Washington D.C. public schools cut 413 employees; some say the pressure is too high.
In schools across the nation, it is a numbers game for teachers. If your students don’t have acceptable test scores, you could expect to lose your job.
In Washington D.C. teachers felt the effects of this unofficial policy when school officials fired 206 teachers and put another 528 on notice that they too would be receiving pink slips if conditions did not improve.
Sixty-five teachers were laid off for having an “ineffective” rating and 141 teachers were laid off for having a “minimally effective” rating on Impact, the controversial evaluation system developed under former schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.
In response to the layoffs, district officials are saying that the cuts are not just about firing. More than 600 teachers out of 4,116 received high ratings on the evaluation system and will be eligible for $3,000 to $25,000 bonuses.
Multiple states, including Detroit and California, have passed laws making it easier to fire teachers based on test scores. Those same regulations, however, have influenced teachers to “literally” cheat the system in effort to keep their job.
For example, earlier this month, 178 teachers in Atlanta Public Schools were caught cheating on Georgia’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT), a test measuring the knowledge acquired based on the results of the state’s required, standardized tests. Some of the teachers claim that the targets of achievement were set at “unreasonable levels.”
Also recently, the U.S. Education Department joined an investigation amid claims that D.C. school standardized test scores were a result of cheating. Allegations that cheating was taking place in Philadelphia schools have also risen.
In Washington D.C., current school Chancellor Kaya Henderson has called for a school system investigation after it was reported in March that 100 D.C. schools had unusually high exam scores. She is proving that she is not afraid to make bold cuts similar to her successor, Michelle Rhee.
Many are saying that the cuts are in response to President Obama’s proposed Race to the Top program that awards grants to states that have adopted education overhaul.
If this is the case let’s hope that the Race to the Top puts high-quality teachers in positions that help our nation’s children reach their full potential.
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(Photo: Karen Pulfer/Landov)