scoring

February 2012
Updated: November 2021

Washington Post reporter Bill Turque looks into the experience of Sarah Wysocki, a 5th grade Washington DC public school teacher who has run up against a controversial system for evaluating teacher performance.

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.

But some 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. Yet she received a low value-added score and was subsequently fired. Her appeal against her dismissal failed. She was quickly offered a position with another school system.

The controversy raised serious questions about the fairness, accuracy, and value of Washington DC's value-added scoring system. It also highlighted the opacity and lack of accountability associated with algorithmic black box systems.

Operator: District of Columbia Public Schools
Mathematica Policy Research
Country: USA
Purpose: Assess teacher performance
Technology: Teacher effectiveness system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - income, geography; Fairness; Effectiveness/value
Transparency: Governance; Complaints/appeals; Black box