By Bill Turque, The Washington Post
The District on Friday fired 206 teachers for poor performance, a rarity in a big city school system and an extension of former chancellor Michelle A. Rheeâ€™s aggressive drive to upgrade classroom instruction in the nationâ€™s capital.
The teachers who were dismissed â€” about 5 percent of 4,100 who work for the school system â€” received low scores in the evaluation program known as IMPACT, developed under Rhee before she resigned in October.
Although policymakers at all levels of government are putting more emphasis on teacher quality, such large-scale dismissals remain all but unheard of. Collective-bargaining agreements with politically potent unions and cumbersome appeals processes often limit a school chiefâ€™s power to fire teachers.
Fridayâ€™s dismissals remove any lingering uncertainty that Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and Chancellor Kaya Henderson would continue personnel policies Rhee left behind. Gray received heavy support from organized labor in his campaign to unseat former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), Rheeâ€™s boss.
â€œWe must embrace IMPACT as one of the tools that will allow us to achieve true education reform for the Districtâ€™s school system,â€ said D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D).
IMPACT grades teachers on five 30-minute classroom observations and their compliance with nine broad standards. These include the abilities to express course content clearly, teach students with differing skill levels and manage time effectively. For some teachers, half of their appraisal is contingent on whether students meet predicted improvement targets on standardized tests.
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