D.C. Public Schools dismissed hundreds of teachers today, as a part of the policy introduced by former education Chancellor Michelle Rhee to let go of low-performing educators.
The District on Friday fired some 227 teachers and gave raises and bonuses to more than 600 teachers, based on numbers generated by its controversial teacher evaluation system.
The system--known as IMPACT--put D.C. and its then chancellor at the center of a national debate over teacher performance and accountability when it debuted in 2009.
The dismissal and bonus components of the system were revised last year with a collective bargaining act signed by the Washington Teacher's Union. IMPACT is one of the first teacher-evaluation systems in the nation to grade teachers using a combination of classroom observations and student test scores.
According to officials, 663 teachers were rated at the top level--"highly effective"--and are eligible for performance bonuses of up to $25,000. Of those teachers, 290 will also receive base-salary increases.
Of the 227 fired, 65 teachers received "ineffective" ratings and 141 did not improve their performance enough over the past year. Another 94 teachers were let go for not maintaining a valid license and 21 teachers who lost their placements and were unable to find new ones will not be coming back next year.
“Great teachers are critical to our success," said current DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson in a press release. “We are delighted to be able to shine a spotlight on our top performers, and we are thrilled by the improvements that so many of our educators made this year".
"We also remain committed to moving out our lowest performers in an effort to ensure that every child has access to an outstanding education.”
This isn't the first year that IMPACT has resulted in large-scale dismissals: 224 teachers were fired under the system during the 2009-2010 school year.
The Washington Teacher's Union has been a vocal critic of IMPACT since the system's inception, citing its school-wide student-achievement component--which bases a portion of each teacher's score on the performance of the school as a whole--as one of the most problematic aspects of the evaluation system.
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said that it was necessary for the city to "move out those who are ineffective."
"Reaching our goal of providing a high quality education to every child in our city depends on getting an effective teacher in every classroom," Brown said in a statement. He noted that many teachers who rated "minimally effective" last year had received professional training and improved their performance this year.