D.C. Public Schools: Teacher evaluation rule changes could save jobs

(AP, WJLA) - 413 D.C. Public School teachers received separation notices on Friday, with over 300 of them going to teachers who received consecutive subpar evaluations.

In total, 663 teachers in the Washington Teachers' Union received the top rating of "Highly Effective," but 309 were terminated.

Out of those 309, 113 received ratings of "Ineffective," 175 received "Minimally Effective" ratings for the second straight year and 21 were unable to be placed in permanent positions.

"It helps us identify performance and if you cannot perform you cannot teach our children," said Kaya Henderson, D.C. Public Schools chancellor. "At the end of the day, we know an effective teacher is the single greatest factor in student achievement."

The remaining 104 terminated teachers failed to meet licensure requirements.

"We remain committed to moving out our lowest performers in an effort to ensure that every child has access to an outstanding education," Henderson said in a statement.

Teachers receiving the highest marks on their evaluations are eligible for a performance bonuses up to $25,000.

Termination letters were expected to go out as soon as Friday to district public school teachers who received two straight poor evaluations, but D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson has relaxed some evaluation rules that will allow some teachers to keep their jobs.

Washington Teachers' Union President Nathan Saunders said that teachers who were judged "minimally effective" can be granted an exception. Under the original guidelines for the evaluation system known as IMPACT, teachers who received that rating two years in a row were to be fired.

He said 21 terminated teachers were rated effective but were fired because they couldn’t find a principal to accept them.

“These individuals were rated effective not once, but twice and still got fired,” said union head Nathan Saunders. “No one is safe with this system."

About 500 teachers received the rating last year. Henderson says she is not sure how many teachers will be affected by the rules change, but estimates that it will likely be no more than "a handful."