• Joanne Jacobs

Rhee’s DC reforms are paying off

The very controversial, take-no-prisoners education reformer  Michelle Rhee deserves credit for making big changes in Washington, D.C.  and setting a national example, writes Bellwether’s Sara Mead in U.S. News.

As chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), Rhee “created IMPACT, a new teacher evaluation system that assessed teacher performance based in part on how much their students learned, and negotiated a new union contract that tied teacher pay to evaluation ratings, allowed teachers who earned multiple low ratings to be dismissed and provided hefty bonuses to those who earned the highest ratings,” writes Mead.

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Research shows IMPACT is “prompting low-performers to leave the system and high-performers to stay and improving performance of high-performers,” writes Mead.

Mayor Adrian Fenty, who’d hired Rhee , lost his re-election bid in 2010. Rhee left D.C. to lead StudentsFirst, which merged last year with 50CAN.

However, Chancellor Kaya Henderson  “maintained and built on her reforms,” writes Mead.

DCPS students are making significant gains in reading and math, improving faster than other urban districts, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

“Performance of D.C. charter schools is improving even faster than that of DCPS schools – leading to more and better options for children in both sectors,” writes Mead.

Rhee’s teacher-evaluation system has become a national model.

Antwan Wilson took over as chancellor in February. The former superintendent in Oakland, Wilson “has built a reputation as an up-and-comer within the same education reform circles that are home to Rhee and Henderson,” reports the Washington Post.

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