IMPACT Teacher Bonuses Haven’t Had Much Impact on Test Scores in D.C. Public Schools

Despite spending millions of dollars on teacher bonuses and incentives, a new report reveals that disadvantaged students enrolled in the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) have made little progress since the school system was reformed to great national fanfare eight years ago.

In 2007, the D.C. Council passed the Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA) which created a school chancellor who, along with the mayor, would have control over the city’s struggling public schools rather than the city’s Board of Education.

Michelle Rhee, the DCPS chancellor from 2007 to 2010, gained national attention in 2009 for creating IMPACT, a pay-for-performance evaluation system that monetarily rewards teachers based on students’ test scores, classroom observations, quality of the school community, and the educators’ overall professionalism.

The IMPACT program cost $3.2 million in FY 2010 and $3.9 million in FY 2011. It was originally funded by private sources, but taxpayers had to pick up the tab after the end of the 2012 school year when the private funding ended.