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Local: Education

DCPS considers waiving evaluations for top teachers moving to poorer areas

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Local,DC,Education,Lisa Gartner
D.C. Public Schools is considering a proposal from D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown to lure top teachers into the city's poorest schools by waiving their Impact evaluations for two to three years, The Washington Examiner has learned.

If implemented, the incentive would be the second significant change to the controversial evaluation tool in the past three months.

Currently teachers rated "highly effective" -- those who impress during classroom observations, and some who improve student test scores -- are clustered in affluent areas.

Highly effective teachers who work in high-poverty schools, where at least 60 percent of students quality for free or reduced-price lunch, are eligible for $10,000 bonuses, whereas their peers in more affluent schools get $5,000.

But because the evaluations also determine who gets laid off each summer, Brown said the extra $5,000 isn't worth the risk of moving into a more challenging classroom environment -- and getting fired.

"Some of them don't want to take that risk, and there's no compensation except if you do well; but if you don't, guess what happens," Brown said. "Right now it is a plan of failure to take a brand-new Teach For America teacher and put them in a low-performing school and expect results."

Under the proposal, teachers forgoing evaluations still would receive bonuses of $5,000 to $10,000.

Inequity among wards has been an issue as city officials try to overhaul the troubled public school system.

Fred Lewis, a spokesman for Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, said DCPS also is open to other options that would get top performers in needy schools. "At the same time, we believe that a strong, annual evaluation process is essential to improving the quality of our work force and raising student achievement."

Teachers are typically observed in their classrooms five times each year. In September, The Examiner first reported that DCPS would allow teachers rated "highly effective" on their first two evaluations to waive the remaining three.

The Washington Teachers' Union embraced this change. President Nathan Saunders said teachers would endorse Brown's proposal as well, and would like to see the waiver extended to highly effective teachers already working in poorer schools.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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