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D.C. Public Schools Cut Over 400 Employees

Less than a year after reform-minded, and characterized by some to be "anti-union," District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee resigned following a controversial three-year tenure, her legacy lives on. Current officials announced Friday that 413 D.C. school employees have been fired for poor performance and failure to meet licensing requirements. Those terminated amount to 5 percent of all public school teachers in D.C. Fox News:

"The biggest chunk of workers let go- 288 of them- were rated subpar by the city school district's evaluation system, called 'IMPACT.'

The program is Michelle Rhee's brainchild from her days as chancellor of the D.C. public school system, and it uses five 30-minute classroom visits to determine who the good teachers are, and who the bad teachers are. Educators are measured by how high their students score on assessment tests and how well lessons are laid out."

While the program is the product of past Chancellor Rhee, her successor stands firmly behind "IMPACT." Current D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson told Fox News:

"'IMPACT' is allowing us to do exactly what we set out to do, which is recognize and reward our highest performers, which is to support and develop our people who are struggling, and to move out our lowest performers"

"IMPACT" does not solely focus on weeding out underperforming teachers. The program also rewards the "highly effective," identifying 663 top performers now eligible for $3,000 to $25,000 bonuses.  That said, the reward for high performers is not enough to satisfy the Washington Teachers' Union. WTU President Nathan A. Saunders has called "IMPACT" a biased evaluation system because it is run by other human beings.

Harder sanctions on teachers failing to perform in an increasing number of evaluations is becoming not only the norm in D.C., but across the country. WSJ:

"More than a dozen states passed laws in the past two years that link teacher evaluations to student test scores and make it easier to fire ineffective educators. The movement was sparked, in part, by President Barack Obama's Race to the Top $4.35 billion education initiative, which awarded grants to states that adopted education overhauls."

While the overhaul in evaluations has lead to more firings, experts argue that good teachers have nothing to worry about. Washington Post:

“'The only people who typically lose their jobs in districts are people who are guilty of a crime,' said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, an organization that studies and promotes methods to improve instruction in schools. 'It’s rare that there are any significant numbers of teachers who lose their jobs because they are not good at teaching their subjects.'"

Do you think your local school district could benefit from an increased number of teacher evaluations based on student performance assessment and lesson plan design?

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