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Six percent of D.C. public school employees get separation notes

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The District of Columbia Public Schools has notified 413 employees of their separation as the result of IMPACT evaluations, the DCPS said on Friday.

IMPACT evaluates teacher performance based on student achievement, instructional expertise, collaboration, and professionalism. Other employees are assessed based on criteria specific to their jobs.

The 413 represent just over 6 percent of the 6,500 total DCPS employees. DCPS issued separation notices based on performance and on noncompliance with licensing requirements for the 2010-2011 school year, according to a DCPS statement.

All employees who received separation notices will have the chance to resign, appeal, or retire, if eligible.

IMPACT evaluates approximately 6,500 employees of DCPS, which educates more than 47,000 students in 126 schools in Washington, D.C.

The evaluation system was introduced at the start of the 2009-2010 school year.

Employees receive one of four IMPACT ratings -- highly effective, effective, minimally effective, or ineffective - for the year.

For 2011, DCPS notified 309 employees that they will be separated due to low performance ratings, and 104 employees because they had not complied with licensing requirements.

Twenty-one teachers are being "moved out" after completing their placements because they were unable to find permanent positions in the school system, according to DCPS.

About 4,100 of the 6,500 employees evaluated under IMPACT are part of the Washington Teachers' Union. Roughly 3,400 of these are teachers.


"Some subgroups of that total concern me," WTU President Nathan Saunders told Reuters -- referring to the 21 teachers being 'moved out' -- "particularly a group of teachers who were deemed effective or highly effective under the system and terminated because they could not find a placement within their public school system, while DCPS goes out and hires new teachers."

According to Saunders, it costs approximately $40,000 to move a teacher of employment.

"And when you have 21 individuals moved out of individual employment when you don't have to, it suggests that you just wasted $100,000."

In 2011, 1,213 employees won the top rating of highly effective, as compared to 1,499 in 2010, according to IMPACT results.

WTU members who earned the top rating qualify for performance bonuses of up to $25,000. Two-hundred-ninety WTU members were top-rated for the second year in a row, making them eligible for base salary increases of up to $20,000, in addition to the annual performance bonus.

Nearly 60 percent of WTU members who received the lowest rating last year and decided to stay in the system improved their rating.

"Great teachers are critical to our success," DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson stated in Friday's announcement.

Henderson succeeded former chancellor Michelle Rhee, who created the IMPACT evaluation system, which some saw as a needed reform to improve educational quality and others as damaging to teacher morale.

Rhee resigned in October after the mayor who backed her changes was defeated in an election where they were a major issue.

"The ultimate potential effect of this system might be to drive effective teachers out of the system as opposed to bring them in," said Saunders. "In the second year of IMPACT we now can see that you can be effective or highly effective and be terminated."

"And that is problematic, not for 6 percent of the D.C. public school workforce, but 100 percent of the D.C. public schools workforce."

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

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