Review of the evaluation system for DC teachers shows racial bias gap in scores

D.C. public schools has released a study that reviewed the evaluation system it uses for teachers.

The goal of the city-commissioned study was to ensure it was supporting the growth of the city’s teachers.

The consensus? It’s racially-biased in areas.

The equity review of the evaluation system called IMPACT, found that there was a considerable gap between the average final scores of white teachers and Black and Hispanic teachers.

In the 2018 to 2019 school year, white teachers’ average IMPACT final score was 17 points higher than Black teachers, 14 points higher than Hispanic teachers and nine points higher than Asian teachers.

The review explained the racial disparity, saying it was partially related to Black teachers being more likely than white teachers to work at schools with more students below the poverty line.

Despite significant variation in the percentage of teachers being rated “highly effective,” performance-based compensation dollars are largely distributed proportionally by race, according to the report.

The study, which was conducted by the American University School of Education, says this was present no matter the race of the person evaluating.

Another finding was that many teachers and school leaders felt that IMPACT created an “unhealthy environment of distrust, fear, and competitiveness in schools that trickles down into the classroom.”

Additionally, Black teachers receive two-and-a-half times as many deductions from their reviews as white teachers, and over twice as many as Hispanic/Latino teachers.

The latest evolutions to IMPACT include adding anti-bias training for evaluators, additional resources and supports for teacher growth, and changes to how IMPACT interacts with annual salary raises, according to DCPS. 

Read the whole American University report here.

See the DCPS equity data trends details here.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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