Introducing: Jason Kamras

Well, it looks like the tea leaves may be correct. RPS Board is reported to be voting tonight on Jason Kamras for RPS Superintendent. 

On April 22nd, almost seven months ago to the day, RPS announced Dr. Dana Bedden would leave his post as RPS Superintendent effective June 30th. RPS had six months from the departure date to recruit, select, and put a new superintendent in place. The original superintendent search timeline was presented during an RPS Board meeting on June 26th with target completion date of September. Ultimately, the board passed a motion made to allow the search committee to extend the timeline to December 1st (if necessary). And now... here we are before December 1st finding out about who the new RPS Superintendent is going to be.  As a reminder, right now there is a A TON going on that impacts RPS and it's students. The board is in the midst of finalizing plans to address facilities, the education compact is still getting up and running, the school modernization referendum was passed by voters and is headed to the General Assembly, and the Memorandum of Understanding and associated Corrective Action Plan are in play as well. I believe this is a very exciting time for RPS as there will finally be a permanent superintendent in place so progress can be made on some of the big outstanding topics.

Having researched Jason Kamras extensively, there are a lot of reasons I think we all should be VERY excited to have him working in our school district. That said, not everything and everyone is perfect. There are opinions out there on the internet that would make you think Kamras walks on water but at the same time, there are also scathing criticisms of Kamras and his policies. No matter what, we have to keep this wealth of information in perspective. We are RPS, not DCPS. Whatever any superintendent believes or wants to do will have to be customized to fit RPS needs and resources. In my opinion, the best thing anyone can do is try to understand all sides of the issues at play so we can identify solutions that address our concerns with whatever programs or policies Kamras, the board, and anyone else suggests. When I try to understand something, I take to google and start pulling all types of information from various sources together. To better understand Kamras and where his potential approach could coming from, I was looking for articles published about him, interviews, information about programs he administered, and analysis on the success of the programs. 

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the compilation of links. Full disclosure, there are a lot of links and I am still working my way through reading all of the content in it's entirety. Oh.... and as always, this is not an entirely exhaustive list. There is always a chance I missed something so feel free to send us links we may have missed. 

Who is Jason Kamras? 

Photo Credit: Digital Promise

Photo Credit: Digital Promise

Jason Kamras graduated from Princeton University in 1995 with a B.A. in public policy and Harvard Graduate School of Education in . Fresh out of college, through the Teach for America program, Kamras became a 7th and 8th grade math teacher at John Philip Sousa Middle school in District of Columbia Public Schools. Kamras was named Teacher of the Year (check out his application) in 2005 and served as an education policy adviser on Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Kamras was hired by (now infamous) DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee to be the Chief of Human Capital where he designed the teacher evaluation system called IMPACT. When Rhee resigned as chancellor in 2010, she was replaced by Rhee-protege and then-deputy chancellor, Kaya Henderson. In June 2016, Henderson resigned ad a few months later, Antwan Wilson was selected to fill the role. Despite the changes in leadership, Kamras remained in DCPS and is currently the Chief of Instructional Practice. The programs Kamras has worked on in DCPS promote paying teachers for performance, teacher evaluations, and teacher training. 

Research Resources

These links are variety of opinions and sources ranging from local DC bloggers to academic journals to traditional new media. Some articles are directly related to Jason Kamras while others merely provide context or more information on policies. The links are presented in chronological order starting with the oldest articles first. Of note is this is not an exhaustive list of every article in existence. If there are important bits and pieces I missed, feel free to email me the link! 

4/18/2005: Teacher of the Year: "Let teachers teach"

4/29/2005: CSPAN Q&A with Jason Kamras

2/16/2006: Equity of Opportunity for All Children

4/11/2006: Can We Improve Teacher Effectiveness by Measuring Performance on the Job?

7/13/2006: A Teacher Learns New Lessons on the Road

10/19/2006: Q&A with the 2005 National Teacher of the Year (TRANSCRIPT and VIDEO)

2007: The District of Columbia and the Reform Act: Historical Overview

January 2007: America's Teaching Crisis by Jason Kamras

10/26/2007: Roundtable Discussion on Value-Added Analysis of Student Achievement: A Summary of Findings

11/17/2009: Jason Kamras on IMPACT

7/10/2008: Charlie Rose Show Interview  

9/17/2008: Presidential campaign education policies

11/14/2008: Thomas Fordham Institute guest blogger

January 2010: What Makes a Great Teacher? 

1/20/2010: Dropout Nation Video- Jason Kamras of D.C. Public Schools on the Impact of Performance Pay

5/19/2010: The Impact of IMPACT: Defining, Evaluating, and Supporting Effective Teachers in DC

6/1/2010: The Cult of the Magical Teacher: Our National Delusion

12/28/2010: Teach for America's Most Influential Alumni

2011: Inside IMPACT: D.C.'s Model Teacher Evaluation System

2/27/2011: DCPS Administrators Won't or Can't give a DCPS Teacher the IMPACT Value-Added Algorithm

3/2/2011: The VAM Equation Explained So We Can All Understand It (Not!)

6/10/2011: Some teachers more minimally effective than others? 

1/18/2012: American Teacher: a new documentary looks at teacher pay and perception

2/3/2012: Support for NCTQ's national review of teacher preparation programs

3/28/2012: Q&A with Jason Kamras: What lies ahead for DC public schools

3/29/2012: Ideas: Please Stop Talking About Banning Private School

4/18/2012: Should Teachers Get Bonuses for Student Achievement

10/17/2012: Vanderbilt University Teacher Effectiveness Conference Panel

1/1/2013: Assessing the Educational Data Movement (book)

4/11/2013: Michelle Rhee's Reign of Error

10/21/2013: Study: DC IMPACT Teacher Evaluation System Improves Performance

12/27/2013: Quick Thoughts on the Screwed Up DC IMPACT Ratings

5/14/2014: America's Teacher Evaluation System Revolution

2015: Incentives, Selection, and Teacher Performance: Evidence from IMPACT

2015: An Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia: Reform in  a Changing Landscape

4/15/2015: Cage-busting teachers: Who are they, and what can they teach us?

5/7/2015: The Bob Edwards Show Interview with Jason Kamras

2016: Washington Teachers' Union LEAP Comments and Observations from DCPS Educators

January 2016: Teacher Turnover, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement in DCPS

1/25/2016: Sometimes, teacher turnover is a good thing, study finds

2/10/2016: DC Public Schools, closely watched for its reform efforts, it overhauling teacher evaluation and training

2/16/2016: The Aspen Institute Panel on Teacher Evaluation Accountability and Support: Lessons from Leading Efforts

2/17/2016: Why Do Schools Keep Changing The Way They Grade Teachers?

2/20/2016: New LEAP related coaching position mandates (unfunded mandates from DCPS)- public online forum

2/21/2016: Learning lessons of the past, D.C. overhauls teacher evaluations. Will it work? 

4/20/2016: In D.C., 'It's Personal'

4/25/2016: DCPS Teachers Will Get Weekly Subject-Based Training Next School Year

9/1/2016: Jason Kamras on Achievement

12/9/2016: Jason Kamras on Leadership

4/19/2017: How DC became the darling of education reform

5/30/2017: How DC Schools are Revolutionizing Teaching

7/24/2017: Undocumented Suspensions persisted in D.C. schools despite repeated alerts

August 2017: Hot for Teachers

8/11/2017: Is DCPS really redesigning teaching?

8/20/2017: A D.C. Breakthrough as Traditional Public School Students Post Gains on PARCC Test, Outperforming Charters

September/October 2017: Has D.C Teacher Reform Been Successful? 

11/11/2017: The D.C. School Reform Fiasco:  A Complete History

November 2017: Allegations around standards at Ballou High School after all of graduating class is accepted into college (NPR, The Root, Washington Post, Washington Post Opinion)

2017: LEAP Teacher Professional Development

2017: Jason Kamras Biography

No date: Testing Teachers

No date: A review of the DC Impact Teacher Evaluation System