D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) is developing legislation to encourage the city’s most effective teachers to work in its lowest-performing schools by exempting them from annual evaluations for at least a couple of years.
The measure, which Brown said Thursday he will introduce soon, is an attempt to address one of the most vexing issues facing DCPS: how to put its best teachers in front of the children who need them the most. The maldistribution of teaching talent is illustrated by the location of the 663 teachers deemed “highly effective” on the most recent round of IMPACT evaluations. Just 71 work in the 41 schools in Wards 7 and 8, while the ten schools in Ward 3 are home to 135 top educators.
There are also data indicating that the proportion of novice teachers in high-poverty areas has increased significantly in recent years.
“We have to get high-performing teachers into low-performing schools,” said Brown,who added that he has discussed the idea with Chancellor Kaya Henderson, describing her reaction as “excited.”
Under IMPACT, teachers in high-poverty schools who reach the highly effective level can earn an additional $10,000. There are additional payments for teachers whose students exceed predicted growth on the DC CAS ($10,000) or for those who work in a sought after subject area such as special education ($5,000).
While teachers weigh a variety of factors when deciding whether to switch schools (working environment, the principal) the high-stakes nature of IMPACT is clearly a disincentive for working with more challenging students. A poor IMPACT score can mean dismissal. Even Henderson has acknowledged that a teacher who is highly effective in one school may not be highly effective somewhere else. Waiving IMPACT would alleviate the career risks involved in such a move.
Brown said he is still workng out the details, but that he might propose that the idea be tried on a pilot basis in the city’s middle schools, most of which have dismal academic records.
Brown’s proposal was first reported earlier Thursday evening by The Washington Examiner.