WASHINGTON (AP) — The District of Columbia public school system announced Friday that it was firing more than 400 employees for poor performance and failure to meet licensing requirements.
This is the second straight year that the school district has turned to mass layoffs under a new teacher evaluation system, known as IMPACT, which evaluates staff performance based on factors including student achievement on test scores, professionalism and collaboration. The district issued more than 200 termination notices last year as part of the same evaluation system, which was developed during the tenure of former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who resigned in October.
Teachers have criticized the evaluation system as subjective, unfair and overly reliant on students’ test scores. Teachers receive one of four ratings: Highly Effective, Effective, Minimally Effective, or Ineffective.
In June 2009, before IMPACT was in place, dozens of teachers were let go because of either poor performance or failure to obtain a license. Then, that fall, officials announced the layoffs of nearly 400 public school employees, citing a budget crunch.
Of the 413 terminations in the current round, 288 staff members are being laid off because of poor ratings on the IMPACT system. The other laid-off staff members either failed to meet licensing requirements or were unable to find a permanent position after they were warned last year that their positions were being eliminated because of budget cuts.
The terminated staff members can resign or retire, if eligible. They will have also various options to appeal, depending on the terms of their collective bargaining agreement, said Jason Kamras, the school district’s chief of human capital.
Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said in a statement Friday that while the district wants to recognize its best teachers, “We also remain committed to moving out our lowest performers in an effort to ensure that every child has access to an outstanding education.”