DCPS needs more than money to attract top teachers
DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown plans to draft a bill that focuses on recruiting teachers to teach in high-poverty, low-performing schools. However, the incentives he proposes may not be enough to recruit highly effective teachers to work in these schools.
Past research on state incentive programs suggests that monetary incentives don't actually do enough to recruit and retain good teachers in high-poverty schools.
In addition to monetary incentives to recruit teachers to low performing schools, districts must also motivate effective teachers to stay in these schools through other factors like strong school leadership, access to high-quality professional development, career mobility, and comprehensive induction for new teachers.
On October 20, DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown announced that he was drafting a bill focused on recruiting effective teachers to work in under-performing schools. While he plans to examine the incentives other states have used, he has suggested that he is already considering several specific incentives.
They include homebuying assistance, tax credits, loan repayments, and the removal of teacher evaluations under IMPACT. Currently, IMPACT rewards highly effective teachers at high poverty schools with a $10,000 bonus.
The most recent IMPACT evaluation report, which identified 663 highly effective teachers, demonstrates the urgency of increasing the number of effective teachers in low-performing schools. While 135 highly effective teachers work in Ward 3 schools, only 71 highly effective teachers work in schools in both Wards 7 and 8.
While Kwame Brown should focus on recruiting teachers to work especially in high-poverty schools, he should also consider ways to motivate these teachers to stay in these schools for more than a year. He could focus on improving working conditions by recruiting principals who support their teachers by providing professional development opportunities as well as opportunities for collaboration among teachers and other school leaders. These schools could also have an incentive program to recruit qualified administrative staff and paraprofessionals who can assist teachers in completing paperwork and working with students who require additional support.
In order to retain new teachers that decide to work in high-poverty schools, Brown should implement an induction program for new urban teachers that complements the New Teacher Orientation and the mentoring support that DCPS currently offers. This induction program could provide additional support these new teachers on issues specific to high-poverty schools.
Chairman Brown's bill, however, should not include waiving annual evaluations under IMPACT as an incentive. Waiving IMPACT may motivate even those teachers deemed as highly effective to work in higher poverty schools since 50% of the IMPACT evaluation is based on student achievement. Nevertheless, IMPACT's value-added approach focuses on measuring a teacher's true impact on student learning by taking other factors that may lead to poor student achievement into account.
Additionally, IMPACT ensures that all DCPS teachers will not only be observed by both their principal and a master educator, but will also have to opportunity to debrief with them and discuss how to improve their practice. As Chancellor Henderson told Washington Post reporter Bill Turque, "even highly effective teachers want and need feedback [in order] to improve and refine their practice." Receiving this feedback is especially important for the highly effective teachers who are in their first few years of working with a different student population.
Research also demonstrates that in order for professional development to be effective, it must be offered regularly, occur in the school where the teacher works, and be driven by clear goals, data, and teacher input. The 5 classroom observations that are part of IMPACT establish that all teachers in DCPS will have access to effective professional development and that the professional development will meet the needs of each teacher, rather than being a one-size-fits-all workshop.
Finally, it isn't clear whether or how highly effective teachers in high-poverty schools would be recognized for their successes if IMPACT is waived. Currently, IMPACT gives highly effective teachers in all DCPS schools the opportunity to be recognized for their work and their students' achievement by being invited to district leadership events at DCPS and by being recognized at A Standing Ovation for DC Teachers gala and the Rubenstein Awards for Highly Effective Teaching. Under IMPACT, highly effective teachers are also "eligible for performance bonuses of up to $25,000. Repeat highly effective staff members are eligible for base salary increases of up to $20,000, in addition to the annual bonuses."
While monetary incentives are important to recruiting highperforming teachers to underperforming schools, Chairman Brown must consider incentives that focus on improving working conditions to retain these teachers in high-poverty schools. IMPACT plays a role in better working conditions for teachers by ensuring high quality professional development for all teachers and by publicly recognizing teachers who are deemed highly effective.
- Bikeshare is a gateway to private biking, not competition
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools
- Long-term closures: A solution to single-tracking?
- Metro policy for refunds after delays falls short, riders say
- PG planners propose bold new smart growth future
- Public land deals have both benefits and pitfalls
- Prince George's County struggles to get trails right