Now able to dismiss ineffective teachers, Washington, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee fired 6 percent of the district’s teachers. Of 241 teachers fired, 165 were judged to be low performers; the rest did not have proper credentials. Another 17 percent, judged “minimally effective,” did not get a raise this year and could be fired next year if they don’t improve, reports the Wall Street Journal.
In the past, 95 percent of teachers were rated excellent; none were fired.
The Washington Teacher’s Union will challenge the firings, saying the evaluation system is unfair.
The teacher evaluation system developed under Ms. Rhee is one of the most rigorous in the nation. It requires numerous classroom observations of teacher performance and measures teachers against student achievement. It also allows Ms. Rhee to quickly get rid of of poorly performing teachers.
. . . Under the Washington, D.C., system, teachers are evaluated five times a year by school administrators and master teachers on such things as creating coherent lesson plans and engaging students. After an initial observation, teachers receive a plan detailing weaknesses and are offered coaching for improvement, district officials said.
Students’ improvement on reading and math tests counts for half the evaluation only for the 20 percent of teachers who teach reading and math in fourth through eighth grade. Rhee plans to expand the achievement component to high school teachers in future years.
Teachers are ranked into four categories. This year, 16% reached the highest ranking, compared with 45% in past years. Some 20% landed in the bottom rating, compared with 4% in years past.
The union has a point about the new IMPACT evaluation system, writes the Post’s Valerie Strauss on Answer Sheet. There are a lot of bugs in the system.