MEMPHIS — Teachers here took a step last spring that seemed at first glance surprising: They chose to have their work evaluated in much the same way that their counterparts are observed and rated in D.C. public schools.
In the District, the IMPACT evaluation system, developed under former schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, has stirred huge debate as nearly 300 teachers have been fired for poor marks during the past two years.
Memphis teachers adopted the D.C. method — in significant part — over two alternatives that are better known and more widely used. They said IMPACT offers concise, concrete formulations of what effective teaching looks like.
“It really allows you to reflect,” said Melanie Fleming, who teaches third grade at Richland Elementary, one of the higher-performing schools in Memphis.
But many of the city’s 7,000 teachers are raising grievances about the new system and fears that school officials will use it to purge educators, not help them raise their game. Union officials say teachers feel betrayed, an echo of the D.C. tumult.