Key issues to watch

Tuesday, October 12, 2010; 11:36 PM

1.Special education dilemmas: D.C. school officials have long struggled with the enormous expense of paying for more than 2,000 students with disabilities to get special education from private schools. The city said in July that it would study options to get as many of those students as possible back into public schools, but many parents remain skeptical that the system can meet their needs.

2.Charter school power: In 2008, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee broached the idea of restoring the school system's authority to create independent charter schools. That went nowhere. But the charter sector continues to add students at a faster rate than the school system.

3.Testing, testing: Rhee said this year that standardized testing should be expanded to cover all grades from kindergarten through high school to help gauge teacher effectiveness, not just the minimum required by the federal government (grades 3 through 8 and once in high school). The idea was to phase in the additional exams starting in the spring.

4. Poor teachers: Rhee's new evaluation system, known as IMPACT, rated hundreds of teachers this year as "minimally effective" and gave them a year to improve or face dismissal. How many of those struggling teachers will win a reprieve under new management is an open question.

- Nick Anderson

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